Soph series heats up Sunday

“The West Wing” and “Malcolm in the Middle” saw nice upticks for their series finales Sunday, but ABC remained in control. CBS also had a say in the ratings race with its conclusion to the latest edition of “Survivor.”

The third of the May sweep’s four Sundays saw the Alphabet’s “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Desperate Housewives” rule among young adults, although it’s clear the medical drama is the hotter show, building on a new seg of the sudser by a record margin.

According to prelim nationals from Nielsen, “Grey’s” averaged a big 9.6 rating/22 share in adults 18-49 and 22.3 million viewers overall in the 10 o’clock hour, rising 19% in the demo over “Housewives” (8.1/18 in 18-49, 20.8 million). Through three sweeps weeks, “Grey’s” is up 18% in 18-49 vs. a year ago (9.7 vs. 8.2) even though its lead-in is off 25% (8.5 vs. 11.3).

“Housewives” has lost some of the buzz and audience it attracted during its phenomenal frosh season, but it remains a top-five show. And it hasn’t gotten as much support from its lead-in, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” which itself is down 23% vs. last May (4.9 vs. 6.4).

On Sunday, “Home Edition” (prelim 4.2/11, 11 million) faced tougher-than-usual competish from “Survivor” and the series finales, ranking second for its hour.

At CBS, the finale of “Survivor: Exile Island” (8-10:15 p.m.) is expected to come in at about a 6.2/15 in 18-49 and more than 17 million viewers overall. It won the 8 p.m. hour in 18-49 and placed second at 9, and led in both adults 25-54 (7.3/16) and total viewers from 8 to 10.

This is the lowest rated of the 12 “Survivor” finales to date, though, coming in well below the previous low in December 2004 for the “Vanuatu” edition (7.5/16 in 18-49, 19.7 million).

A roughly 45-minute “Exile Island” reunion (10:15-11 p.m.) should average about a second-place 4.5/11 in 18-49 and 11.5 million viewers overall.

As for the series finales, “West Wing” remained fourth in demos at 8 o’clock (prelim 2.8/7 in 18-49, 9.9 million) but was up 20% week-to-week for its best score of the season.

And “Malcolm” (prelim 3.4/9 in 18-49, 7.5 million) had its best rating since December 2004. After airing in the low-visibility 7 o’clock slot this season (netting a mere 1.3 demo rating in its last outing three weeks ago), its finale shot up thanks in part to a return to its old 8:30 slot behind “The Simpsons” (prelim 3.9/11 in 18-49, 8.3 million).

A third Sunday vet in the 8 o’clock hour, the WB’s “Charmed,” wraps next week. Its penultimate seg settled for a 1.5/4 in 18-49 and 3.4 million viewers overall, according to prelims.

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