Sitcom scores as net revamps Sunday

Fox successfully launched third-year laffer “Bernie Mac” in its new timeslot following “The Simpsons” on Sunday, transfusing the net’s comedy lineup with some new blood.

Final November sweep numbers, meanwhile, revealed what had long ago been projected (Daily Variety, Nov. 25), with CBS and NBC on top in key categories and UPN gaining ground on the WB.

As for “Bernie Mac,” the last of the broadcast nets’ new fall shows to premiere retained 92% of its adults 18-49 lead-in from “The Simpsons” (4.7/11 vs. 5.1/13), according to preliminary Nielsen results. It ran second in the demo at 8:30 behind CBS newsmag “60 Minutes,” which started late in most of the country due to football.

Season opener, which featured guest star Shaquille O’Neal of the Lakers, dominated its slot in adults 18-34 (5.6/15) and teens (6.4/18) and drew about 10.4 million viewers overall.

Last season, Fox primarily relied on a trio of skeins — “The Simpsons,” “Malcolm in the Middle” and “King of the Hill” — to hold down the six slots on its Sunday sked. Net is now hopeful that the combo of “Bernie Mac” and rookie laffer “Arrested Development,” which has been picked up for the entire season, can rejuvenate the night.

On Sunday, “Arrested” (3.1/7 in 18-49, 6.7 million) was up week-to-week and retained 82% of its 18-49 lead-in from “Malcolm in the Middle” (3.8/9 in 18-49, 9.1 million).

CBS won the night with football, another strong delivery from “60 Minutes” (roughly 5.0/13 in 18-49, 19 million viewers overall) and movie “Finding John Christmas” (roughly 3.9/10 in 18-49, 16.2 million).

After a four-week layoff, struggling first-year NBC legal drama “The Lyon’s Den” again had a tough time in its 10 o’clock slot (2.6/7 in 18-49, 7.0 million), falling well behind drama rival “The Practice” on ABC (projected 4.3/11 in 18-49, 10.9 million).

Ratings for Showtime’s premiere of “The Reagans” on Sunday will be released today.

Final numbers for the November sweep were issued Monday, with NBC prevailing in 18-49 by 5% over CBS (4.4/12 vs. 4.2/11), while the Eye topped the Peacock by 8% in adults 25-54 (5.4/13 vs. 5.0/12) and by 27% in total viewers (14.58 million vs. 11.46m).

Of note for the month were the perfs by the weblets, with UPN nearly catching the WB in adults 18-34 (1.8/5 vs. 1.9/6). While UPN was flat year-to-year, the Frog tumbled by 21%.

Contributing to the stronger UPN numbers were the first “Vibe Awards” on the month’s final Friday; guest stars on its Tuesday comedies including Will Smith on “All of Us”; and solid showings from both its Monday laffer block and Thursday’s “WWE Smackdown.”

For the month, UPN’s Monday lineup delivered its best sweep result in women 18-34 (3.0/8) since February 1995 — a month after the net launched.

At the WB, biggest declines came on Tuesday, with vet “Gilmore Girls” drooping and newcomer “One Tree Hill” well below what “Smallville” put up in the 9 o’clock hour a year ago.

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