CBS’ Eye-catching week

Gridiron moves net into winners' circle

CBS swept the frame in key ratings categories last week, riding hit vets and solid rookies to its first victory of the season in young adults.

The first month of the season has been a tight battle between CBS and a rising ABC in adults 18-49, with a Sunday football overrun playing a big part in moving the Eye to the head of the class last week, according to Nielsen.

After ABC had won the first three weeks of the season in the industry’s most-watched ratings category, CBS was on top in 18-49 during the week ended Sunday with a 4.2 rating/11 share, edging past ABC’s 4.1/11. NBC (3.4/9) eked past Fox (3.3/9), with UPN and the WB tied for fifth (1.6/4).

CBS won for the second time this season in adults 25-54 (5.3/13) and remained a perfect four-for-four in total viewers (13.4 million), while ABC prevailed in persons 12-34 (2.9/10).

Both the Alphabet and the Eye were up vs. the same week a year ago, but Fox couldn’t keep up with its hot pace of a year ago with the Yankees-Red Sox postseason series. The aging Peacock was down a modest 5% year to year in total viewers but tumbled 15% in 18-49 vs. the same week of a year ago (3.4 vs. 4.0) and an even more alarming 27% among those 12-34 (2.2 vs. 3.0).

ABC and CBS again dominated the upper half of the program rankings, combining for nine of the week’s top 10 shows in 18-49 (NBC’s “ER” was the exception) and the top 14 programs in total viewers.

ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” (11.4/25 in 18-49, 25.78m) was the top-rated show in 18-49 for a fourth straight week, while CBS’ “CSI” (10.0/25, 28.34m) ranked No. 2 in the demo and No. 1 in total viewers, also for the fourth week in a row.

The Eye’s “CSI,” “CSI: Miami” (6.2/15 in 18-49, 18.49m) and “CSI: NY” (5.3/14, 15.22m) all led their timeslots, with the latter getting a boost from solid rookie “Criminal Minds” (4.2/10, 13.76m).

Also for CBS, “NCIS” won its Tuesday hour (4.1/11, 16.78m), “Survivor” and “Without a Trace” prevailed on Thursday and Saturday’s “48 Hours” posted its best scores since January (2.6/8, 8.77m).

Rookie “Ghost Whisperer” (2.3/8 in 18-49, 9.90m) took a dip in its fourth outing, although it still tied ABC’s “Supernanny” for the Friday-at-8 lead in 18-49 and remained on top in both adults 25-54 and total viewers.

ABC was powered by its Sunday trio of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (6.8/17 in 18-49, 16.15m), “Desperate Housewives” (11.4/25, 25.78m) and “Grey’s Anatomy” (8.4/20, 18.28m) — all up week to week and ranking in the top five in 18-49.

Wednesday’s “Lost” (9.4/22, 21.66m) also remained red-hot, while “Invasion” grew (4.8/12, 11.58m) and new comedy “Freddie” (4.2/11, 9.38m) built by 1 share on its “George Lopez” lead-in (3.4/10, 8.75m). “Commander in Chief” still looks good on Tuesday (4.7/11 in 18-49, 16.23m).

NBC was paced by veteran drama “ER” (6.1/16 in 18-49, 13.61m) and hot new comedy “My Name Is Earl” (5.5/13, 12.62m). Also, “The Biggest Loser 2” (3.6/10, 8.44m) hit a timeslot season high on Tuesday, and the Lowe’s 500 NASCAR race (2.8/9 in 18-49, 7.94m) delivered the highest Saturday 18-49 rating for any net this season.

Baseball connects

Baseball-heavy Fox’s highlight of the week was Monday’s deciding Game 5 of the American League Divisional Series between the Los Angeles Angels and New York Yankees (4.9/12 in 18-49, 13.70m), which delivered the early round’s best scores in two years. Through Sunday, the net’s postseason baseball was averaging a 3.4/9 in 18-49, down 15% from last year’s 4.0/11.

UPN and the WB tied in 18-34 (1.7/5), with the former up a tick vs. a year ago and the latter down a tick.

UPN’s Thursday comedy “Everybody Hates Chris” (2.5/7 in 18-49, 6.33m) posted best-since-premiere numbers, and Wednesday’s “America’s Next Top Model” hit season highs (2.7/8, 5.47m). Also, “Smackdown” posted its best Friday ratings to date (1.5/5 in 18-49, 3.95m).

At the WB, Tuesday’s “Gilmore Girls” (2.7/7, 6.16m) and “Supernatural” (2.4/6, 5.50m) remain strong, and “Everwood” (1.7/4 in 18-49, 4.14m) delivered its best numbers since moving to Thursday.

In an overall slow week at the ad-supported cable nets, USA led the way in 18-49 (0.9/2), 25-54 (1.0/2) and total viewers (2.49m), and FX’s “Nip/Tuck” remained the top entertainment series (1.8/5 in 18-49, 3.42m).

Disney Channel bagged 7 million viewers for the Halloween-themed mystery/adventure movie “Twitches” on Friday night (including 2.9 million kids 6-11), making it the week’s most-watched program on cable. Subsequent airings in primetime on Saturday and Sunday drew about 5 million viewers apiece, lifting the net to its top-rated week on record among girls 6-11.

And ESPN’s late-Saturday special rematch between the champ and runner-up of boxing skein “The Contender” averaged a solid 1.2 million adults 18-49, becoming the most-watched boxing match on the net in eight years.

On Monday of the current week, CBS comedies “How I Met Your Mother” (3.9/10 in 18-49, 10.14m), “Two and a Half Men” (5.5/13,15.56m) and “Out of Practice” (4.3/10, 12.25m) each matched or set season highs, and the net’s “CSI: Miami” was the night’s top-rated show (6.2/15, 17.91m).

ABC’s “Monday Night Football” (5.8/15, 14.45m) bested Fox’s Game 5 of baseball’s National League Championship Series (3.6/9, 11.61m), but Fox has to be happy the Cards-Astros series has been extended to a sixth game today.

NBC’s “Surface” (3.0/8 in 18-49, 9.56m) was down week to week but is still doing credible numbers. Net fared better from 9 to 11 with “Las Vegas” (4.5/11, 12.64m) and “Medium” (4.7/11, 11.94m).

ABC, getting a boost from “Wife Swap” at 8 (second-place 3.1/9 in 18-49, 7.86m), tied CBS for the night’s 18-49 lead, while the Eye led in 25-54 and total viewers. This makes it seven straight Monday victories in 18-49 for ABC, its best showing in six years.

And on cable Monday, Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” averaged 1.13 million viewers in its debut, virtually matching the audience size of lead-in “The Daily Show.”

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