Big Four nets share spotlight on Sunday

ABC, Fox tie for 18-49 demo lead

On a rare Sunday that saw each of the major nets with something to smile about, NBC’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” Fox’s “Malcolm in the Middle” and ABC’s “Alias” all delivered solid performances.

And auds still love “Lucy,” as the CBS biopic of Lucille Ball performed pretty well and helped the net lead the night in total viewers.

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, ABC — buoyed by the two-hour season finale of “Alias” (4.7/12 in adults 18-49) — tied with Fox for the night’s 18-49 lead (4.1/11). The Murdoch net’s “Malcolm” led in the demo at 9 (5.2/13) despite tough competish from the other nets — “Law & Order: CI” (4.8/12), “Alias” (4.3/10) and “Lucy” (3.7/9).

At ABC, “Alias” ran second to NBC in 18-49 each half-hour, with its score in the 10 o’clock hour (4.9/13) slightly below its year-ago season finale (5.1/12). It won the hour in teens, adults 18-34 (tied with NBC) and key male demos.

The Alphabet did pretty well from 8 to 9 with spec “Tim Allen’s Guide to Home Improvement” (second-place 4.1/11 in A18-49, 11.5 million viewers overall), and led the 7 o’clock hour in 18-49 (2.8/10) with “ESPN’s Blunderful World of Sports” bloopers spec.

Fox led in 18-49 from 8 to 9:30 behind an original “Simpsons” (4.8/14 in A18-49, 11.2m), a repeat “Simpsons” (5.2/14 in A18-49, 12.2m) and an original “Malcolm in the Middle” (5.2/13 in A18-49, 12.0m) that impressively retained all of its lead-in. At 9:30, “Oliver Beene” fell to third in 18-49 (4.0/10).

NBC led at 9 with an original “Law & Order: CI” (5.1/12 in A18-49, 14.2m) and did even better at 10 with a repeat of the second-year drama, which was the No. 1 program of the night in both 18-49 (5.3/14) and total viewers (14.6m). At 8, “American Dreams” ran third in 18-49 (3.3/9).

NBC, just two ticks out of the 18-49 lead on the night (3.9/11), finished on top in 25-54 (4.7/12).

The three-hour “Lucy” pic on CBS averaged a 3.6/10 in adults 18-49 and 13.2 million viewers overall — a roughly 20% improvement in the demo on the net’s soft movie average this season. Although the Eye won the night in total viewers (12.8 million), it ran fourth in 18-49 and third in 25-54.

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