ABC ‘Rules’ record

Ritter, Fox's baseball lead Tuesday

HOLLYWOOD — Nearly 18 million viewers, a series record, said goodbye to John Ritter on Tuesday night, as the final original episode of ABC comedy “8 Simple Rules” to feature the late actor was the evening’s biggest draw.

It was also a strong evening for Fox, whose first game of baseball’s league championship series — featuring the popular Chicago Cubs — drew the largest opening-game aud for the round in 10 years. And things are looking better for the WB drama “One Tree Hill,” which has rebounded some from its weak opening-night showing.

According to Nielsen, “8 Simple Rules” established series highs Tuesday in adults 18-49 (7.1/21) and total viewers (17.72 million). Skein, which halted production after the death of Ritter last month, will return in a few weeks with new episodes that address the death of his character.

Alphabet numbers

ABC also led in adults 18-49 at 8:30 with “I’m With Her” (5.2/14) and at 9 with “According to Jim” (5.2/13), which topped NBC’s “Frasier” (4.6/12) for the third straight week and drew its largest overall aud (12.26 million) since November.

The Alphabet was Tuesday’s top entertainment choice in 18-49 (4.8/12), trailing only Fox, whose coverage of Game 1 of the Florida Marlins-Cubs series (5.8/16 in 18-49, 15.57 million viewers overall) was up a big 53% from last year in 18-49.

This is the most-watched national telecast of a league championship series game in 10 years (Game 6 of Atlanta-Philadelphia) and it drew the best male demos since 1996.

Fox’s big year-to-year gains took a toll on its competish, as all of the other five broadcasters were down.

The WB’s Tuesday remains well off its pace of a year ago, although there were some more signs of life: Vet “Gilmore Girls” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 5.14m) and first-year “One Tree Hill” (1.4/3, 3.54m) hit season highs in week three.

“Gilmore” rallied to its best scores of fall in all key demos, ranking No. 2 for the hour in femmes 12-34 (3.7/11).

And at 9, “One Tree Hill” was up 21% week-to-week in 18-34 (to 1.7/5), ranking fourth for the hour after placing sixth in its first two weeks. It also built on “Gilmore” among teens.

‘Whoopi’ rolls on

NBC’s “Whoopi” (2.8/8 in 18-49, 7.99 million viewers overall) and “Happy Family” (3.3/9, 8.61m) again delivered OK perfs from 8 to 9, and “Good Morning Miami” (4.1/10) tied ABC’s “Less Than Perfect” (4.2/10) for second, behind baseball, at 9:30. “Miami” held a strong 89% of its “Frasier” lead-in.

At CBS, “Navy NCIS” (2.9/8) and “The Guardian” (2.7/7) inched up to season highs in 18-49, although they remained fourth in the demo.

Ratings for Tuesday’s 10 o’clock dramas were all soft, due to preemption or time shifts in the West due to local coverage of the California gubernatorial election.

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