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ABC’s ‘Housewives’ stays hot

'Brothers & Sisters,' football score on Sunday

Another strong pro football contest carried NBC to victory on the opening Sunday of the season, but ABC held up nicely with its combo of “Desperate Housewives” and “Brothers & Sisters.” The sudsers capped a winning start to the season for the Alphabet, which is poised to take premiere week in both demos and total viewers.

ABC will claim the week’s top two entertainment telecasts among young adults — the preems of vets “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Desperate Housewives” — and the top four telecasts among total viewers, including two segs of “Dancing With the Stars.”

This will mark the fourth consecutive premiere-week victory in the prized 18-49 demo for ABC, and its second straight in total viewers. The net is projected to finish with a 3.8 Nielsen rating in 18-49 (to a 3.3 or 3.4 for runner-up NBC), and 12.2 million viewers overall (to 11.3 for second-place CBS).

ABC certainly boosted its standing in premiere week by airing an extra night of “Dancing With the Stars” and an extra hour of “Grey’s Anatomy.” And there was also one noticeable show missing from the primetime landscape: CBS’ top show, “CSI,” which bows Oct. 9.

Looking at Sunday, NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” matchup between the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles is projected to generate roughly a 7.4 rating/18 share in adults 18-49 and 18 million viewers overall. It was a tight game all the way, with the Bears holding on, 24-20.

Despite the strong game — which should come in 15%-20% ahead of last year’s rating on the same night for the game between the Eagles and New York Giants — ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” kicked off its fifth season with strong Nielsens (prelim 7.0/16 in 18-49, 18.4 million viewers overall).

Show, which fast-forwarded the action by five years in a storytelling tweak that has generated strong review notices, dipped by about 5% from last year’s bow but outperformed its final six episodes of last season. And at 10, “Brothers & Sisters” (prelim 4.7/12 in 18-49, 12.4 million viewers) kept ABC the top-rated entertainment network at 10 p.m., also a bit below last year.

The “Housewives” score is all the more impressive considering that its lead-in, the two-hour season premiere of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” delivered a nothing-special 3.7/9 in 18-49 and 11.9 million viewers overall for its second half — down more than 20% year to year.

At Fox, following an NFL overrun and postgame show that dominated the 7 o’clock hour, “The Simpsons” (prelim 4.4/12 in 18-49, 9.3 million viewers) was slightly off its year-ago premiere pace, while “King of the Hill” (prelim 3.3/8, 7.0 million), “Family Guy” (prelim 4.5/10, 9.2 million) and “American Dad” (prelim 3.2/7, 6.9 million) all declined a bit more but remained solid.

CBS opened as usual with “60 Minutes” (prelim 2.1/6 in 18-49, 12.1 million viewers), followed by the season preem of “The Amazing Race” (prelim 3.1/8, 10.3 million), which was down sharply from last year, when it followed a highly rated NFL contest.

The net earned unspectacular numbers from 9 to 11 p.m. with the season preems of dramas “Cold Case” (prelim 2.7/6 in 18-49, 11.2 million viewers) and “The Unit” (prelim 2.6/6, 9.7 million). “The Unit,” airing in its new time period, retained nearly all of its 18-49 “Cold Case” lead-in, and built on it among men despite the football game.

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