Football, 'Heroes' still strong

With ABC’s top shows on the bench or in repeats last week, NBC and CBS dominated the primetime program rankings.

The Peacock and Eye nets each claimed five of the week’s top 12 programs in the adults 18-49 demo, with Fox and ABC settling for just one show apiece among the top dozen.

NBC captured the frame in the prized 18-49 category for a second straight week, according to Nielsen, with its “Sunday Night Football” matchup between the New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys on top (8.0 rating/20 share).

The Peacock’s 3.8 rating/10 share in 18-49 bested a competitive CBS (3.5/10) and easily topped both ABC (2.9/8) and Fox (2.4/7).

Again exhibiting a good balance, NBC tied CBS for the lead in adults 25-54 (4.3/11) and led the frame in the 12-34 (2.9/9) demo. CBS cruised in overall total viewers (11.7 million) for the 12th straight sesh.

At roughly the one-third mark of the season, ABC (4.0 rating/11 share) enjoys a slim advantage in the 18-49 race over CBS (3.9/10) and NBC (3.8/10), with the Peacock the only broadcaster to improve over its average of last season, rising a healthy 15%.

Fox is a distant fourth, declining 6% vs. the first 12 weeks of last season and again counting on a big second-half rally to finish competitively.

In other categories, CBS has the edge in 25-54 over runner-up ABC (4.9 to 4.6), while ABC is ahead of second-place NBC in the 12-34 demo (2.9 to 2.7). It’s no contest in total viewers, where CBS (12.9 million) easily tops No. 2 ABC (11.5 million).

Newbie net the CW is now at a 1.7 rating in its target adults 18-34 demo, putting it 13% ahead of the WB at the same time last season (1.5).

Top programs in adults 18-49 are ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Desperate Housewives,” CBS’ “CSI,” ABC’s “Lost” and NBC’s rookie dynamo “Heroes.” In total viewers, it’s “CSI” followed by “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Desperate Housewives” and ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”

Looking at the week of Dec. 4-10, NBC’s 18-49 average was boosted by the third best score of the season for “Sunday Night Football” (New Orleans-Dallas) as well as a big fall finish for “Heroes” (6.5/15, 14.94m), the week’s No. 3 program in 18-49.

Also chipping in were season highs from “The Biggest Loser” (4.0/11, 9.37m) and “My Name Is Earl” (4.3/12, 10.04m), with an hourlong seg of the comedy logging its best scores since April 6 and winning its hour in adults 18-34 (4.4/12).

Behind “Earl” on Thursday, “Scrubs” (4.0/10, 8.38m) matched its highest 18-49 rating in more than two years, and lead-out “30 Rock” established series highs at 9:30 (3.2/8, 6.84m). “ER” closed out the night with another victory (5.5/14, 12.02m).

CBS was paced as usual by the Thursday tandem of “CSI” (7.8/19, 23.25m) and “Survivor” (5.3/15, 15.72m) but also received some nice contributions elsewhere, including the return of comedy “King of Queens” on Wednesday (3.4/10 in 18-49, 9.80m for two firstrun segs).

Friday saw the annual winning perfs from holiday classics “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (4.5/15, 12.95m) and “Frosty the Snowman” (3.5/10, 10.66m), with the latter scoring a big 26 share in kids 2-11.

And on Sunday, finale of “The Amazing Race 10″ (4.1/10 in 18-49, 12.73m) was up from last May’s conclusion but down a bit vs. last December’s “Race 8″ finale.

ABC was paced by a two-hour “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (5.2/12, 14.21m) and got nice production out of Tuesday holiday spec “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” (3.8/11, 11.05m).

Wednesday’s combo of gamer “Show Me the Money” (1.9/6, 7.10m) and drama “Day Break” (1.7/4, 4.46m) tanked, while in its second try in a new Thursday-at-10 slot, “Men in Trees” (2.7/7, 8.28m) finished a distant third.

Fox had another quiet week overall, highlighted by a repeat “House” on Tuesday (4.6/12, 11.77m) and a firstrun “The Simpsons” on Sunday (4.1/10, 8.31m). Net’s airing of “The Billboard Music Awards” (2.7/7 in 18-49, 6.09m) was down year to year and ranked fourth in its Monday slot.

The CW delivered its best night to date Wednesday with the season finale of “America’s Next Top Model” (3.0/9 in 18-49, 6.19m) and “One Tree Hill” (1.9/5, 4.24m). Net ran third for the night in 18-49 (2.4/7) — ahead of ABC and Fox — and led all nets in viewers 12-34 (3.2/10).

“Top Model” logged the best finale demo scores in its seventh season, including a 3.9/12 in adults 18-34 and a 5.7/17 in females 12-34. And “Hill” saw its best deliveries in 18-34 (2.7/8) and femmes 12-34 (4.4/12) in nearly two years.

Frame’s biggest story in cable was ABC Family’s rise to No. 3 in primetime among adults 18-49 (behind USA and TBS) and No. 1 finish in total viewers (2.81 million) — the first time in net history it’s finished on top.

FX’s “Nip/Tuck” was the week’s top scripted cable series in 18-49 (1.6/5), while a special two-hour episode of TNT’s “The Closer” was the top scripted skein in both adults 25-54 (1.8/4) and total viewers (5.44m).

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