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CBS stands strong

'Moonlight,' 'Big Bang Theory' on top

In a week that saw three nets separated by a razor-thin margin in the primetime demo race, CBS stood out, thanks to strong perfs by a mix of new and veteran series.

Rising rookies “Moonlight” and “The Big Bang Theory” achieved best-yet results in the eighth week of the season, and the Thursday trio of “Survivor,” “CSI” and “Without a Trace” continue to shine.

Overall for the week, according to “live plus-same day” Nielsen nationals, football-fueled Fox emerged a narrow leader in the adults 18-49 demo with a 3.4 rating/9 share, followed by ABC and CBS (both at 3.3/9), with NBC not far behind either (3.1/8).

The Eye led in adults 25-54 (4.3/11 to 4.0/10 for runner-up ABC) and total viewers (12.0 million vs. 10.4 million for ABC), while Fox held the advantage among the younger 12-34 crowd (3.0/9 vs. a 2.4/7 for NBC).

ABC is poised to win the November sweep, which wraps Nov. 28, in adults 18-49 while CBS should prevail in adults 25-54 and total viewers. Through Monday (19 of 28 nights), the Alphabet’s 3.6/10 in 18-49 was ahead of CBS (3.5/9), NBC (3.2/9) and Fox (3.1/8).

ABC should have a nice Saturday and Sunday, and can expect big numbers for the “Dancing With the Stars” finale on Monday and Tuesday.

Looking at last week for CBS, the final episode for Jorja Fox as a series regular lifted “CSI” to strong numbers (6.5/15 in 18-49, 21.37m), ranking No. 3 for the week in 18-49 and No. 2 in total viewers. And skedmates “Survivor: China” (4.8/13, 14.68m) and “Without a Trace” (4.1/11, 14.41m) led their timeslots as well.

Other vets to win in key demos as well as total viewers included “NCIS” (3.7/10 in 18-49, 17.39m), “Criminal Minds” (4.3/11, 15.73m) for the first time this season, and Saturday’s “48 Hours Mystery” (2.0/6, 7.29m).

But the best news for CBS was the continued gradual growth for first-year shows “Big Bang Theory” (3.8/9 in 18-49, 9.32m) and “Moonlight” (2.7/6, 8.16m). Neither is a top-20 show, but their impact on the Eye lineup is still considerable.

As “Moonlight” has gained viewers in recent weeks, so too have the shows surrounding it — “Ghost Whisperer” (2.7/9, 9.56m) and “Numbers” (2.8/8, 10.26m) — as the net is now sweeping Friday’s hours in 18-49,

And on Monday, “Big Bang Theory” has to be helping the 9 o’clock hours “Two and a Half Men” (5.0/11, 14.12m) and “Rules of Engagement” (4.3/10, 11.46m), with “Men” up vs. the same point of last season.

Fox, meanwhile, logged its first 18-49 victory in a November week since 1998. Sunday’s NFL overrun (mostly Dallas-Washington but also finishes of games including top markets Chicago and San Francisco) averaged a huge 11.2 rating in 18-49.

That helped the net’s comedies, as “The Simpsons” (5.3/13, 10.56m) and “Family Guy” (5.4/12, 10.55m) were both above average, while “King of the Hill” (4.4/10, 9.23m) and “American Dad” (4.0/9, 8.12m) posted their best 18-49 scores in years.

Frame also featured season highs for unscripted skeins “Kitchen Nightmares” on Wednesday (3.2/8, 6.95m) and “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader” on Thursday (2.9/8, 9.63m), and another potent perf from Tuesday’s “House” (7.0/17, 16.95m) — the week’s No. 2 show in 18-49.

ABC claimed the week’s top program in both 18-49 (an 8.2/19 for “Grey’s Anatomy”) and total viewers (21.81 million for “Dancing With the Stars”). Also, Sunday’s “American Music Awards” benefited from moving to a higher-profile and stronger night for ABC to post three-year highs (4.8/12 in 18-49, 11.81m).

Net gave new drama “Women’s Murder Club” additional exposure by airing it behind “Grey’s Anatomy” on Thursday, but it didn’t draw all that well (3.0/8, 8.38m). Show remains an OK performer on Friday (where it did a 1.8/5 in 18-49 and 8.91 million viewers overall), and isn’t getting any help from its “Men in Trees” lead-in (1.6/5, 6.27m).

At NBC, “Sunday Night Football” (5.8/14, 14.47m) ranked fourth for the week in 18-49 even though the game produced the most lopsided primetime NFL result on record (New England defeated Buffalo 56-10).

Other top performers for the Peacock were “Heroes” (5.2/12, 11.16m), “The Office” (4.8/11, 8.80m) and “Law & Order: SVU” (4.4/12, 12.48m), while Thursday leadoff laffer “My Name Is Earl” also looked good (3.7/10, 8.01m).

A weak spot for the net is Wednesday’s combo of “Phenomenon” (2.0/6, 6.10m) and “Bionic Woman” (2.5/6, 6.29m).

Pacing the week for CW was Wednesday’s combo of “America’s Next Top Model” (2.6/7 in 18-49, 5.34m) and “Gossip Girl” (1.4/4, 2.95m). “Model” matched or set season highs in various demos, including 18-34 (first-place 3.0/9), while “Gossip” logged its best in-season score to date in the 18-34 demo (2.1/5).

ESPN, despite the lowest-rated “Monday Night Football” contest of the season (3.6/9 in 18-49, 8.96m for Seattle-San Francisco), edged out USA for the week’s primetime 18-49 lead among cablers, while Disney Channel drew the most overall viewers (2.85 million), putting it not too far behind CW (2.96 million).

Nickelodeon had a big outing Monday from spec “Spongebob Atlantis Pantis,” whose 8.76 million viewers outdrew NBC and Fox in its slot. It was easily cable’s most-watched non-sports telecast of the week.

Also of note, Wednesday’s “Project Runway” opened with the best premiere numbers to date for a Bravo series (1.5/4 in 18-49, 2.89m). And on the same night, Comedy Central’s “South Park” ended its most-watched season since 1998 with the best numbers for any cable program on the night (2.0/5 in 18-49, 3.77m).

Meanwhile, over at Showtime, “Dexter” continues to slay viewers. Sunday’s seg averaged 1.23 million viewers at 9 p.m., the best numbers ever for a single run of a series on Showtime since 2004. Add in the 405,000 extra viewers who watched an encore showing at 11 p.m., and Showtime surpassed the numbers it did last spring with the series premiere of “The Tudors.”

Heat surrounding “Dexter” is helping Showtime’s critically hailed “Brotherhood.” Skein attracted 651,000 viewers with its two Sunday telecasts, the biggest audience ever for the show.

(Josef Adalian contributed to this report.)

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