Azaria laffer stumbles in ratings

Another NBC comedy bowing in Tuesday’s opening hour has tripped out of the starting blocks.

Imagine that.

According to Nielsen estimates, the new Hank Azaria laffer “Imagine That” opened to weak fourth-place ratings Tuesday night (6.77 million viewers, 2.7/7 in adults 18-49) — about 20% lower than the premiere of “Emeril” in the same 8 o’clock half-hour last fall.

Unless the critically trashed “Imagine” makes an improbable comeback over its four remaining skedded weeks, it will become the sixth NBC sitcom in 16 months to go away quietly after bowing at 8 on Tuesday.

“Emeril,” which ended its brief run in December, was preceded in this struggling NBC hour by “Go Fish,” “Kristin,” “The Fighting Fitzgeralds” and “The Michael Richards Show.”

Despite its woes at 8, though, NBC remains competitive on Tuesdays this season thanks to the 9 o’clock combo of “Frasier” and “Scrubs,” both of which won their half-hours in adults 18-49 this week.

The Peacock net finished second to Fox in adults 18-49 (4.3/11 vs. 4.5/11), with the latter’s “That ’70s Show” sweeping the 8 o’clock half-hour in adults 18-49 (5.3/15) and every other younger demo.

Fox’s “24” (8.31m, 4.3/10 in 18-49) improved upon its two most recent scores, perhaps the beneficiary of high rankings on year-end critics’ lists. It ran third in its hour in 18-49, but right behind ABC’s “NYPD Blue,” which logged a season low 4.5/11.

CBS had a strong night, winning in adults 25-54 (5.3/12) as well as total viewers. Net’s “JAG” was the night’s most-watched show (16.68m). “The Guardian” won at 9 in total viewers (13.33m) for the first time since “Blue” joined the hour, and “Judging Amy” (16.06m, 4.6/12 in 18-49) reasserted itself at 10, easily topping ABC’s “Philly” (9.57m, 3.5/9) and ranking as the night’s No. 1 drama in 18-49.

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