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‘Blue’ collars aud

Finale nabs a ratings high

Sipowicz and the gang sailed off into the sunset a ratings winner Tuesday night as ABC’s “NYPD Blue” ended its 12-season run by apprehending its largest audience since 2001.

The groundbreaking police drama, which bowed in September 1993, won its long-held 10 o’clock hour Tuesday in adults 18-49 (5.2 rating/13 share) and total viewers (16.08 million), according to Nielsen — more than 50% above the show’s final-season averages.

It also posted a strong 6.5/15 in adults 25-54.

“Blue” hasn’t done this well in 18-49 since October 2002 and hasn’t drawn as large an overall audience since November 2001. A one-hour retrospective on the show’s 12-year-run, hosted by former series regular Jimmy Smits, averaged a solid 4.2/10 in 18-49 and 13.34 million viewers.

Overall, ABC enjoyed its highest-rated nonsports Tuesday since November 2003. Next week, another Stephen Bochco copshow, “Blind Justice,” premieres in the 10 o’clock “Blue” slot for ABC.

Opposite “Blue,” the seventh edition of “The Amazing Race” on CBS (4.9/12 in adults 18-49, 11.76m) performed almost identically to the premiere of “Race 6” in November, placing second both hours in 18-49. At 8, the net’s “NCIS” (3.2/8 in 18-49, 13.68m) had its best showing opposite “American Idol” this season.

As for Fox’s musical competish titan (11.0/28 in 18-49, 26.90m), it was its usual dominant self — down a bit vs. last week but still delivering roughly the same 18-49 score as the other five broadcast nets combined. Drama “House” (6.2/15 in 18-49, 15.63m) followed with another winning perf at 9.

NBC was paced by “Law & Order: SVU” at 10 (4.7/12 in 18-49, 12.29m), although it hit a firstrun season low opposite the “NYPD Blue” finale.

UPN was stronger than usual at 9 with an “America’s Next Top Model” spec (1.7/4 in 18-49, 3.86m), one night prior to the kickoff of the franchise’s fourth edition.

On cable, the third season of country music talent show “Nashville Star” opened well for USA, leading all cablers in the 10 o’clock hour in adults 18-49 (0.9/2), adults 25-54 (1.0/2) and total viewers (2.5 million) .

And E! attracted roughly 209,000 viewers at 7:30 p.m. with the first night of its Michael Jackson trial re-creations. A repeat at 9 o’clock fared better, drawing 403,000.

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