Morning Ratings Flash - Rick Kissell

ABC, behind “My Wife and Kids” and “The Bachelor,” and NBC, with strong bows from vet dramas “Ed,” “West Wing” and “Law & Order,” overwhelmed their rivals on the opening Wednesday of the season, finishing in a virtual tie in the key demographic of adults 18-49.

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, ABC received strong opening-week perfs from an hourlong “My Wife and Kids” (5.8/17 in adults 18-49, 13.7 million viewers overall) and a two-hour preem for the latest edition of reality skein “The Bachelor” (5.9/15 in adults 18-49, 12.4 million viewers overall). “Bachelor” placed second to NBC among adults 18-49 in each half-hour while prevailing among the more narrow 18-34 crowd.

NBC’s “Ed” (3.9/11 in adults 18-49, 10.7 million viewers overall) improved on its year-ago premiere and placed a solid second at 8, while “West Wing” (6.1/15 in adults 18-49, 18.1 million viewers overall) led the 9 o’clock hour outright in 18-49 for the first time in nearly a year. “Law & Order” (7.5/20 in adults 18-49, 20.5 million viewers overall) closed out the night with a powerful perf, ranking as the highest-rated program of the early season in 18-49.

CBS, third in both 18-49 and 25-54, was led by the finale of “Big Brother 4,” whose third-place 4.1/11 in adults 18-49 was on par with its recent scores and well below last year’s finale, which also aired during premiere week (5.6/14). At 10, David E. Kelley drama “The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H.” (2.6/7 in adults 18-49, 8.3 million viewers overall) ran a distant third in the hour in 18-49, coming in below the preem scores of the short-lived “Presidio Med” and “Wolf Lake” in this hour the past two years.

Fox, with a two-hour edition of “Performing As” (3.0/8 in adults 18-49, 6.6 million viewers overall) ran fourth.

Prelim 18-49 averages for the night: ABC, 5.9/16; NBC, 5.8/16; CBS, 3.0/8; Fox, 2.9/8; UPN, 1.2/3; WB, 0.8/2.

In total viewers: NBC, 16.4 million; ABC, 12.8 million; CBS, 9.8 million; Fox, 6.7 million; UPN, 2.8 million; WB, 2.1 million.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more