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ABC tops NBC; ‘Ed’ rolls on new night

Fox rookies 'Normal, Ohio,' 'Street' pick up pace

NBC’s “Ed” is looking like a good fit on its new night, finishing a solid second in Wednesday’s 8 o’clock hour and providing a bigger boost to an already-potent “West Wing.”

ABC edged NBC in both adults 18-49 (5.5 to 5.3) and total viewers (14.6 million to 14.0), but the Peacock now appears positioned for bigger things on Wednesdays with “Ed” in the leadoff hour. The Alphabet aired firstrun episodes throughout the night while NBC went this week with repeats of hits “The West Wing” and “Law & Order” from 9-11.

According to Nielsen, the first Wednesday outing of the critical fave “Ed” averaged 11.96 million viewers and an adults 18-49 rating of 4.9/14 — NBC’s largest in-season audience in the 8 p.m. hour with series programming since April 12 (“Dateline”) and matching its best demo mark since March 3, 1999 (also “Dateline”). It placed second by both measures to ABC’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (20.94m, 5.6/15).

“Ed’s” scores top NBC’s timeslot average this season with “Titans” by 51% in viewers and by 48% in 18-49. It’s also better than the last four Sunday showings for “Ed,” which started off very hot and then faded in a tough timeslot opposite entrenched hits.

Rookie of the year

NBC has had little success with its rookie class this fall, but in “Ed” it saw a chance to spotlight its most promising first-year series as part of a night of quality dramas.

“Ed” is also a good fit on Wednesday because of its audience makeup, which includes a heavy concentration of upscale viewers 18-49.

According to Nielsen’s National Audience Demographic (NAD) data for the first month of the season, “Ed” indexes higher than any other show in primetime among viewers 18-49 in households with income of $75,000 or more.

While other shows generate higher ratings by this measure because of their larger base of viewers age 18-49 (“ER” and three NBC comedies top the list), “Ed’s” 18-49 audience has the highest density of $75,000-plus 18-49 viewers for any show on primetime during October. New Wednesday skedmates “The West Wing” and “Law & Order” rank second and third, respectively.

Repeat performance

With “Ed” providing a stronger lead-in, “The West Wing” delivered its best-ever numbers for a repeat episode, winning its hour in viewers (15.53 million) and finishing 2 shares behind ABC’s firstrun comedies in 18-49 (5.5/14 to 6.6/16). Compared with a repeat episode in the same week a year ago, “The West Wing” was up 67% in the demo and 65% in viewers.

ABC claimed the night’s No. 1 show in viewers, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (20.94m), and the top two programs in adults 18-49, “Drew Carey” (7.0/17) and “Spin City” (6.2/15).

Elsewhere on Wednesday, a pair of Fox rookies picked things up a bit.

Laffer “Normal, Ohio,” which for the first time did not face any direct comedy competition, delivered its best numbers in the five weeks since its premiere (8.08m, 3.9/10), retaining a strong 93% of its repeat “Simpsons” lead-in. And drama “The Street,” which has been struggling to gain any traction in its slot opposite “West Wing” originals, cashed in with its best ratings in four weeks (5.19m, 2.5/6).

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