Hitting the jackpot or ABC’s cash & ‘Carey’

Alphabet Web's 'Millionaire' cashes in on ratings

NEW YORK — ABC’s summer gameshow “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” is off to a fast Nielsen start, debuting Monday with the best ratings of any summer series this year.

Hosted by daytime talk king Regis Philbin, the Alphabet skein snared 9.99 million viewers from 8:30-9 p.m., averaging a 7.3 rating/13 share. “Millionaire” easily won its timeslot in homes, viewers, kids and adults 35-49, and improved upon its “Drew Carey” spec lead-in by a stunning 42%.

Among adults 18-49, the demo group ABC cares most about, “Millionaire” averaged a 3.7 rating, finishing a close second to Fox’s successful summer run of “That ’70s Show” (3.9).

Aud increased

Particularly encouraging for ABC was the show’s aud build within the half-hour: The second 15 minutes of the program were higher-rated than the first 15-minute seg in every one of the 46 metered markets where Nielsen supplies such info.

ABC execs are hoping “Millionaire” mirrors the aud growth pattern of the original U.K. gameshow from which the Alphabet’s version has been spun off. The Brit skein started off with solid ratings and quickly built viewers on consecutive nights, eventually snagging over a 70 share of the available audience.

In an unusual move, Alphabet web is stripping “Millionaire” over the next two weeks, hoping to build viewer interest as the show’s daily prize jackpot grows.

Winning combo

The combo of “Millionaire” and the conclusion of “The Langoliers” from 9-11 p.m. helped ABC win Monday night in viewers and among adults 18-49.

Each household ratings point reps 994,000 TV homes. Each adults 18-49 ratings point reps 1.24 million viewers.

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