Football was the big equalizer in the primetime ratings race last week, as overruns Saturday and Sunday lifted CBS to within a tick of ABC for the demo lead.
The Eye carried the week in adults 25-54 and led once again in total viewers. The Alphabet, though, is excelling across the week with its entertainment series and looks positioned to win its third straight November sweep among adults 18-49.
In Nielsen’s “live-plus-same-day” estimates for the week of Oct. 29-Nov. 4, ABC’s 3.6 rating/10 share in adults 18-49 edged out CBS (3.5/10), with NBC (3.0/8) and Fox (2.7/8) further behind. Univision finished fifth (1.6/4), followed by ESPN (1.3/3) and CW and USA (both at 1.0/3).
Combined, the five English-language broadcasters were down 15% vs. the same week last year, with Fox flat and CW (29%) and NBC (27%) showing the biggest declines. At least part of the falloff can be attributed to Nielsen’s national DVR estimates more than doubling year to year (now at 20.9%), as more viewers opt to watch shows after their premiere night telecast.
In adults 25-54, CBS held off ABC (4.5/11 vs. 4.2/11), while Fox and ABC tied for the lead among those 12-34 (2.5/8) and CBS led in overall aud (12.3 million vs. ABC’s 11.3 million).
ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” (8.1 rating/19 share in adults 18-49, 19.31 million viewers overall) overtook Fox’s “House” (7.0/17, 17.30m) to reclaim its title as the top primetime series among adults 18-49, with the Alphabet’s “Desperate Housewives” tying “House” at No. 2.
ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” is picking up steam, finishing in the top 10 in 18-49 (5.2/13) and standing as the most-watched primetime program.
Net also got a boost from Monday laffer “Samantha Who?” (4.5/10 in 18-49, 14.18m) and Tuesday spec “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” (3.8/11, 11.40m).
ABC was predictably the hardest hit among the nets on Halloween, where viewing levels among women 18-34 were down 15% week to week. Rookie hits “Pushing Daisies” (2.7/8 in 18-49, 8.57m) and “Private Practice” (3.8/10, 11.43m) drooped despite winning their hours in 18-49.
CBS benefited Sunday from the concluding 27 minutes of the most-watched program since the Academy Awards in February. Conclusion of the New England-Indianapolis NFL game averaged a monster 14.2/38 in 18-49 and 38.46 million viewers — and its overall average (33.8 million) makes it the most-watched regular-season Sunday game in at least 20 years.
That helped “60 Minutes” (5.0/12, 19.24m) launch its best scores in two years, while the 12th-season preem of “The Amazing Race” (4.3/10, 13.72m) drew the show’s best opening-night demo score in two years.
Also for the Eye, Thursday vets “Survivor” (4.9/13, 14.44m) and “Without a Trace” (3.9/10, 14.58m) had their best showings since premiere week); “Two and a Half Men” was the week’s No. 1 comedy (4.9/11, 13.73m); and it delivered its best Saturday of the season, courtesy of a roughly 90-minute overrun from the college football game between LSU and Alabama, which peaked at 9 o’clock with a 3.6/12 in 18-49.
Fox was hurt by the early finish to the World Series, scrambling to fill Monday and Wednesday of last week with repeats instead of Games 5 and 6.
Other than “House,” the net’s top performances came Sunday courtesy of the annual “Treehouse of Horror” seg of “The Simpsons” (5.7/13 in 18-49, 11.74m), which drew the show’s best demos in four years. Also, the 100th episode of “Family Guy” was strong at 9 (5.3/12, 10.74m).
Net did OK but still lagged behind its rivals on Thursday with two hours of celebrity “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” (2.5/6 in 18-49, 8.56m).
NBC was represented among the top 10 by only “Sunday Night Football” (6.7/16, 16.45m), which performed well opposite stronger-than-usual competish, even though the Dallas-Philadelphia game turned into a blowout victory for the Cowboys. Top entertainment series were “Heroes” (4.9/11, 10.51m) and “The Office” (4.5/11, 8.36m), two shows that have consistently been among the biggest percentage gainers when all DVR playback within a week is included.
It wasn’t a good week for the net’s new shows, as “Journeyman” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 5.75m) and “Life” (1.9/5, 5.71m) fell to lows, and “Phenomenon” was down in its second week (2.3/7, 6.16m), due at least in part to lower viewing levels on Halloween. “Chuck” continues to be the best rookie performer for the net (2.8/7 in 18-49, 7.14m), but it finished behind both ABC and CBS shows in its Monday slot.
Univision drew its best averages of the fall (1.3/3 in 18-49, 1.7/5 in 18-34 and 3.68 million viewers overall), propelled by weeknight telenovela “Destilando Amor” (Essence of Love), which averaged a best-yet 6.1 million viewers a night. On Friday in 18-49, it was the No. 1-rated program on television in the 9 o’clock hour (3.1/10).
The CW, with clipshows of “Beauty and the Geek” and “America’s Next Top Model,” didn’t have much to crow about. One highlight was Thursday’s “Supernatural,” which hit season bests in 18-34 (1.4/4) and total viewers (3.24 million).
MyNetwork delivered its best program ratings to date for Tuesday’s “Breaking the Magician’s Code 2” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 2.51m).
On the cable side, ESPN again set the pace behind “Monday Night Football” (5.5/14 in 18-49, 14.02m), which logged the second best scores of the season for its down-to-the-wire Green Bay-Denver contest.
Also looking good Monday were MTV’s “The Hills” (2.1/5 in 18-49, 3.34m), which did a 13 share in women 18-34, and VH1’s “I Love New York” (1.9/4 in 18-49, 4.00m), which did an 8 share in 12-34.
Tuesday saw a strong start for FX’s “Nip/Tuck” (Daily Variety, Nov. 1), as the drama racked up a 2.7/7 in 18-49 and 4.34 million viewers overall. Its 18-34 score (3.3/9) was the best to date for any episode of the show.
And on Wednesday, Comedy Central’s “South Park” did a 2.1/6 in 18-49 and a 14 share in men 18-34, while Sci Fi did well with “Ghost Hunters Live” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 2.78m).