ABC's 'Big Give' gets big love in Sun. debut

4:00 AM PST 03/04/2008 by James Hibberd, AP

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Oprah gave big to ABC on Sunday night as the premiere of her new reality show triumphed in the Nielsen ratings.

Critics may have been less than kind, but the debut of the talk show host's philanthropic reality effort "Oprah's Big Give" was the highest-rated program of the night, according to preliminary returns. Plus, the "Big Give" audience spilled over into the under-the-radar debut of another ABC unscripted title, "Here Come the Newlyweds," helping ABC win the night among key measures.

ABC opened with "America's Funniest Home Videos" (8.2 million total viewers, 2.7 rating among adults 18-49 and an 8 share) then "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (14.8 million, 5.1/13), "Big Give" (15.6 million, 5.3/12) and "Newlyweds" (10.3 million, 4.1/11). From 8-11 p.m., ABC won every hour, with "Big Give" becoming third-most-watched freshman series debut this season (followed by Fox's "Moment of Truth" and "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles").

In second place, Fox's ratings are very preliminary because "NASCAR: Spring Cup" (12.5 million, 4.7/13) pushed the start times of Fox's comedies to about 8:30 p.m. "NASCAR" was followed by "The Simpsons" (7.9 million, 3.8/9), "King of the Hill" (7.7 million, 4.1/10), "Family Guy" (7.1 million, 3.7/9) and the debut of "Unhitched" (N/A, 2.5/6).

CBS was third with "60 Minutes" (12.1 million, 2.1/6), "Big Brother" (6.2 million, 2.3/6), a repeat of "Cold Case" (7.4 million, 1.9/5) and "Dexter" (6.9 million, 2.0/5).

Fourth-place NBC had a two-hour "Dateline" (7.4 million, 5.9 1.9/5), "Deal or No Deal" (8.7 million, 2.3/5) and the time-period premiere of "Law & Order: SVU" (8.1 million, 2.1/6).

The CW aired a mix of comedies and repeats (averaging 1.3 million, 0.5/1).
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