‘NYPD’ buoys ABC as star ‘Millionaire’ dims

Alphabet tops Fox by 1 share in 18-49

Celebrity “Millionaire” isn’t what it used to be, but it teamed with strong ratings for “NYPD Blue” on Tuesday to lift ABC to victory.

According to Nielsen, ABC topped runner-up Fox by 1 share in adults 18-49 and second-place CBS by 2.2 million viewers in overall audience. While the struggling net will gladly take these scores, they are significantly less than what ABC needed to get back into the May sweeps race.

Through 13 nights of the four-week sweep period, ABC remains fourth in adults 18-49 and third in total viewers, just one year after finishing first in both.

“Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” easily won its 8 p.m. hour in total viewers (17.16 million) but landed in a virtual tie with Fox’s comedies in the key demo of adults 18-49 (4.9/14). On the first Tuesday of celebrity “Millionaire” last November, the quizzer topped “That ’70s Show” and “Titus” by a healthy 6 shares.

While nobody expected the quizzer to perform anywhere near its levels of last May’s celeb editions, ratings for this month’s star-studded segs are surprisingly mild — and even well behind last November’s celeb hours. Tuesday’s adults 18-49 rating, for example, is 60% lower than the Tuesday celeb hour last May (12.4) and 35% lower than the Tuesday celeb edition in November (7.5).

Farewell draws auds

ABC pulled out the night in adults 18-49 thanks to the best numbers in five weeks for “NYPD Blue” (14.68m, 6.3/16 in A18-49), which said goodbye to Kim Delaney’s character. “Blue” topped CBS’ “Judging Amy” (13.72m, 4.4/11) by virtually every measure, even though “Amy” had its best showing since February.

Fox placed second in adults 18-49 (4.6/13) and first in adults 18-34 (5.3/15), boosted by the best 18-49 rating in two months for “Dark Angel” (4.3/11). Net also got more strong marks from comedies “That ’70s Show” (first-place 5.1/16 in A18-49) and “Titus” (second-place 4.8/13).

NBC was led by first-place finishes at 9 for “Frasier” (14.50m, 6.1/16 in A18-49) and 9:30 for “Three Sisters” (10.76m, 5.2/13). “Sisters,” airing its season finale, retained a solid 85% of “Frasier’s” 18-49 lead-in, keeping it ahead of ABC’s “What About Joan” (4.7/12). “Joan,” for its part, held a strong 98% of its “Dharma & Greg” 18-49 lead-in (4.8/12).

’60 Minutes II’ runs slow

CBS was a solid No. 2 in total viewers but was dragged down in the demo department by “60 Minutes II,” which dipped to its lowest 18-49 score (2.2/6) since October.

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” lifted the WB to its best Tuesday since February (5.1m, 2.6/7 in A18-49), while UPN (1.7m, 0.7/2) fell even further behind the pack with a rejigged lineup of “Seven Days” followed by “Chains of Love.”

Sweep standings through Tuesday have NBC on top in adults 18-49 (4.7/13) with CBS second (4.3/12) and Fox third (4.2/12). CBS leads in total viewers (13.8 million), well ahead of second-place NBC (11.4m).

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