Alphabet’s ‘Dancing’ into top spot

ABC football scores big

Some fancy footwork on both the gridiron and dance floor lifted ABC to a convincing primetime ratings victory last week.

It was an embarrassment of riches for the Alphabet, which delivered the biggest averages for any net during any week this season by parlaying the high-rated Bowl Championship Series of college football and an NFL playoff game.

And on the entertainment side, “Dancing with the Stars” opened its second season well (Daily Variety, Jan. 9) and “Desperate Housewives” was the week’s top series in key demos.

Next year, though, ABC won’t be able to count on such an awesome week to start the New Year, as it will not have any postseason primetime football action.

Overall for the Jan. 2-8 frame, ABC cruised in the key adults 18-49 demo with a 6.6 rating/17 share, well ahead of rivals CBS (4.0/10), NBC (3.3/8) and Fox (2.6/7). This was the best delivery for the Alphabet in a non-Super Bowl sesh since the week of celebrity “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” in May 2000.

ABC also won in total viewers, ending CBS’ 15-week winning streak. Excluding Super Bowl weeks, ABC hasn’t had a larger overall aud than last week’s 19.1 million since October 1995.

Leading the way was Wednesday’s Rose Bowl between Texas and USC, which gave fans the matchup and game they wanted to see. Its averages make it the season’s No. 1 primetime telecast (12.8/33 in 18-49, 35.63 million viewers overall) and the most-watched college football game in 19 years.

ABC also was above average with its other Bowl Championship Series games on Monday and Tuesday (Daily Variety, Jan. 6), easily winning each night, and dominated Saturday with its coverage of the NFL wildcard playoff game between New England and Jacksonville (8.6/25 in 18-49, 22.55m).

The two-hour season preem of “Dancing with the Stars” (4.8/12 in 18-49, 17.46m) more than doubled the net’s showing in the time period this season, placing second. And a night later, the results show at 8 (3.0/9 in 18-49, 12.88m) brought some life to the net and helped drama “In Justice” open to solid numbers (2.8/8, 9.2m).

Sunday saw the winning return of the net’s heavyweight skeins “Desperate Housewives” (10.2/23 in 18-49, 23.72m) and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (6.9/16, 17.54m), while a recap edition of “Grey’s Anatomy” closed out the night strong (7.2/17, 16.30m).

At CBS, “CSI” (9.2/22 in 18-49, 27.23m) and “Without a Trace” (6.8/18, 20.93m) led their hours on Thursday. And the net remained on top Friday despite new competish, with “Numbers” the night’s top draw (3.7/11, 13.93m).

Net was also the beneficiary of a huge NFL overrun during the opening 47 minutes of primetime Sunday (11.3/32 in 18-49, 30.17m for the end of the Pittsburgh-Cincinnati playoff game).

Best news at NBC was the nice start for its Thursday comedy block, led by “My Name Is Earl” (5.2/13 in 18-49, 11.19m) and series-best regular-slot scores for “The Office” (4.5/11, 8.73m). Newbie “Four Kings” also looked good in its bow at 8:30 (4.2/11, 8.86m).

On Friday, net did OK with the two-hour preem of drama “Book of Daniel” (2.7/8 in 18-49, 9.02m), although net may have been hoping for more given the controversy surrounding the skein.

And “Scrubs” looked good with its first original episodes since being nominated for outstanding comedy at the Emmys last summer. Back-to-back Tuesday segs averaged a 3.9/9 in 18-49 and about 7.7 million viewers.

Fox did pretty well Sunday with “The Simpsons” (4.9/12 in 18-49, 10.11m) and “Family Guy” (4.2/9, 8.10m) but did little else the rest of the frame. In fact, its second-best night was Saturday, paced by “America’s Most Wanted” (2.5/7, 6.74m).

At the weblets, UPN again got the better of the WB, with Friday’s “WWE Smackdown” (1.8/5 in 18-49, 5.01m) winning its time period in adults 18-34 and other categories and hitting some season highs.

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