Morning Ratings Flash - Rick Kissell

One of John Ritter’s final episodes of “8 Simple Rules” was easily the top-rated program on the first Tuesday of the season, driving ABC to victory on the night among adults 18-49. “Rules” also helped the ABC comedies airing behind it, including the new “I’m With Her,” to a strong start.

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, “8 Simple Rules” (6.8/21 in adults 18-49, 16.9 million viewers overall) hit a series high with its season opener and teamed with the premiere of romantic comedy “I’m With Her” (5.6/16 in adults 18-49, 13.1 million viewers overall) to give ABC an easy victory in the night’s opening hour. “According to Jim” (5.5/14 in adults 18-49, 12.1 million viewers overall) also led at 9 in the demo, and second-year “Less Than Perfect” (4.2/10 in adults 18-49) fell off to second place.

At 10, though, ABC’s “NYPD Blue” (3.9/10 in adults 18-49) ran a distant second to NBC’s new slot occupant, “Law & Order: SVU” (5.3/14 in adults 18-49, 13.4 million viewers overall). In the same hour, CBS’ “Judging Amy” (3.0/8 in adults 18-49, 11.8 million viewers overall) joined “Blue” in performing well behind its year-ago premiere levels.

NBC received strong scores from a one-hour “Frasier” (first-place 5.3/14 in adults 18-49, 14.3 million viewers overall), which was down from its year-ago preem but improved decidely on its season-ending scores. From 8 to 9, rookie laffers “Whoopi” (2.9/9 in adults 18-49, 8.9 million viewers overall) and “Happy Family” (3.2/9 in adults 18-49, 9.2 million viewers overall) again declined but are still at respectable levels given the ABC momentum in the hour.

Fox ran third on the night in 18-49 and first in 18-34 with a two-hour “Paradise Hotel” (3.1/8 in adults 18-49).

At CBS, “JAG” spinoff “Navy NCIS” (2.6/8 in adults 18-49, 12.4 million viewers overall) placed fourth in 18-49 but moved up to second in adults 25-54. At 9, “The Guardian” (2.6/7 in adults 18-49, 11.8 million viewers overall) retained the 18-49 lead-in from “NCIS” and posted its best 25-54 score since February.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: ABC, 5.0/13; NBC, 4.5/12; Fox, 3.1/8; CBS, 2.7/7.

In total viewers: NBC, 12.2 million; CBS, 12.0 million; ABC, 11.9 million; Fox, 6.7 million.

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