HOLLYWOOD — There was no big ratings payoff for Fox drama “24” on the final Tuesday of the season, although it topped its drama competition in key demos.

According to Nielsen, the hour-by-hour drama “24” wrapped its initial season by averaging a 4.6 rating/11 share in adults 18-49 and 9.25 million viewers overall. From 9 to 10, it defeated drama rivals “NYPD Blue,” “The Guardian,” “Smallville” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in 18-49, but the result — merely its best demo score since late March — was underwhelming, given its strong lead-in and the serialized nature of the program.

Instead, it appears the critically adored show attracted a core following but didn’t entice many of its occasional viewers to check out the final hour. Series returns on Tuesdays next fall.

Fox won the night in adults 18-34 and finished just a tick behind NBC for the adults 18-49 lead. CBS led the way in total viewers despite fourth-place demo finishes.

Slow night for big nets

Overall, it was a pretty gloomy night for the major networks, each of which was down year-to-year in both key demos and total viewers.

The Big Four’s anchor series (CBS’ “JAG” and “Judging Amy,” NBC’s “Frasier,” ABC’s “NYPD Blue” and Fox’s “That ’70s Show”) were all down vs. last season’s closing Tuesday.

The netlets took advantage, as UPN (with a two-hour “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) was up 160% year-to-year in 18-49 and the WB (with “Gilmore Girls” and “Smallville”) was up 12%. “Buffy” grabbed some of its best femme demos since its season preem, while the Frog’s red-hot “Gilmore” hit series highs among young women.

Fox’s “That ’70s Show” won the opening hour in adults 18-49 with an original (5.0/15) and a repeat (5.1/14). NBC’s “Frasier,” the No. 1 show of the night (16.50m, 6.7/17 in A18-49), led at 9, and the final hour of ABC’s two-hour “NYPD Blue” finale won at 10.

CBS’ “JAG” (14.15m) and “Judging Amy” (13.99m) won their hours in overall audience.