‘Desperate’ down but still a winner

Ratings Flash - Rick Kissell

“Desperate Housewives” finished its season an easy winner Sunday night for ABC despite continuing its recent trend of underperforming its averages of a year ago by more than 25%. Combined with series finales of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and “Brothers & Sisters,” the Alphabet carried the night in key demos.

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, “Desperate Housewives” (roughly 7.1 rating/17 share, 18.6 million viewers overall from 9 to 10:02 p.m.) was the standout performer of the night in both the 18-49 demo and total viewers; while this was its best delivery in 12 weeks, the show was off from last year’s two-hour sendoff (9.9/23 in 18-49, 24.2 million viewers overall). Lead-in “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (4.3/13 in 18-49, 12.3 million viewers overall) was down nearly 20% itself in the 8 o’clock hour, running first or second in most categories. And closing out the night, the first-season finale of “Brothers & Sisters” kept ABC on top (4.6/12 in 18-49, 12.4 million viewers overall) with the drama’s best numbers since January.

Fox was a solid second on the night, kicking things off with the hourlong season finale of “King of the Hill” (1.9/7 in 18-49, 4.6 million viewers overall). At 8, an hour of “The Simpsons” honoring the toon’s 400th episode racked up the comedy’s best ratings since January (4.5/13 in 18-49, 9.8 million viewers overall), narrowly beating ABC’s “Home” in 18-49 and winning easily in younger demos. Net remained strong at 9 with “Family Guy” (4.5/13 in 18-49, 10.4 million viewers overall) before dropping off some with “American Dad” at 9:30 (3.6/9 in 18-49, 7.7 million viewers overall). NBC and CBS weren’t much of a factor on the night with similar programming strategies of a newsmag and broadcast premiere of a theatrical: NBC with its combo of “Dateline” (1.1/4 in 18-49, 4.4 million viewers overall) and “National Treasure” (2.2/5 in 18-49, 6.3 million viewers overall), CBS with “60 Minutes” (1.8/6 in 18-49, 10.7 million viewers overall) and Oscar winner “Million Dollar Baby” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 6.9 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: ABC, 4.6/13; Fox, 3.5/10; NBC, 1.9/5; Univision, 1.6/4; CBS, 1.5/4; CW, 0.6/2.

In total viewers: ABC, 12.7 million; CBS, 7.9 million; Fox, 7.6 million; NBC, 5.8 million; Univision, 3.4 million; CW, 1.4 million.

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