Swinging for fences

Fox fields victory with baseball playoffs

Fox hit six out of the park last week — including grand slams Wednesday and Thursday — to record one of the most dominant victories for any net this year.

As baseball was enjoying a renaissance on Fox, ratings for the competing nets remained down vs. the same frame a year ago. The Murdoch net’s year-to-year gain of 77% in adults 18-49 (7.9/20 from 3.9/11), for example, coincided with drops of 10% or more at each of the other broadcasters, according to Nielsen estimates for the week of Oct. 13-19.

The deciding seventh games of Major League Baseball’s championship series scored huge numbers Wednesday (10.1/27 in adults 18-49, 27.48 million viewers overall for Florida Marlins-Chicago Cubs) and Thursday (10.7/29, 26.5 million for Boston Red Sox-New York Yankees) — the best showing for this round in 12 years.

Anticipating the big ratings, NBC and CBS made last-minute switches to repeats of key shows including “Law & Order,” “ER” and “CSI.” This made baseball look even stronger in the weekly rankings, with Fox’s games accounting for six of the week’s top 10 spots in 18-49 and total viewers.

The World Series also is off to a solid start through two games, up 12% vs. last year’s sluggish delivery in 18-49 despite the rather anticlimactic Marlins-Yankees matchup.

Adult influence

The baseball bounty has enabled Fox to assume the season-to-date lead through four weeks over second-place NBC in adults 18-49 (4.7/13 vs. 4.3/12), adults 25-54 (5.1/13 vs. 4.9/12) and adults 18-34 (4.2/14 vs. 3.7/12). This marks the first time in Fox’s 17-year history that it is the outright in-season leader in the key 18-49 demo.

Among entertainment programs, the CBS Thursday combo of a repeat “CSI” (7.6/18 in A18-49, 21.61m) and an original “Survivor” (7.4/20, 19.35m) finished on top for the week. Original segs of Monday’s “CSI: Miami” and “Everybody Loves Raymond” also made the top 10 in adults 18-49, as did NBC’s repeat of “Friends.”

NBC was a distant runner-up to Fox last week in adults 18-49 (3.6/10), but only slightly ahead of CBS (3.4/9) and ABC (3.3/9).

Highlights include best-since-premiere numbers for Tuesday’s “Whoopi” (4.0/12 in adults 18-49, 10.56m), which topped a repeat of ABC’s “8 Simple Rules”; Tuesday’s “Law & Order: SVU,” which again thumped ABC’s “NYPD Blue” and CBS’ “Judging Amy”; and Monday’s “Fear Factor,” which continues to perform ahead of last year’s pace.

Also, first-year Friday dramedy “Miss Match” was up slightly in its new 9 o’clock timeslot, placing second among young adults.

Eye high on ‘Joan’

At CBS, which was second to Fox last week in 25-54, Friday’s “Joan of Arcadia” led its hour among 25-54 and total viewers for a fourth straight week

ABC continues to do well with comedies. New 8:30 laffers “It’s All Relative” on Wednesday (4.2/11 in 18-49) and “Married to the Kellys” on Friday (2.9/10) retained most or all of their lead-in aud in week three, and the rest of the net’s Friday comedy block is clicking, led by 9 o’clock anchor “Hope & Faith,” whose 3.6/11 in 18-49 led the night once again.

Among new dramas, net’s “Karen Sisco” and “Threat Matrix” could do better but are not disasters, and Sunday’s “10-8” remains competitive.

The WB remains down vs. last season, but seems to be picking up a little momentum after a sluggish start: “Everwood,” “Gilmore Girls,” “One Tree Hill” and “Reba” all hit in-season highs last week in adults 18-34. Sunday’s “Charmed” also is excelling, although it isn’t helping “Tarzan,” which has yet to roar in the ratings.

UPN, dragged down by weaker wrestling numbers Thursday, is looking bad in year-to-year comparisons but is performing well Monday, which is up year-to-year, and decently Tuesday, where “One on One” and “All of Us” are finding an aud.

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