'Pushing Daisies' begins to wither

Shifting the start of the World Series to midweek paid off nicely for Fox Sports on Wednesday as even a blowout Game 1 contest scored a home run in the Nielsens.

Fox dominated Wednesday’s ratings race as Boston’s 13-1 victory over Colorado — the most lopsided opening contest on record — notched the best Nielsens for Game 1 of the Fall Classic in three years. It’s also the best numbers for any net on the night since Fox’s “American idol” finale last May.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, NBC’s mentalist reality show “Phenomenon” opened to decent ratings and ABC’s recently renewed “Pushing Daisies” was on the decline in its fourth outing but remained the top entertainment series in its timeslot.

According to “live plus same day” Nielsen estimates, the World Series averaged a 5.8 rating/16 share in adults 18-49 and 16.9 million viewers overall from 8:30 p.m. to 12:02 a.m. ET, peaking early, in the 9 o’clock half-hour, with 20.19 million viewers.

Strong start, despite the blowout result, is a good sign for Fox, which has been bullish on the Fall Classic’s revamped schedule. In previous years, the Series started on a Saturday, virtually guaranteeing low ratings.

Compared to last year’s opener between St. Louis and Detroit, this year’s Game 1 registered a steep 61% improvement among adults 18-49. The demo delivery is the strongest since 2004, when the Red Sox took on the St. Louis Cardinals and captured their first World Series title in 86 years.

This year’s game also was higher than any game from last year’s Series.

On the entertainment side, “Phenomenon” (3.0/8 in 18-49, 8.55m) placed third in the 8 o’clock hour in its debut, a slight improvement over the net’s average in the timeslot this fall with “Deal or No Deal.” It skewed fairly male as expected, running second to baseball in men 18-49 (3.2/9).

In 18-49 and total viewers, “Phenomenon” lagged baseball and ABC’s “Pushing Daisies” (3.2/9 in 18-49, 9.67m), which was off 14% from the previous week. In the same hour, CBS’ “Kid Nation” (2.5/7 in 18-49, 7.86m) ran fourth but was on the rise for a second straight week after declining with its first three post-premiere segs.

ABC’s “Private Practice” (4.5/11 in 18-49, 11.91m) was the night’s top non-sports telecast in 18-49 and was up 5% week-to-week, while fellow rookie leadout “Dirty Sexy Money” (3.1/8, 8.26m) was up a tick but still remained well behind CBS vet “CSI: NY” (3.9/10, 13.82m).

NBC’s “Life” (2.5/6, 6.87m) remains behind its rivals at 10, as both it and fellow lead-in rookie “Bionic Woman” (3.3/8, 7.81m) have seen declines each week since their preems. In 18-49, “Bionic” trailed not only baseball and “Private Practice,” but also CBS’ “Criminal Minds” (3.9/10, 15.05m), with the latter easily drawing the most viewers overall among the dramas.

CW’s “America’s Next Top Model” continues to perform well (2.4/6, 4.94m), while the net’s “Gossip Girl” seems to have found its loyal core audience (1.2/3 in 18-49, 2.54m). “Gossip” was on par or up slightly vs. its recent perfs in various categories.

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