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Demo leader NBC wrapped the opening week of the May sweeps with a convincing victory Wednesday behind its drama lineup.

According to nationals from Nielsen, NBC captured Wednesday night by a big 7 shares in adults 18-49 and about 7 million viewers overall. Net won the last five of the night’s six half-hours, paced by “Ed” (which tied for the 18-49 lead at 8:30), “The West Wing” and “Law & Order.”

Big night helped the Peacock expand its lead through one week to 22% over second-place CBS in adults 18-49 (5.0/14 vs. 4.1/11), with ABC and Fox tied for third (3.6/10). UPN and the WB are tied for fifth (1.7/5), while the Frog has leapt ahead in adults 18-34 (1.8/6 vs. 1.6/5).

CBS, UPN and the WB are all up year-to-year in the prized 18-49 demo, while NBC is flat.

Viewers fly to Eye

CBS is also the one-week leader in total viewers, holding a slim 2% advantage over NBC (13.33 million vs. 13.07m). ABC is third (9.13m), followed by Fox (7.96m), UPN (3.95m) and the WB (3.91m).

NBC was led Wednesday by “Law & Order” (19.30m, 7.4/20 in 18-49), the night’s top program. It was down slightly vs. a year ago in 18-49, while “Ed” (9.47m, 3.6/11) at 8 p.m. was off 14% and “The West Wing” (17.40, 6.3/16) was flat.

Overall, the net was down vs. the opening Wednesday a year ago in 18-49 (5.8 vs. 6.0) but still managed to put more distance between itself and its competitors.

ABC and Fox, tied for second on the night with a 3.2, were both off about 25% year-to-year. CBS remained fourth in 18-49, but was up 35% year-to-year (2.7 vs. 2.0) thanks to “The Amazing Race.”

ABC’s hearty laffs

ABC was paced by a leadoff victory by “My Wife & Kids” (10.37m, 3.8/13), easily topping a special firstrun “Malcolm in the Middle” on Fox (5.89m, 2.7/9). And at 8:30, “According to Jim” (9.92m, 3.9/12) again built on its “Wife” demo lead-in; it topped comedy rival “Grounded for Life” on Fox (2.8/8 in 18-49) and tied NBC drama “Ed” for the half-hour’s lead.

ABC and Fox improved their standing at 9:30 by adding repeats of “Drew Carey” and “Bernie Mac,” respectively. Fox’s hour of “Bernie” bested ABC’s hour of “Drew” (3.6/9 to 3.2/8 in 18-49), with CBS’ “Amazing Race” (3.8/10) topping them both and placing second to “West Wing” (6.2/16).

And at 10, “Law & Order” (7.4/20 in 18-49) easily defeated the combined scores of its weak competish: newsmags “Primetime” on ABC (2.6/7) and “48 Hours” on CBS (2.4/7).