CBS stalwarts score; rookies rock for ABC

'Desperate,' 'Lost' pump Alphabet again

“CSI” and the final four hours of “Survivor: Vanuatu” led CBS to another weekly ratings victory in key demos and has helped the net open up a solid advantage over its rivals at the one-third mark of the season.

ABC also had a good week, riding hot first-year dramas “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives” to another sesh of year-to-year growth.

In the Dec. 6-12 frame, CBS easily made it five straight weeks in the key demo of adults 18-49 (4.3 rating/12 share) and eight triumphs in 12 weeks to start the season, winning Monday, Thursday and Sunday and showing improvement Tuesday and Wednesday. Net also cruised as usual in its strongest categories of adults 25-54 (5.2/13) and total viewers (13.1 million), according to Nielsen.

CBS has strengthened its No. 1 position for the season in adults 18-49 (4.18 rating), holding an 8% advantage over ABC (3.87), a 9% edge over NBC (3.83) and a big 17% lead over fourth-place Fox (3.57). CBS and ABC are both up 8% year-to-year.

Repeat performance

The Eye’s competitors have an opportunity to close some ground over the next six weeks as CBS rests “Survivor” and is forced to air mostly repeats of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” which is producing only 16 original episodes in its final season.

Still, its regular sked along with football’s AFC championship game in January and the Grammy Awards in February make CBS the favorite to finish the season in May as No. 1 across the board.

Among all primetime series at the one-third mark of the season, CBS (“CSI,” “CSI: Miami,” “Survivor” and “Without a Trace”) and ABC (“Desperate Housewives,” “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” “Lost” and “Monday Night Football”) both claim four spots among the top 10 in adults 18-49, according to Nielsen.

NBC is repped by a pair of top-10 shows (“ER” at No. 3 and “The Apprentice” at No. 4), and Fox is shut out — with “The Simpsons” at No. 18 its only top-25 performer thus far.

“CSI” ranks No. 1 in 18-49 (10.4/25), adults 25-54 (13.0/28) and total viewers (29 million), while “Desperate Housewives” is on top in persons 12-34 (7.8/21).

Still surviving

Last week, the Eye’s primetime victory was led by Thursday’s “CSI” — the frame’s No. 1 show in both adults 18-49 (10.7/26) and total viewers (29.83 million) — and the special two-hour conclusion of “Survivor: Vanuatu” on Sunday (7.5/16 in 18-49, 19.72m).

Add in Thursday’s regular “Survivor” seg and the reunion show that followed Sunday’s finale and CBS racked up strong numbers with the durable unscripted skein in four hours.

Also for CBS, “The Amazing Race 6” (4.6/12 in 18-49, 11.72m) continues to sprint ahead of the pace of previous years, last week helping lead-out drama “Judging Amy” (3.2/9 in 18-49, 11.48m) to season-high scores.

At ABC, Wednesday’s “Lost” hit series highs (7.0/19 in 18-49, 18.88m), delivering the best demo score for any 8 o’clock drama on any net since Fox’s series finale of “Beverly Hills 90210” in May 2000. Also on the night, annual spec “Barbara Walters’ 10 Most Fascinating People” (5.4/14 in 18-49, 16.33m) grabbed its best demo delivery in five years and 10 o’clock reality skein “Wife Swap” (4.6/12 in 18-49, 11.51m) hit a high in 18-34 (4.8/15).

Tuesday’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” had its best perf since moving over to ABC a few years ago (4.8/13 in 18-49, 13.58m); Friday’s “20/20” had its best showing yet with Elizabeth Vargas as co-host (3.1/10, 9.86m); and Sunday’s “Desperate Housewives” (9.2/20 in 18-49, 21.56m) won its tough hour over the “Survivor: Vanuatu” finale on CBS.

‘House’ calls

NBC was paced by Thursday’s “ER” (8.5/22 in 18-49, 18.21m) and “The Apprentice 2” (7.6/18, 15.99m), although the same night’s comedies “Joey” (4.0/11, 10.20m) and “Will & Grace” (4.3/11, 10.14m) slipped.

Peacock also led Tuesday in 18-49 behind “Law & Order: SVU” (5.5/15 in 18-49, 13.50m), and Wednesday’s “Law & Order” (5.0/13 in 18-49, 15.69m) had its best numbers since premiere week.

Fox was encouraged by rising ratings for new Tuesday drama “House” (2.7/7 in 18-49, 6.74m) and also got a boost from the return on Friday of “Family Guy,” which led its 9 o’clock slot in under-50 demos with a repeat.

On the other hand, net got more weak numbers for can’t end-soon-enough reality skeins “Rebel Billionaire” on Tuesday (1.7/4 in 18-49, 3.71m) and “My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss” on Sunday (1.6/3, 3.43m).

UPN moved ahead of the WB in most categories, getting a nice showing from the penultimate episode of “America’s Next Top Model 3” (2.5/7 in 18-49, 5.20m). Frog highlights included a solid start for the new “High School Reunion” on Tuesday (1.6/4 in 18-49, 3.30m) and a strong Friday led by the best results in several years for “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (2.0/7 in 18-49, 4.79m) and “A Scooby Doo Christmas” (1.8/6, 5.18m).

Over on cable, it was a good week for a pair of original movies: ESPN’s Dale Earnhardt biopic “3” on Saturday (3.1/10 in 18-49, 7.25m) and ABC Family’s “Snow” on Sunday (1.2/3, 4.01m).

“3” topped all networks in 18-49 — broadcast and cable — in its 9-11 p.m. slot, becoming the fall’s top-rated original cable pic in the demo and the best ever on ESPN. And “Snow,” starring Tom Cavanagh, was the net’s highest-rated telepic in more than a year in 18-49 and in more than two years in total viewers.

On Monday this week, the Sci Fi Channel did well with the opening night of two-part movie “Legend of Earthsea” (1.3/3 in 18-49, 3.43m) — the net’s top-rated pic of the year.

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