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ABC Rules the Night

ABC easily won the key adult demos as well as households and viewers last night, a victory driven by the one-hour special episode of 8 Simple Rules that dealt with the sudden death of the lead character played by John Ritter. Ritter died unexpectedly just before the start of the new fall season.

The show averaged 20.6 million viewers from 8 to 9 p.m. Rules doubled its household time period rating versus last week and was up 60% from a year ago when Rules and According to Jim aired from 8 to 9 p.m. Both of the comedies that followed Rules Tuesday night got a boost–Jim was up 36% versus a week ago and Less Than Perfect was up 17%.

NBC was second in the demos and third in households with a 90-minute FearFactor, Frasier and Law & Order: SVU. CBS was second in households and viewers and third in the demos with Navy NCIS, The Guardian and Judging Amy. Fox was fourth across most of the key categories with back-to-back 24 episodes (the first a repeat).

The WB was fifth with Gilmore Girls and One Tree Hill and UPN was sixth with Oneon One, All of Us, Rock Me Baby and a Girlfriends repeat.

For the night, the Nielsen fast affiliate viewer averages: ABC, 14.9 million; CBS, 12.6 million; NBC, 11.7 million; Fox, 6.3 million; WB, 4.5 million; UPN, 3.2 million. Adults 18-49: ABC, 5.8 rating/15 share; NBC, 5.0/13; CBS, 2.9/7; Fox, 2.8/7; WB, 1.6/4; UPN, 1.2/3.