ABC gets highest Sunday ratings since 2001

Oprah Winfrey and Halle Berry struck ratings gold again Sunday night with telepic “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” which became the most-watched movie on any net in more than five years.

Very few eyes, meanwhile, were watching the premiere of the WB’s wannabe-actress skein “The Starlet.” The Frog continues to struggle finding a franchise reality series.

For ABC, though, it was a big night, with “Their Eyes” combining with another powerful perf from “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” to produce the net’s highest-rated Sunday (excluding the Super Bowl and Academy Awards) since February 2001.

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, Berry starrer “Their Eyes Were Watching God” (9-11:30 p.m.) averaged an 8.5 rating/21 share in adults 18-49 and 24.6 million viewers overall — the strongest demo delivery for a scripted movie on any net since part one of “Stephen King’s Rose Red” on ABC in January 2002.

And in total viewers, it’s the best showing since Julie Andrews-James Garner romancer “One Special Night” on CBS in November 1999.

It’s also the most robust rating for a movie under the “Oprah Winfrey Presents” banner since the opening night of “The Wedding,” another Berry-led pic, in February 1998 (9.5/21 in 18-49, 24.4 million viewers).

The Alphabet also dominated from 8 to 9 with “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (7.2/17 in adults 18-49, 17.8 million viewers overall) and also led the night’s opening hour in key demos with “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (3.0/9 in adults 18-49, 9.6 million viewers overall).

Overall, ABC enjoyed its largest Sunday aud (excluding the Super Bowl and Academy Awards) since February 2001. And the 25 million viewers from 9 to 11 repped its largest aud in the time period (sans football and Oscars) since the heyday of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” in May 2000.

At the WB, “The Starlet” opened to an anemic 0.7 rating/2 share in adults 18-49 and 1.6 million viewers overall, according to Nielsen prelims, ranking as the least watched of the Frog’s Sunday series.

Skein, featuring Faye Dunaway and Vivica A. Fox as judges of young acting talent, had no chance opposite ABC’s “Home Edition,” an unscripted show that attracts the same femme 12-34 aud that the Frog was seeking. In that demo, “Starlet” registered a 0.9 rating/3 share to a 7.0/20 for the Alphabet smash.

CBS ran second on the night, led by an original “Cold Case” at 8 (3.7/9 in adults 18-49, 15.8 million), and was also runner-up to ABC’s movie from 9 to 11 with special repeats of “CSI: Miami” at 9 (3.7/8 in 18-49, 10.4 million) and “CSI: NY” (3.7/9 in 18-49, 10.4 million).

NBC was paced by a repeat of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” at 9 (3.7/8 in adults 18-49, 10.9 million), Fox by an original “The Simpsons” at 8 (4.2/11 in 18-49, 9.1 million).

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