‘Bernie Mac’ (Fox) vs. ‘My Wife and Kids’ (ABC)

Wednesdays at 8 p.m.

The only two comedies with African-American casts on the major networks will go head to head this fall, as Fox’s “Bernie Mac Show” challenges timeslot leader “My Wife and Kids” on ABC.

The match-up has received a fair amount of press coverage — including a public assertion by “Wife” star Damon Wayans that neither show wins in this arrangement — and it’s likely that both will see reduced ratings.

Fox is looking to use “Bernie Mac,” one of last season’s rookie successes, as an anchor for a retooled night. “Bernie” will be followed by newcomers “Cedric the Entertainer Presents” and “Fastlane.”

“Our goal isn’t to beat Damon Wayans or hurt Damon Wayans, but to benefit two promising shows by putting what we think is a strong sophomore show at the top of the night,” says Fox sked maven Preston Beckman. “It’s more about finally finding an 8 p.m. beachhead show on Wednesday night.”

Although there is obviously some overlap for the shows when it comes to the black audience, there are also enough differences to suggest they can survive.

“My Wife and Kids” draws a crowd that is older (median age of 42) and more female (62% of its adult aud) than “Bernie,” whose median viewer age is 30 and 56% of its adult aud is female. “Wife” viewers are also a bit more upscale, according to Nielsen.

Chief ABC programmer Jeff Bader says the Alphabet is very optimistic about “Wife’s” chances this fall. ” ‘Wife and Kids’ is the incumbent leader and beat (‘Bernie Mac’) in the summer (repeats).”

Bottom line: “My Wife and Kids” is established in this time-slot and plays to a broader audience, helping it remain the show to beat.

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