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The rescue squad

NBC, CBS share telepic pie with 'Lynch,' 'Smart'

This article was updated at 7:50 p.m.

There was room for two high-profile original movies on Sunday, as NBC’s “Saving Jessica Lynch” and CBS’ “Elizabeth Smart Story” scored with auds — helping to bring more viewers to the broadcast nets.

Instead of cannibalizing each other, NBC and CBS enjoyed their strongest Sundays of the season and were up vs. the same sweep night of a year ago, according to preliminary nationals from Nielsen. Fox was also up a bit; ABC was down.

The broadcast nets have been struggling on Sundays in recent years, but overall, the five webs combined for a 46 share in adults 18-49, up from last year’s 44.

In prelim results, CBS rode an NFL overrun and its movie to win the night in 18-49 (4.9/12), 25-54 (6.1/14) and total viewers (16.9 million) — the first time in five years that the Eye has won in 18-49 on a Sunday in the November sweep.

Strong finish has the Eye in good shape to top the week in 18-49 for the first time this season, either tying NBC at a 4.6 rating or winning outright.

CBS program averages are a bit sketchy due to the roughly 30 minutes of football, but it appears that “Elizabeth Smart” (5.4/14 in 18-49, 15.6 million viewers overall) and “Jessica Lynch” (5.4/13 in 18-49, 14.9m) finished in a virtual dead heat among adults 18-49, with the CBS pic drawing a larger aud overall.

These are the best 18-49 scores for a movie on any net since a repeat of theatrical “The Santa Clause” on ABC last November and the strongest for an original movie since the opening night of ABC’s “Dinotopia” in May 2002.

The Peacock also got nice contributions from “Dateline’s” best showing since premiere week (2.9/8 in 18-49, 10.0m) and a special 8 o’clock seg of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (4.3/10 in 18-49, 13.0m).

Fox received 18-49 slot victories from “The Simpsons” with both an original seg at 8 (5.8/14) and a repeat at 8:30 (6.0/14). At 9:30, though, new comedy “Arrested Development” (3.0/7 in 18-49, 6.7m) retained a soft 70% of its 18-49 lead-in from “Malcolm in the Middle” (4.3/10 in 18-49, 9.8m).

ABC didn’t do too much on the night, although “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (2.9/8 in 18-49, 9.5m) inched up to a season high and “Alias” (projected 3.9/9 in 18-49, 9.2m) appears to be up week-to-week.

* * *

Final nationals for Friday showed a strong night for the WB’s comedy lineup, which hit season highs in persons 12-34 (1.9/7) and femmes 12-34 (2.7/10), ranking second in both.

Leading the way as usual was “Reba” (1.8/6 in 18-49, 4.85m), which tied with ABC’s “Hope & Faith” as the evening’s No. 1 program in females 12-34 (3.2/11) and scored its best numbers since February in several categories.

“Like Family” (2.6/10 in females 12-34), “Grounded for Life” (2.7/9) and “All About the Andersons” (2.3/8) also hit season highs. In some young-femme categories, “Grounded” posted its best numbers since joining the WB last season.

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