Fox's episode puts pressure on rivals

HOLLYWOOD — Viewers strapped themselves in for Fox’s “The Chamber” on Sunday night as a preview episode timed to beat ABC’s similarly structured new gameshow delivered solid ratings.

According to prelim nationals from Nielsen, the hourlong gamer averaged about 10 million viewers and a timeslot-winning 4.7/11 in adults 18-49 — growing on the 8:30 half-hour in both. The show nabbed an even better 5.3/14 in adults 18-34, winning its hour by an estimated 5 shares.

“Chamber,” though, aired in a strong Fox hour (its scores were below what “The Simpsons” and “Malcolm in the Middle” deliver), so it remains to be seen if the gamer can approach these levels when it settles into its regular Friday-at-8 slot Jan. 25.

But it’s also possible that many potential viewers may not have heard of the show. A late sked move last week to put “Chamber” on the air before ABC’s “The Chair” (which bows tonight) meant that Fox had only a Sunday afternoon National Football League playoff contest in which to promote it.

“Chamber” contestants can win up to $500,000 if they endure physiological, physical and environmental pressures while correctly answering trivia questions.

‘People’s’ pulls ‘em in

Elsewhere on Sunday, “The 28th Annual People’s Choice Awards” on CBS did well, averaging a preliminary 15.3 million viewers (up slightly vs. last year) and a 5.6/13 in adults 18-49. It won its 9-11 p.m. block by all key measures, although ABC’s “The Practice” (prelim 15.7m, 5.9/14) topped it head-to-head in the night’s final hour.

Sunday winner CBS, which aired the late NFL playoff game, also scored on the night with the best scores since March 2000 for “60 Minutes” (prelim 19.6 million viewers, 5.2/14 in 18-49).

And the WB received good ratings news from the series premiere of “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment” at 8. The sketch-comedy show grabbed the weblet’s best metered-market overnight rating for any Sunday half-hour this season (3.5/5), building nicely from its “Steve Harvey Show” lead-in (2.6/4).

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