Stingy ‘Millionaire’

Gameshow pays off, but entourage gets no dividends

“Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” isn’t quite spreading the wealth around the ABC schedule the way the network hoped it would.

Tuesday’s third seg of the gameshow’s November run brought only modest increases to the programs around it and was no help at all to the tiring “Once and Again” at 10 p.m. “Once” fell behind slot rival “Judging Amy” for the first time in adults 18-49 with lowest-yet numbers.

“Millionaire” itself is still piling up the Nielsen riches (13.62 million viewers and an 8.0 rating, 20 share in adults 18-49 Tuesday), more than doubling week-earlier results in the slot with “It’s Like, You Know … ,” but the only ABC schedule-mate that seemed to particularly benefit was the “Millionaire” lead-in, “Spin City,” which attracted 14.22 million viewers and a 5.4/15 in adults 18-49, ABC’s best in the slot since the “Home Improvement” finale last May.

At 9 p.m., “Dharma & Greg” (15.35 million, 6.5/16 in adults 18-49) should have received the biggest “Millionaire” boost but could do no better than tie its second-lowest 18-49 rating of the season.

‘Once and Again’ fading

At 10 p.m., “Once and Again” (7.31 million viewers, 4.7/13 in adults 18-49) faded to third for the hour in adults 18-49, falling behind CBS’ “Judging Amy” (15.92 million, 4.8/13).

“Once” is now performing below worst-ever firstrun “NYPD Blue” results in the slot and well below what ABC could have banked on if it had stuck to its original plan and launched “Blue’s” seventh season in that slot this week.

The biggest reason for the “Once” slippage was probably a timely rally in the slot for “Dateline NBC” (a season-high 12.38 million, 5.2/14 in adults 18-49), as that newsmag strives to shake out of its early-season ratings lethargy during the sweeps.

CBS’ “60 Minutes II” (a season-high 15.44 million, 3.9/10 in adults 18-49) also flourished by countering ABC’s “Millionaire” with a billionaire of its own, Bill Gates, who was interviewed on “60 II” Tuesday.

At 8:30, “Millionaire” settled for the lowest numbers of its November run to date but still beat 12 of 13 household ratings from its hit summer run.

ABC sweeps leader

Teaming with “Annie” and Monday’s Minnesota-Dallas football game, “Millionaire” has ABC leading the sweeps after six days by an average of 2.08 million viewers over second-placers CBS and NBC, and by 1 share in adults 18-49 over NBC. ABC is up 40% over its year-ago 18-49 sweeps average.

Fox’s Tuesday slumped, with each series hitting season lows and “Party of Five” (6.29 million, 3.5/9) falling to its lowest-ever firstrun household rating. The WB ran just 1 share behind Fox in homes and moved ahead in Nielsen’s metered markets.

Each adults 18-49 rating point reps 1.24 million viewers, 1% of the U.S. total. The share is also a percentage, but measured against only viewers watching TV during the slot involved.