Kudos help Eye squeak past ABC

A streaking CBS held off a feisty ABC once again last week as the season’s top-rated nets prepare for a tight race heading into the final week of November sweeps.

The Eye, with its balanced sked getting an additional boost from Tuesday’s “CMA Awards” and a football overrun Sunday, prevailed in adults 18-49 (4.6 rating/12 share) for the week ended Sunday, marking its sixth consecutive victory in the industry’s most closely watched Nielsen category.

ABC was a close second (4.4/12), followed by NBC (3.3/9) and Fox (3.0/8), with the Peacock the only net down vs. the same frame a year ago.

CBS led last week as well in adults 25-54 (5.7/12) for a seventh straight week and is now a perfect nine for nine this season in total viewers (15.2 million), according to Nielsen estimates.

Sked situation down the stretch favors ABC for a possible rally to win the 18-49 title over CBS, which took the crown a year ago. Eye is expected to win in 25-54 as well as total viewers.

Through Monday (19 of 28 days in the November sweep), CBS led with a 4.5 rating/12 share in adults 18-49 (down 2% in rating from a year ago), followed by ABC (4.3/11, up 10%), NBC (3.2/9, down 22%) and Fox (3.0/8, even).

Of note at the netlets is a rising UPN moving ahead of a declining WB in adults 18-34 (1.7/5 to 1.5/5 through Sunday) — a reversal of their year-ago standing.

Overall for the week, ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” ruled once again as the top show in 18-49 (11.0/24), with CBS drama “CSI” ranking No. 2 in the demo (9.9/24) but No. 1 in total viewers (28.98 million).

The Eye was again steady throughout the frame, winning Tuesday, Thursday and Friday in 18-49 and placing second on Monday, Wednesday and Sunday.

“Without a Trace,” “Survivor: Guatemala” and “CSI: Miami” joined “CSI” in the weekly top 10 in 18-49, and the net won Tuesday with the “Country Music Assn. Awards” (5.4/13 in 18-49, 17.73m). Also, “Close to Home” again looked good on Friday (slot-leading 3.2/10 in 18-49, 11.64m).

CBS’ Sunday, which benefited from a lengthy football overrun, saw “60 Minutes” (4.3/11 in 18-49, 18.13m) notch its best 25-54 score since January (5.5/12), and “Cold Case” (4.0/9, 17.08m) remained strong despite opposing “Desperate Housewives” in much of the country.

ABC, the only broadcaster up year to year in 18-49, claimed four of the week’s top five spots in the demo, with “Housewives” joined by “Grey’s Anatomy” at No. 3 (9.3/22, 20.33m), “Lost” at No. 4 (9.2/22, 21.87m) and another strong outing for “Monday Night Football” at No. 5 (7.1/18, 18.52m for Dallas Cowboys-Philadelphia Eagles).

For “Grey’s,” its Sunday perf repped a season high, as well as its best retention to date of its “Housewives” lead-in — 85% in 18-49, 91% in 18-34.

ABC also was above average Saturday with a repeat of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” (2.7/8 in 18-49, 7.73m), timed to coincide with the franchise’s latest entry hitting theaters. Its rookie Wednesday laffer “Freddie” led its slot in 18-49 (3.6/9) for a sixth straight time, posting the show’s best score since its preem.

NBC’s highlights include Tuesday’s “Biggest Loser 2″ (4.1/11 in 18-49, 10.37m), which logged 10-month timeslot highs; the same night’s “My Name Is Earl” (5.2/12 in 18-49, 11.51m) was the week’s No. 1 comedy in 18-49; and Wednesday’s rookie drama “E-Ring” established highs (2.9/8, 9.72m).

Although the Peacock is way down vs. a year ago on Thursday, it seems to be stabilizing at 8 with “Joey,” which hit a season high (second-place 3.2/9 in 18-49, 8.02m).

And “ER” is looking good at 10 (season-high 6.9/18 in 18-49, 15.30m), winning its hour in 18-49 by building 44% on its “Apprentice 4″ lead-in.

Net didn’t do a lot with its critically lambasted “Poseidon Adventure” on Friday (3.1/7, 9.57m).

Fox wasn’t the 18-49 winner in many timeslots during the week but was solid in hours on various nights, including Monday’s “Prison Break” (4.1/10 in 18-49, 9.58m), Tuesday’s “House” (4.9/11, 12.95m) and Sunday’s “The Simpsons” (4.9/12, 10.31m) and “Family Guy” (4.5/10, 9.08m).

UPN was above average thanks to Tuesday’s “Vibe Awards” (1.9/5 in 18-49, 4.49m) and more good returns from Wednesday’s “America’s Next Top Model” (2.6/7, 5.53m), which won its hour in 18-34 (3.3/10), and Thursday’s “Everybody Hates Chris” (2.1/6, 5.42m), which had one of its best showings in a while.

Friday’s “WWE Smackdown” (1.7/6 in 18-49, 4.85m) hit season highs and was the No. 1 program on television in persons 12-34 (2.1/8) from 8 to 10 with an episode that paid tribute to recently deceased grappler Eddie Guerrero.

The WB saw many of its show pick up week to week, with the net led again by Thursday’s “Smallville” (2.6/7 in 18-49, 5.97m), Tuesday’s “Gilmore Girls” (2.7/7, 6.19m) and Monday’s “7th Heaven” (2.1/6, 5.81m).

On the cable side, ESPN once again led the primetime ratings race, although its “Sunday Night Football” was below average for its Kansas City Chiefs-Houston Texans matchup (2.9/7 in 18-49, 6.81m).

Regional sports cabler Fox Sports Net attracted its largest-ever audience for a national telecast Saturday night (2.8 million) with No. 1 USC’s wild 50-42 college football victory over No. 16 Fresno State.

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