Philbin phenom worth a ‘Mil’

Gamer is top-rated show in key demos

It’s Regis to the rescue of ABC, take two.

Four years after his phenomenon quizzer “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” catapulted the Alphabet web to the top of the Nielsens, Regis Philbin was back stirring up big ratings for the struggling net Sunday with “Super Millionaire.”

With the first of its five February sweep specials, “Super Millionaire” was Sunday’s top-rated program in key demos and total viewers, lifting ABC to a rare nightly victory among young adults.

From 9 to 10, according to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, “Super Millionaire” averaged a slot-leading 5.7/13 in adults 18-49 and 17.5 million viewers overall, topping NBC’s second-place “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (5.1/11 in 18-49, 14.1 million).

Best showing since Dec. 10

The 5.7 rating in 18-49 — the best for any ABC entertainment program since “Trista and Ryan’s Wedding” on Dec. 10 — is even more impressive since HBO was also a factor in the hour with the series finale of “Sex and the City.” Ratings for “Sex,” as well as the SAG Awards on TNT, will be released today.

“Super Millionaire,” which offers cash prizes up to $10 million, is airing five times over a six-night span. If successful, ABC likely will bring the quizzer back in May for another spurt of episodes.

ABC also did well Sunday with week two of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” at 8, which ran second for its hour in 18-49 (3.8/9), and at 7 with “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (first-place 3.0/9 in 18-49), according to prelims.

Only downer on the night for ABC was that “The Practice” (prelim 3.4/9 in 18-49, 10 million) didn’t get much of a bounce from “Millionaire,” finishing well behind a repeat of NBC’s “Law & Order: CI” (4.8/13 in 18-49, 12.4m).

Elsewhere, Fox won in all under-50 categories from 8 to 9 with an original “Simpsons” (5.5/13 in 18-49, 12.5m) and a repeat seg (5.5/13 in 18-49, 12.8m), while the 100th episode of “Malcolm in the Middle” placed third among the broadcasters in its tough 9 o’clock slot (4.2/9 in 18-49, 10.4m).

CBS was led by another good outing for “Cold Case” (3.6/9 in 18-49, 15.3m), which jumped 2 shares from its “60 Minutes” lead-in and led the 8 o’clock hour in adults 25-54 (5.0/11).

Overall, in the Nielsen prelim nationals, ABC (4.0/10) edged out Fox (3.9/10) and NBC (3.8/10) for the night’s 18-49 lead. The Alphabet also nosed out CBS in total viewers.

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