Auds swoon for ABC’s last dance

'3 Lbs.' lightweight in series debut

The final performance seg of “Dancing With the Stars” delivered monster ratings Tuesday night for ABC, racking up the second-best scores to date for the skein and attracting the largest overall audience for any program this fall.

News wasn’t very good, meanwhile, over at CBS for the premiere of 10 o’clock medical drama “3 Lbs.,” which came in below what “Smith” did in the hour earlier this fall.

According to national in-home viewing estimates from Nielsen, the hoofing exhibitions of Mario Lopez and Emmitt Smith on “Dancing With the Stars” averaged a big 7.5 rating/20 share in adults 18-49, and 26.8 million viewers overall, from 8 to 9:30 p.m., peaking with an 8.4 rating in the demo and nearly 29 million viewers in its final half-hour.

ABC hasn’t done this well in the time period since celebrity “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” in May 2000.

Only the conclusion of the second edition of the series, in February on a Sunday, has fared better (8.6/19 in 18-49, 27.2 million viewers overall). The one-hour finale of “Dancing,” with the winner revealed, aired Wednesday night.

Following “Dancing,” ABC averaged a 3.8/10 in 18-49, and 12.39 million viewers overall, from 9:30 to 11 for a special preview of William Shatner-hosted gameshow “Show Me the Money.” By its final half-hour, it was down to a 2.9 rating in the demo.

Series will be airing in Wednesday’s opening hour beginning Nov. 22, replacing the results-show edition of “Dancing.”

At CBS, “NCIS” (4.1/11 in 18-49, 15.80m) held up well opposite “Dancing,” coming within a tick of the previous week’s season-high result.

“The Unit” fell off at 9 (3.5/9 in 18-49, 11.84m) but performed admirably against its own brutal competish, and medical drama “3 Lbs.” ran third in its premiere at 10 (2.9/8 in 18-49, 9.86m).

“3 Lbs.,” starring Stanley Tucci and Mark Feuerstein as neurosurgeons, came in 12% below the 3.3 average that got “Smith” yanked in October after just three airings. Skein held onto its female audience from “The Unit,” but not the men.

One positive for “3 Lbs.” was that it maintained its demo aud in the second half-hour, meaning viewers who started with the show stuck with it.

Elsewhere, NBC’s “Friday Night Lights” remained low (2.3/6 in 18-49, 5.48m) before the net picked things up at 9 with “Law & Order: CI” (3.1/8, 9.14m). “Law & Order: SVU” then rose to the lead at 10 (5.3/15, 14.76m), matching its best delivery since April.

It was again feast and famine for Fox, with “Standoff” struggling at 8 (2.0/5 in 18-49, 4.64m) and “House” strong at 9 (6.2/15, 14.60m). “House” was the clear choice at 9:30, following the conclusion of ABC’s “Dancing.”

CW’s “Gilmore Girls” (2.0/5, 4.51m) and “Veronica Mars” (1.2/3, 2.69m) were on par with recent weeks.

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