Morning Ratings Flash - Rick Kissell

ABC edged out NBC on Sunday among young adults, with vet drama “The Practice” opening up some distance on competing 10 o’clock legal hour “The Lyon’s Den.” Fox, which was expected to win the night, ended up out of the game as its Red Sox-Yankees postseason baseball contest was rained out.

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, ABC’s “The Practice” (4.4/11 in adults 18-49, 10.8 million viewers overall) delivered its strongest numbers since last December, topping NBC’s “The Lyon’s Den” (3.4/9 in adults 18-49, 10 million viewers overall) by a best-yet 29% in 18-49. “Lyon’s Den,” though, was up week-to-week as well and retained roughly the same percentage of its “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” lead-in (first-place 4.7/12 in adults 18-49, 14 million viewers overall) as last season’s “Boomtown” in the same time period.

The 8 o’clock drama battle was competitive in key demos, with NBC’s “American Dreams” expected to prevail in adults 18-49 (3.0/8) and CBS’ “Cold Case” in adults 25-54 and total viewers. (Numbers for “Cold Case” are a bit sketchy as an NFL overrun pushed back the drama’s start in much of the country.) The WB’s “Charmed” was the top drama draw among adults 18-34, while ABC’s “10-8″ should come in a tick or two out of the hour’s 18-49 lead.

CBS, with its combo of “60 Minutes” and “Cold Case,” led from 7:30 to 8:30 in 18-49 and total viewers, but original movie “Footsteps” struggled in closing out the evening.

Fox got the night off to a solid start with the end of the Cubs-Marlins game spilling into primetime. Last-minute movie sub “Varsity Blues” didn’t do much from 8 to 10 (prelim 2.5/6 in 18-49, 5.9 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: ABC, 3.4/9; NBC, 3.3/9; Fox, 2.9/8; CBS, 2.8/8; WB, 1.7/5.

In total viewers: CBS led with 11.6 million.

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