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‘The People v. O.J. Simpson’ Ratings Rise After Headline-Making Knife Discovery

With the real case back in the headlines last week, FX’s “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” edged up in the ratings Tuesday.

FX will report three-day ratings next week, but according to Nielsen’s “live plus same-day” estimates for last night, “The People v. O.J. Simpson” averaged a 1.25 rating in adults 18-49 and 3 million viewers overall for its regular 10 p.m. telecast — besting timeslot drama competitors “Limitless” on CBS (1.1 in 18-49) and “Of Kings and Prophets” on ABC (0.8). For “People v. O.J. Simpson,” this was a week-over-week increase of 8% in the demo (from 1.15) and 10% in total viewers (from 2.72 million) for the show’s most-watched episode in three weeks.

Tuesday’s episode, the sixth of 10 in the series, came four days after news surfaced that a knife was found buried on Simpson’s former property. It wasn’t investigated until now because a Los Angeles police officer had sat on it for nearly 20 years.

On average through its first four weeks, the first season of FX’s “American Crime Story” anthology series has averaged a 1.5 in 18-49 and 3.83 million total viewers in same-day numbers. And in “live plus-3,” which includes three days’ worth of time-shifted viewing and VOD, it mushrooms up to 3.0 in the demo and 7.21 million. Among original scripted cable series this winter, only AMC’s “The Walking Dead” has been drawing better than “The People v. O.J. Simpson.”

The show has been especially strong in Xfinity on Demand, with its Feb. 23 episode the top-rated program for the week on the service, ahead of even “The Big Bang Theory” and “The Walking Dead.”

FX sought to take advantage of the free publicity by scheduling a special, commercial-free marathon on Saturday night. It didn’t do great ratings wise (averaging about 530,000 viewers), but it gave more people a chance to discover the buzzed-about series.

Over the weekend, NBC also benefited from heightened interest in the “Trial of the Century” with its two-hour special Sunday edition of “Dateline” called “The People v. O.J. Simpson: What the Jury Never Heard,” featuring an interview with Marcia Clark, the prosecutor in the 1995 murder trial. It averaged a 1.4 rating/4 share in adults 18-49 and 5.94 million total viewers, according to Nielsen, making it the newsmagazine’s top-rated Sunday edition in more than three years and its top-rated on any night since a Friday installment in November 2014.

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