Alphabet mulls mate for its 'Housewives'

ABC may have a scheduling dilemma on its hands after new medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy” looked even stronger in its second Sunday outing.

The net is skedded to return “Boston Legal” to the 10 o’clock hour April 24, but Alphabet programmers must be considering an extension of the Sunday stay for “Grey’s Anatomy,” which is delivering the time period’s best numbers in years.

On Sunday, according to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, ABC swept every half-hour in primetime among young adults, paced by another boffo score for “Desperate Housewives” and more big numbers for “Grey’s,” which became the first drama of the season — new or returning — to build its ratings from premiere week to its second telecast.

“Grey’s Anatomy” registered an impressive 7.9 rating/19 share in adults 18-49 and 18.2 million viewers overall to dominate its time period. Even if it declines a tad in nationals — likely since “Desperate Housewives” spilled over into the 10 o’clock hour by a couple of minutes — “Grey’s” will have grown by 7%-8% from its already strong bow.

ABC hasn’t done better Sunday at 10 with a regular program since “The Practice” in May 2001.

“Desperate Housewives” matched its week-ago score to dominate at 9 (prelim 10.7/24 in 18-49, 24.4 million viewers overall), meaning “Grey’s” held onto an even bigger chunk of its lead-in than last week’s 67% retention. Previous slot occupant “Boston Legal” averaged roughly a 50% hold.

ABC execs soon must make a decision regarding “Grey’s,” which has long wrapped its 13-episode order. The show could either remain on Sunday, shift to another night for the May sweep (a dicey prospect for a new show) or end its run as planned after four episodes and return in the summer or fall with a surplus of fresh segs.

For its part, “Boston Legal” could return as planned to Sunday, play out its final episodes on another night (perhaps Tuesday at 10) or roll over any unaired episodes to its presumed second season.

Elsewhere Sunday, ABC also won the 7 o’clock hour in demos with “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (2.6/9 in adults 18-49, 8.6 million viewers overall) and at 8 with “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (5.8/15 in 18-49, 14.7 million).

As is usually the case following the onset of daylight-saving time, viewing levels for early-evening shows were noticeably affected. In fact, according to Nielsen prelims, the 8 o’clock skeins at each major net were down about 20% in adults 18-49 from their firstrun March averages: CBS’ “Cold Case” (3.1/8 in 18-49, 14.6 million), Fox’s “The Simpsons” (3.4/9, 7.3 million) and NBC’s “The Contender” (2.5/7, 5.7 million).

CBS didn’t do much with the premiere of Denzel Washington theatrical “John Q” (2.2/5 in 18-49, 7.6 million), and NBC was below average with an original “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (3.7/8, 12.3 million) and a repeat “Crossing Jordan” (2.7/7, 9.5 million).

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