‘Nanny’ nuptials take cake

'Ellen' finale finds few takers

The wedding episode of CBS’ “The Nanny” has marched to that series’ highest Nielsens since Sept. 25, 1996, but the final firstrun airing of ABC’s “Ellen” equaled that sitcom’s second-lowest firstrun rating ever.

In Nielsen results for May 13, “The Nanny” sailed off with an 11.9 rating, 21 share, up 49% over its season average, while the “Ellen” finale stumbled to a 7.1/11, down 19% from its season average. That “Ellen” rating was ABC’s lowest in the Wednesday 9-10 p.m. hour with firstrun entertainment programming since July 12, 1989 (“Hooperman,” “Robert Guillaume.”)

The “Nanny” surge likely helps solidify that fourth-year comedy’s renewal chances, which were probably not in serious doubt, though a formal renewal announcement has yet to come from CBS. Meanwhile, “Ellen’s” disappointing end only lent more support to ABC’s decision to give up on the controversial fifth-year comedy that had faded consistently since its title character’s coming out as lesbian a year ago.

Demo winner, too

The gap between the two sitcom episodes narrowed in the key adults 18-49 demographic, where “Nanny” earned a 5.7/18 and “Ellen” attracted a 5.2/13.

CBS estimates about 23 million watched at least some of the “Nanny” wedding, which won its hour in homes and adults 25-54 and tied Fox’s “Beverly Hills, 90210” (7.3/13 in home) in adults 18-49. It was CBS’ highest homes rating that hour since the Jan. 4, 1995, debut of the short-lived “Women of the House.”

Left out of the “Nanny” festivities were slot rival programs “Drew Carey” (7.1/13), “Dharma & Greg” (7.8/13) on ABC and “Smart Guy” (2.2/4) on WB, each of which hit lowest-yet firstrun ratings.

In New York, “The Nanny” earned an impressive 21.4/31, up 75% over its season average 12.2/18. L.A. tossed the wedding episode a 12.6/19, more than twice its average 6.2/10 in that market.

‘Party’ not so hearty

In other Wednesday results, Fox’s “Party of Five” (8.2/13) fell 10% short of last year’s season-closing rating, while NBC’s season-ending “Working” (7.2/11) faded 17% below its lead-in. UPN’s “Star Trek: Voyager” (3.9/6) equaled its best rating in 10 weeks.

Nationally, CBS won the night in homes but remained fourth in adults 18-49. Fox won in that demo, a comfortable 2 shares ahead of ABC.

Three full weeks into the four-week May sweeps, household averages are: NBC, a 10.8 rating, 18 share (up in rating by 7% vs. results for the same period last year); CBS, 8.9/15 (down 14%); ABC, 7.8/13 (down 14%); Fox, 7.1/12 (even). In adults 18-49, the sweeps averages are: NBC, 7.1/20 (up 8%); Fox, 5.1/15 (down 2%); ABC, 4.4/13 (down 24%); CBS, 3.8/11 (down 16%).

Each household rating point represents an estimated 980,000 homes, or 1% of the country’s TV homes. Each adults 18-49 rating point reps 1.23 million viewers, 1% of the U.S. total. A share is the same sort of percentage, except it’s measured against only the homes or viewers watching TV during the timeslot involved.