Goldberg starrer, Fox's 'OC' shine in ratings

HOLLYWOOD — NBC’s strategy of early rollouts for its new Tuesday comedies has reaped dividends, as both “Whoopi” and “Happy Family” received strong sampling for their premieres.

Meanwhile, another of the fall’s new shows, Fox drama “The OC,” also shined Tuesday, hitting another ratings high with its sixth episode on the same day it received a full-season order from the net (Daily Variety, Sept. 10).

According to Nielsen nationals, Whoopi Goldberg starrer “Whoopi” dominated its 8 o’clock timeslot (4.9/16 in adults 18-49, 15.14 million viewers overall) — NBC’s highest demo rating in the time period with regular programming since October 2000 and the highest overall viewer total since January 1998.

“Happy Family,” starring John Larroquette and Christine Baranski, followed and built slightly on “Whoopi” in 18-49 (5.1/15) and dropped a bit in total viewers (14.67m). In both categories, it’s the Peacock’s best showing here with regular fare since early 2002.

The NBC premieres were the highest-rated shows Tuesday.

“Happy” built most on “Whoopi” among women 18-34, growing by 20%. It matched “Whoopi” in key male demos and dropped a bit among auds under 18 and over 49.

Falloffs for both shows are likely in coming weeks as more original fare invades the time period. Opening-hour competition on Tuesday included firstrun reality programs on CBS and Fox and repeat comedies on ABC.

NBC would likely be happy if these comedies can settle in somewhere around a 3 rating in Tuesday’s opening hour, which has been a real struggle for the net in recent years.

“Big Brother 4″ ranked second at 8 in 18-49 (3.6/11), with ABC’s “8 Simple Rules” (2.7/9) and “According to Jim” (2.7/8) beating out the third week of Fox’s “Performing As…” music skein (2.2/7).

As for “The OC,” the hot soap lathered up its best numbers yet in 18-49 (4.3/12), 18-34 (5.5/16) and 12-34 (5.4/17) — and in the latter has now grown with all five of the firstrun telecasts since its premiere. Show airs its summer finale next week and then is skedded to return in a new Thursday slot following the World Series.

On cable, second seg of Spike TV’s “Joe Schmo” averaged 1.2 million viewers Tuesday, an increase of 45% from its premiere. In men 18-34, show’s 315,000 viewers repped a 41% improvement on last week and 80% on the time period a year ago.

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