NBC topples ABC Tuesday

ABC’s decade-long dominance on Tuesday night came to an abrupt halt this week, as NBC’s lineup glided to an easy win and sent the Alphabet web to its lowest Tuesday on record with regular originals.

It was the first Tuesday of the season with regular programming going head-to-head on all the networks, and NBC won every half hour from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the key adults 18-49 demo.

Leading the way was NBC’s “Frasier,” which outperformed an original of ABC’s “Home Improvement” in young adults (10.3 vs. 8.6) and total viewers (20.7 million vs. 19.2 million) for the first time ever. “Frasier” also won in households (14.4/22 vs. 12.3/19), which it has done just once before against the Tim Allen starrer.

For the night, NBC was first with a 12.3/20 in households, up 10% from the same week last year, and an 8.1 in young adults, a 16% increase from one year ago. ABC fell to second with a 9.9/16 in homes, off a full 30% from last year, and a 6.5 in young adults, down a dramatic 33%.

CBS was third in homes (8.3/13) and fourth in young adults (2.9), while Fox, which aired the movie “Wolf,” was fourth in homes (5.6/9) and third in young adults (3.6). UPN was fifth with a 3.0/5 in homes and a 1.4 in young adults.

NBC may have received a boost for the night from promos aired during baseball, which had preempted the Tuesday lineup for the past few weeks. At 8 p.m., for instance, NBC’s heavily promoted “Speed Baby” episode of “Mad About You” (11.8/19 in homes and 7.7 adults 18-49) flew past ABC’s “Soul Man” (8.6/14 and 5.3) in their first head-to-head match.

“Mad” was up 12% from last year in young adults, while “Soul Man,” which had its lowest rating yet, was down 35% from the performance of “Roseanne” in the 8 p.m. slot last year. “Soul Man” producers are lobbying for the show to be moved back to the more protected 8:30 p.m. timeslot, and sources say there’s a good chance that could happen.

At 8:30 p.m., NBC’s “NewsRadio” (10.4/16 homes and 7.2 adults 18-49) won its timeslot in young adults, although the top honor in homes went to the second half of CBS’ “JAG” by two-tenths of a rating point. That was CBS’ first household win in the timeslot since last November. “JAG” averaged a 10.2/16 for the hour in homes, its highest since the premiere on NBC in 1995, but it placed third for the hour in young adults (3.7).

The second episode of ABC’s “Over the Top” dropped two share points from “Soul Man,” placed third in homes (7.5) and scored the lowest rating on record for a regular original in the timeslot. “Over the Top” was second in young adults (4.8), but it dropped 36% from the timeslot performance last year in that demo with “Life’s Work,” making its prospects bleak.

ABC’s weakness from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. dragged “Home Improvement” to its lowest regularly scheduled original episode ever in homes (12.3/19). It also tied its lowest rating ever in young adults (8.6). “Home” fell 35% below its year-ago rating in young adults even after jumping a full nine share points from lead-in in that demo.

At 9:30 p.m., ABC’s “Hiller & Diller” tumbled to an 8.4/13 in homes and a 5.5 in young adults, which was a whopping 47% drop from last year with “Spin City.” NBC’s 9:30 p.m. sitcom “Just Shoot Me” (12.2/19 homes and 9.1 adults 18-49) lost 12% of its “Frasier” lead-in in young adults, but easily outperformed “Hiller & Diller” by 65%.

Despite that bloodbath, sources say ABC plans to order more episodes of “Hiller & Diller,” which is produced by parent company Disney.

At 10 p.m., NBC’s “Dateline” (12.5/22 homes and 7.1 adults 18-49) won in homes, but ABC had its only win of the night in young adults, by a hair, with “NYPD Blue” (11.2/20 homes and 7.3 adults 18-49)

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