ABC wins Sunday night ratings race

A tornado touched down on Sunday’s episode of “Desperate Housewives,” and it helped the ABC series establish season highs and easily stand as the night’s top-rated program. ABC won the night, though both NBC and Fox were competitive thanks to pro football.

According to preliminary Nielsen nationals, “Desperate Housewives” averaged a 7.7 rating/17 share in adults 18-49 and 20.6 million viewers overall, rising about 10% above the previous week and logging the show’s best averages since November 2006. “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (4.9/11 in 18-49, 14.5 million viewers overall) and “Brothers & Sisters” (4.8/12 in 18-49, 12.7 million viewers overall) were more in line with their recent averages, placing first or second in their timeslots in various categories.

Preliminary numbers for NBC’s live pro football action are subject to revision, but the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals should come in with about a 5.6 rating in 18-49 and more than 14 million viewers overall — making it the night’s No. 2 program.

Fox opened the night with roughly a 6 demo rating and 16.1 million viewers overall from 7 to 8 o’clock for its NFL overrun and postgame show. A repeat “Family Guy” was its top entertainment telecast of the night (3.5/8 in 18-49, 7.0 million viewers overall).

CBS was solid with “60 Minutes” (2.9/8 in 18-49, 14.0 million viewers overall) and “Amazing Race” (3.4/8 in 18-49, 11.2 million viewers overall) but dropped off from 9 to 11 p.m. with new Hallmark Hall of Fame movie “Pictures of Hollis Woods” (2.2/5 in 18-49, 11.4 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: ABC, 4.9/12; NBC, 4.4/11; Fox, 4.3/10; CBS, 2.7/6; CW, 0.4/1.

In total viewers: ABC, 13.9 million; CBS, 12.0 million; NBC, 10.9 million; Fox, 10.4 million; CW, 1.2 million.

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