Ring fling KOs rivals

Fox wins round with celeb boxing

Pugilism paid off big time for Fox Wednesday as a much-hyped “Celebrity Boxing” showdown scored some of the season’s best numbers for an entertainment spec.

Hourlong event had the competish on the ropes, winning its 9 p.m. timeslot with a rousing 7.1 rating/17 share in adults 18-49, according to Nielsen. Among entertainment specs, only CBS’ Carol Burnett and Michael Jackson thrillers have done better demo numbers this season (not counting awards shows or sports broadcasts).

Matchups included Tonya Harding vs. Paula Jones, Danny Bonaduce vs. Barry Williams and Vanilla Ice vs. Todd Bridges.

Not surprisingly, spec did particularly well among men. Indeed, in key male demos, no other entertainment spec has performed better this season. (Eye’s “9/11” is being classified as a movie.)

“Celebrity Boxing” also won its hour in total viewers (15.48 million) and adults 18-34 (7.6/21.)

“We’re very pleased,” said Fox Entertainment prexy Gail Berman. “It was a clever concept executed well.”

Berman said a second installment of “Celebrity Boxing” is under consideration, but no decisions have yet been made. But it seems a given that Fox will sked another round of the spec for May sweeps.

“The quality of our series is so sound, it’s fun to punctuate our schedule with some of the flashier specials,” Berman said.

Fox reality czar Mike Darnell said he believes viewers tuned in because of the unique nature of the hour.

“There’s a fascination with celebrities in abnormal situations,” he said. “And this was a very unique situation.”

In other ratings news, a special Wednesday edition of the Eye’s “Survivor” (11.5/19, 20.46 million) easily won the 8 p.m. hour in viewers and demos. That’s down from what the skein’s been averaging on Thursdays but still far better than the Eye’s normal Wednesday numbers.

“Survivor” gave a huge boost to the 9 p.m. timeslot debut of “The Amazing Race 2” (5.8/14, 12.5 million), which had its best-ever ratings for a regularly skedded seg. Skein continues to hit the demo sweet spot, ranking second behind “Celebrity Boxing” in adults 18-49, but third in total viewers.

Over at NBC, a 10 p.m. repeat of “Law & Order” (6.6/18, 16.99 million) gave the Peacock drama its best-ever adults 18-49 ratings for a repeat episode.

ABC drew decent numbers for 8:30 p.m. laffer “According to Jim,” which finished a strong second in adults 18-49.

Overall, CBS won the night in adults 18-49 with a 5.8/15, followed by Fox (5.3/14), NBC (4.8/12), ABC (3.3/9), UPN (1.6/4) and WB (1.0/3.).

In viewers, NBC ruled with 14.23 million, followed by CBS (13.49 million), Fox (11.42 million), ABC (8.08 million), UPN (3.19 million) and WB (2.19 million).

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