Baseball bats network to No. 1; ABC follows

The Fox net got back in the swing of things last week, plating a rare autumn primetime ratings victory thanks to the final games of baseball’s Red Sox-Indians playoff series.

Sunday’s victory by Boston over Cleveland, which enabled the Red Sox to advance to the World Series, stood as the No. 3-rated program of the week in both adults 18-49 (5.5 rating/13 share) and total viewers (19.15 million), according to Nielsen. That capped a strong finish to a series that got really interesting when the Red Sox rallied to win two straight contests and force a deciding seventh game.

ABC claimed the week’s top entertainment series among adults 18-49, with “Grey’s Anatomy” (7.3/17, 18.04m) tying with “Desperate Housewives” (7.3/16, 18.21m).

Overall for the Oct. 15-21 frame, Fox’s 3.9 rating/11 share in adults 18-49 beat out ABC’s 3.5/10 as the Alphabet settled for second place for the first time this season. NBC (3.1/9) and CBS (3.0/8) were in a tight battle for third, followed by Univision (1.5/4), CW (1.3/3) and ESPN (1.2/3).

Fox also won in adults 25-54 (4.4/11) and persons 12-34 (2.9/10) while handing CBS a rare setback in total viewers (11.8 million to 11.0 million for the Eye).

Fox hadn’t won a week this early in the season since 2004, with the hugely rated seven-game series between the Red Sox and Yankees. It remains in fourth for the season but is the only major broadcaster showing year-to-year gains and could close the gap with its rivals if it gets a lengthy Fall Classic.

In addition to baseball on Sunday, Fox got a nice boost from football. The conclusion of its late-afternoon contests averaged a big 10.6 rating/33 share in adults 18-49 and 27.3 million viewers overall in the opening half-hour of primetime.

On the entertainment side, reality series “Kitchen Nightmares” scared up its best scores to date Wednesday (3.1/8, 6.87m), and the debut of “Next Great American Band” fared decently on Friday (1.5/5, 3.61m) — at least by that night’s low standards.

ABC won Monday on the strength of “Dancing With the Stars” and a promising debut for comedy “Samantha Who” (4.5/10, 14.42m). The Alphabet web also prevailed Wednesday with hot rookies “Pushing Daisies” (3.7/10, 9.896m) and “Private Practice” (4.3/11, 11.78m) and got a lift on Sunday from “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” (5.1/12, 13.72m), which logged its best numbers since March.

Hanging in there are Tuesday comedies “Cavemen” (2.8/8, 6.91m) and “Carpoolers” (2.7/8, 6.99m), while Friday’s “Women’s Murder Club” fell off in its second outing (2.1/7, 9.71m) but still won or tied for its time period’s lead in various categories.

NBC was paced by “Sunday Night Football” (5.5/13, 13.29m for Denver-Pittsburgh), “Heroes” (5.2/12, 11.41m), “Law & Order: SVU” (4.8/13, 12.51m) and “The Office” (4.5/11, 8.61m).

Among first-year shows, “Bionic Woman” dipped again on Wednesday (3.4/9, 8.62m), but Monday’s “Chuck” (3.3/9, 8.36m) was on the rise, taking advantage of Fox preempting slot rival “Prison Break” for baseball.

CBS was led by Thursday’s “CSI” (6.5/15, 21.22m) and Monday’s “CSI: Miami” (4.8/12, 15.59m) and “Two and a Half Men” (4.7/11, 13.69m), with the latter the week’s No. 1 comedy in 18-49.

Net also saw “Kid Nation” (2.4/7 in 18-49, 7.35m) bounce back after weeks of declines, while Tuesday dramas “NCIS” (4.1/12, 17.55m) and “The Unit” (3.5/9, 12.35m) hit season highs. And CBS won or tied for the demo lead each hour Friday, paced by “Numbers” (2.7/9, 9.85m) and “Ghost Whisperer” (2.4/9, 8.95m).

CW remains strong, kicking off the midweek nights with “Beauty and the Geek” (1.8/5, 3.60m), “America’s Next Top Model” (2.5/7, 4.94m) and “Smallville” (2.1/6, 5.18m), and Tuesday’s “Reaper” also rose a bit (1.5/4, 3.27m).

Net’s Sunday saw a bit of improvement with a repeat of “Aliens in America” filling in at 7:30 p.m. for the canceled “Online Nation.” That, in turn, helped 8 o’clock rookie drama “Life Is Wild” post its best numbers (0.5/1, 1.57m).

ESPN led cablers in key demos as well as total viewers despite a below-average “Monday Night Football” (3.5/9 in 18-49, 8.48m for New York Giants-Atlanta Falcons). Net got a boost from a pair of key college games: LSU-Auburn on Saturday (1.9/8, 5.07m) and South Florida-Rutgers on Thursday (1.6/5, 4.20m).

Elsewhere, USA had the week’s top scripted program with an original episode of “Law & Order: CI” on Thursday (1.6/4 in 18-49, 4.54m), while other notable performers included MTV’s “The Hills” (1.9/5, 3.29m) and Wednesday’s Comedy Central combo of “South Park” (1.9/5, 3.43m) and “The Sarah Silverman Program” (1.3/4, 2.28m).

VH1’s “I Love New York 2″ is performing well for the net (1.5/3 in 18-49, 3.15m), including a 2.6/6 in women 18-34. It helped launch skeins “The Salt-N-Pepa Show” (1.1/3, 2.18m) and “Gotti’s Way” (0.9/2, 1.64m) to solid numbers.

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