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Sports powers Fox on Sunday

Morning Ratings Flash - Rick Kissell

The combination of an NFL overrun and the deciding fifth game of the baseball playoff series between the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves propelled Fox to its highest rated night since May and a dominant victory in all key measures.

Although reliable preliminary nationals from Nielsen are somewhat murky for Fox due to live sports, the final half-hour of National Football League action in primetime’s opening half-hour (Redskins-Eagles) averaged roughly a 7.1 rating in adults 18-49, and the baseball game averaged about a 5.5 rating among adults 18-49. In metered-market overnights, the baseball game’s 12.0 rating/18 share is the highest for a Division Series contest since 1995.

Overall, the prelim 5.8 rating in 18-49 for Fox on Sunday is its best on any night since the finale of “American Idol 2” in May.

ABC seemed to benefit by Fox’s airing of baseball, as new 8 o’clock cop drama “10-8” (3.4/9 in adults 18-49, 9.3 million viewers overall) became the only first-year program of the fall season to improve its rating in its second outing, leading its drama-heavy hour in 18-49. “Alias” (4.3/10 in 18-49) ran third from 9 to 10 and “The Practice” (3.9/10 in 18-49) was the top non-sports choice at 10 in key demos.

CBS drama “Cold Case” (3.2/8 in adults 18-49, 13.7 million viewers overall) was down only slightly from its premiere of a week earlier, building on its lead-in from “60 Minutes” (2.2/7 in adults 18-49, 12 million viewers overall) by roughly 30% in 18-49. From 9 to 11, Mary Tyler Moore pic “Blessings” (2.9/7 in adults 18-49, 11.8 million viewers overall) lagged its rivals in all key categories.

NBC took a big hit from 7 to 9, as a “Dateline” report on the California gubernatorial election bombed with viewers (1.5/5 in adults 18-49) and drama “American Dreams” (2.6/7) couldn’t recover at 8, falling to fourth. Peacock did better from 9 to 10 with “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (slot-leading 4.6/10 in adults 18-49, 14.2 million viewers overall), but then fell off some with week two of legal drama “The Lyon’s Den” (3.4/8 in adults 18-49, 10.6 million viewers overall).

Note that ratings for shows on both ABC and NBC from 8 to 11 are likely to come down a tick or two in key demos, as their nets’ performance in the fast-affiliate ratings included coverage of an NFL game on the ABC station in Pittsburgh and the NBC station in Cleveland.

Prelim 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 5.8/15; ABC, 3.5/9; NBC, 3.0/8; CBS, 2.8/7.

In total viewers: Fox’s 14.7 million viewers topped CBS with 12.3 million.

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