Network also scores with 'Stars'

A twister on “Desperate Housewives” helped blow the roof off an already big week for ABC, as the Alphabet logged the most convincing primetime ratings victory for any net this season.

ABC also scored with the two-night “Dancing With the Stars” finale, the highest-rated college football game of the season on Saturday, and a boffo bow for new holiday spec “Shrek the Halls.”

Overall, the net rolled to victory in all key demos for the Nov. 26-Dec. 2 frame, topping second-place CBS by a sizable 29% margin in 18-49, according to Nielsen nationals that include same-day DVR playback. ABC is also the clear leader in the demo through 10 weeks of the season.

The Alphabet’s 4.0 rating/10 share in 18-49 last week — its best for any frame since the Academy Awards last February — was followed by a 3.1/8 for Fox and a 3.0/8 for NBC. CBS, with not a lot happening over the weekend, suffered a rare fourth-place demo finish (2.7/7), followed by Univision (1.7/4), ESPN (1.3/3) and USA and CW (both 1.1/3).

ABC also cruised to victory in adults 25-54 (4.6/11), persons 12-34 (3.2/9) and total viewers (12.5 million).

“Desperate Housewives” (7.8 rating/17 share in adults 18-49, 20.65 million viewers overall), logging its best numbers in just over a year, stood as the week’s No. 1 program in 18-49. Net actually claimed five of the week’s top six programs in the demo, also including Wednesday’s “Shrek the Halls” (7.1/19), skedmate “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (6.8/17, 18.53m) and the final two nights of “Dancing With the Stars.”

The hoofing competish was the week’s most-watched program overall with 24.88 million viewers — as ABC swept the week’s top five shows in this category. Among all primetime shows this fall, only the season preem of CBS vet “CSI” (25.22 million) has drawn more viewers.

ABC carried the weekend, winning Friday with strong numbers for a rebroadcast of feature film “The Polar Express” (3.1/9, 10.37m) and taking Saturday with the highest-rated Big 12 championship game in college football (4.1/12 in 18-49, 10.84m for Oklahoma-Missouri) in seven years. And “Housewives” on Sunday was surrounded by solid numbers for “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (4.8/11, 14.40m) and “Brothers & Sisters” (4.7/11, 12.56m).

Fox finished second for the week thanks mostly to a finishing kick on Sunday with an NFL overrun. Entertainment series highlights for the net were mainly relegated to Tuesday’s combo of “House” (7.0/16 in 18-49, 16.97m) and “Bones” (3.4/9, 9.68m), but also included season-high scores for Thursday’s “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” (2.9/7, 8.27m), which built on its lead-in from a crossover episode with “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader” (2.4/6, 8.97m).

NBC was led as usual by “Sunday Night Football” (5.7/13, 14.38m for Pittsburgh-Cincinnati), but also saw some of its key series on the rise: “Heroes” (5.3/12, 11.89m) hit an eight-week high, “Chuck” (3.3/8, 8.42m) a six-week high, and “Law & Order: SVU” (4.6/12, 12.29m), a five-week high.

At CBS, highlights included winning perfs by midweek vets “Survivor” (4.5/12, 13.57m), “Criminal Minds” (4.5/11, 16.23m) and “CSI: NY” (4.1/11, 14.19m). And Monday remains strong, led by “Two and a Half Men” (5.0/11, 15.26m) and “CSI: Miami” (4.6/12, 15.58m), with the former easily defeating ABC’s competing laffer “Samantha Who” (3.7/8, 11.69m) in their first matchup.

Not helping the net much last week were Friday spec “My Night at the Grammys” (1.7/5, 6.08m) and Hallmark Hall of Fame movie “Pictures of Hollis Woods” (2.1/5, 11.35m).

In the topsy-turvy evening news race, ABC’s “World News” moved back in front of NBC’s “Nightly News” in both adults 25-54 (2.3/9 to 2.1/8) and total viewers (9.35 million to 9.17 million). And though NBC narrowly won the November sweep, the Alphabet newscast was the only one to gain viewers year-to-year, rising 2% while NBC eased by 4 and CBS tumbled by 13%.

Looking at the primetime week in cable, first-place ESPN was buoyed by a strong delivery for “Monday Night Football” (5.3/13 in 18-49, 13.12m for Pittsburgh-Miami) and hearty numbers for Saturday night’s West Virginia-Pittsburgh college football game (1.6/5, 4.10m).

NFL Network averaged a big 10.05 million viewers for its Dallas-Green Bay NFL contest, even though the young net isn’t available in much of the country. On a coverage-area basis, the game’s 14.6 household rating (meaning nearly 15% of all homes that have the net were tuned in) is the best for any ad-supported cable program in 14 years.

Other highlights included Sci Fi scoring Sunday with the bow of three-night miniseries “The Tin Man” (2.6/6 in 18-49, 6.33m), and E! hitting season highs for the finale of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” on Sunday (1.1/3 in 18-49, 1.89m) — the net’s best finale ratings since “The Anna Nicole Show” five years ago. “Kardashians” was especially strong among women 18-34 (2.5/7).

And a few cabler got into the holiday spirit: ABC Family kicked off its annual “25 Days of Christmas” with the net’s best numbers of 2007; Lifetime’s annual movie festival “Fa La La La Lifetime” got off to a good start Saturday with original pic “Holiday Switch” averaging 3.52 million; and on the same night, Hallmark Channel rose drew 3.56 million for its second of four original holiday pics this year, “All I Want for Christmas.”

CNN averaged 4.49 million viewers for its You Tube GOP presidential debate on Wednesday, which topped the 4.04 million that the cabler drew for the Democrats on Nov. 15 and making it the most-watched debate of the year.

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