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Dramatic boost for ABC, CBS

'Housewives' 'Lost' power ABC to victory in 18-49

ABC and CBS remain the young television season’s top-rated networks after dominating last week’s ratings race with their heavyweight dramas.

As baseball began to eat up more of Fox’s sked, the Alphabet and Eye nets claimed the week’s top six programs among young adults and finished neck-and-neck in the key demo races. NBC remains third and Fox fourth, with the WB moving ahead of UPN in the weblet wars.

“Desperate Housewives,” “Lost” and “Grey’s Anatomy” powered ABC to its third straight victory in adults 18-49 while “CSI,” “CSI: Miami” and “Without a Trace” — three of 14 hours of crime programming on the Eye last week — lifted that net to victories in both adults 25-54 and total viewers.

Overall, according to Nielsen estimates for the Oct. 3-9 frame, ABC led in adults 18-49 with a 4.1 rating/11 share, followed by CBS (3.9/10), NBC (3.4/9) and Fox (3.1/9).

Cabler ESPN had a great week, using postseason baseball and weekend football action to move into fifth place in adults 18-49 (1.7/5) — besting both the WB (1.6/4) and UPN (1.3/4).

CBS led the way in adults 25-54 (5.0/12) and total viewers (12.8 million), while ABC ruled among the 12-34 crowd (2.9/9).

Once again, ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” was the week’s top show in 18-49 (11.1/24) and CBS vet “CSI” was the most-watched program overall (28.85 million) while ranking second in 18-49 (9.8/24).

Also for ABC, “Grey’s Anatomy” was impressive on Sunday (8.0/19 in 18-49, 18.12m), retaining a season-best 72% of its “DH” 18-49 lead-in. “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” also contributed nicely on Sunday (6.3/15, 15.31m), “George Lopez” opened its season a winner on Wednesday (3.5/10, 9.13m) and “Commander in Chief” grew in its second week (4.8/12, 16.94m).

Hours that could use some work for ABC are Thursday at 10 (“Primetime” ran fourth in key demos) and Friday at 8, where “Supernanny” isn’t getting the night off to a very good start. Also, drama “Invasion” (4.4/11, 11.38m) has slid after a promising debut but remains competitive in its Wednesday hour.

New 9:30 Friday laffer “Hot Properties” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 6.05m) built slightly on its “Hope & Faith” lead-in, while lead-out “20/20” (3.0/9, 8.54m) was the week’s No. 1 newsmag in adults 25-54 (3.6/10).

At CBS, “Without a Trace” (6.8/17 in 18-49, 21.25m) beat an original episode of NBC’s “ER” (6.3/16, 14.15m) across the board for the first time (Daily Variety, Oct. 10), and new drama “Ghost Whisperer” (3.0/10, 11.07m) has become Friday’s hottest show.

New dramas “Criminal Minds” on Wednesday (3.3/8, 11.98m) and “Threshold” on Friday (2.4/7, 8.25m) also contributed for CBS, and Tuesday’s “Close to Home” was so-so in its series premiere (3.3/8, 10.43m).

Original Sunday movie “The Hunt for the BTK Killer” (2.3/5 in 18-49, 8.04m) was a drag on the net’s overall average, especially coming out of a hot “Cold Case” (4.0/10, 15.88m).

NBC’s highlights included another strong outing from Tuesday rookie “My Name Is Earl” (6.0/15 in 18-49, 13.23m), the week’s No. 1 comedy in 18-49 for a third straight week.

“Las Vegas” also looks solid on Monday (4.8/11, 13.64m), and the net saw some much-needed improvement Wednesday with a timeslot switch for “E-Ring” and Martha Stewart’s “The Apprentice” (Daily Variety, Oct. 7).

At Fox, “Prison Break” was strong on Monday (4.5/11 in 18-49, 9.48m), and a football overrun and Game 4 of the Yankees-Angels baseball series (4.5/11 in 18-49, 12.56m) kept the net second to ABC on Sunday.

With both their entire lineups intact for the first time, the WB topped UPN in adults 18-34 (1.7/5 to 1.5/5), with the Frog down 11% vs. the same week a year ago and UPN flat.

“Smallville,” “Gilmore Girls,” “7th Heaven” and the new “Supernatural” were standouts for the WB, while “America’s Next Top Model” and “Everybody Hates Chris” propelled UPN. Latter net is really struggling Tuesday at 9 with sudser “Sex, Love & Secrets” (0.6/1 in 18-49, 1.40m).

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