ABC, Fox Take Tuesday In Season's Second Night

There is a changing of the guard at the networks. ABC barely won Tuesday night--the second night of the season--over Fox, with NBC in third, and surprisingly, CBS coming in fourth.

A special 8 p.m.-10 p.m. "Dancing with the Stars" pulled down a healthy 5.2 rating/14 share for ABC, outdistancing its competitors by some 5.6 million viewers. The show grabbed 18.2 million viewers. Overall, the network averaged a 4.6 rating/12 share for the night and 16.0 million viewers--tops in both categories. Fox had the same 4.6/12 among 18-49 viewers, but registered slightly lower in total viewers than ABC.

Compared to the same night last year, ABC was up 70 percent in adults 18-49 and 6.9 million viewers higher. It was the network's strongest season-opening Tuesday in six years.

Although ABC's "Stars" was strong, it couldn't handle Fox's "House" in the 8 o'clock hour. "House" grabbed a 5.8 rating, outdistancing ABC's "Stars" by almost a rating point and a half. Once out of "House" way, "Stars" peaked with a 5.9 rating and more than 20 million viewers for its second hour.

After its surprising Monday night win--the opening of the new season--NBC came in a respectable third place with a 4.1/11 among viewers 18-49, thanks to another night of "Deal or No Deal" and a double hit of its lucrative "Law & Order" franchise: first "L&O: Criminal Intent" and then "L&O: Special Victims Unit." The later show posted a healthy 5.1 rating among 18-49s.

ABC's "Boston Legal" in its new 10 p.m. Tuesday time slot placed second to NBC's premiere of "Law & Order: SVU" and ahead of CBS' new "Smith" drama. ABC says "Boston Legal" was up over its year-ago season premiere by 3 percent for 18-49s and by 14 percent for 18-34s.

Way off the pace, CBS landed in surprising fourth place for the night. Although good enough for a new show, CBS' "Smith," with 3.5 solid rating among 18-49 viewers, couldn't stand up to 5-plus ratings that "Stars" or "SVU" earned. Overall, CBS had a 3.4 rating among viewers 18-49 for the night. And in a very un-CBS manner, the network came in third among households and total viewers--areas in which it usually scores top numbers on any given prime-time night.

Pulling up the rear, Univision took in a 1.7/4 among 18-49s for Tuesday. The CW earned a 0.6/2 for its second night on the airwaves--a schedule that, for the most part, has last season reruns. The network's real official launch won't occur until tonight, when its "America's Next Top Model" launches.

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