Fall Classic is a hit, if not a homerun

The World Series hasn’t been a ratings juggernaut for Fox, but it’s still a big enough event to make a difference in the weekly ratings.

After running fourth for the first month of the season, Fox ascended to the top spot among adults 18-49 last week thanks to three nights of coverage of the Fall Classic. Net also got a nice boost from the end of a huge NFL game Sunday, and its “House” was among the week’s top shows.

CBS, meanwhile, had more good news as it was on par with its perf on the same week a year ago while its competitors all declined by double-digit percentages. It tied ABC for second in 18-49 and holds a slim edge on the Alphabet for the season lead through five weeks — the first time since at least 1987 (the start of Nielsen’s People Meters) that the Eye has been on top through five weeks.

Overall for the Oct. 20-26 frame, according to Nielsen, Fox led with a 3.6 rating/10 share in adults 18-49, followed by ABC and CBS (3.0/8), with NBC a distant fourth without football (2.2/6). Univision ran fifth (1.7/5), with ESPN sixth (1.2/4).

Fox also led in adults 25-54 (4.2/11) and persons 12-34 (2.7/9), while CBS prevailed as usual in total viewers (11.4 million to 10.9 million for Fox).

Sunday helped put Fox over the top, starting with whopping numbers for the final full half-hour of the New York Giants-Pittsburgh Steelers NFL contest (9.5/29 in 18-49, 26.5 million viewers). Later, Game 4 of the World Series posted this year’s best numbers to date (5.1/13 in 18-49, 13.06m), ranking fifth for the week.

World Series games also ranked in the week’s top 15 in 18-49 on Wednesday (4.8/13 in 18-49, 14.63m) and Thursday (4.0/11, 12.78m), but Saturday’s rain-delayed contest — which didn’t start until 10 p.m. in the East — settled for ho-hum scores (3.2/11, 9.84m).

Fox shined on Tuesday, winning both of its hours in 18-49 with “House” (5.6/15 in 18-49, 13.08m) and “Fringe” (3.9/10, 8.91m), with the former delivering its best scores since the start of the television season.

Not so hot for the net is its Monday drama tandem of “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” (2.0/5, 5.02m) and “Prison Break” (2.2/5, 5.45m).

At CBS, “CSI” (5.5/13 in 18-49, 19.49m) was the week’s No. 3 program in 18-49 and No. 1 in both adults 25-54 (7.1/16) and total viewers. “CSI,” “Survivor” (4.4/12, 13.31m) and solid rookie “Eleventh Hour” (3.1/8, 11.85m) lifted the net to victory Thursday opposite the World Series.

Other highlights for the Eye included its Monday comedy block, led by “Two and a Half Men” (5.1/12, 14.63m) and “How I Met Your Mother” (4.0/10, 9.45m), and the largest overall audience since early 2006 for Friday’s “Ghost Whisperer” (2.6/9 in 18-49, 10.14 million).

Among new shows, Tuesday’s “The Mentalist” continues to look sturdy (3.4/9, 15.28m) and Wednesday laffer “Gary Unmarried” (2.5/7, 7.56m) was on the rise, but Friday’s “The Ex List” (1.5/5, 5.33m) took a tumble and has since been pulled from the sked.

ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” (5.8/13 in 18-49, 15.95m) was the top program of the week in 18-49, marking the fourth time in five frames that an Alphabet skein topped the rankings. Net’s “Grey’s Anatomy” — the program that thus far is gaining the most viewership in same-week DVR playback — ran fourth last week (5.4/13, 14.45m).

The Alphabet saw improved numbers for Sunday staples “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (2.5/7 in 18-49, 8.61m) and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (3.9/10, 15.95m), and Thursday’s “Ugly Betty” edged upward as well (2.8/8, 8.70m).

Net also got a big boost from its “Saturday Night Football” college game between top 10 rivals Penn State and Ohio State (3.6/12, 10.37m), delivering about the same average as ABC’s Thursday lineup.

On Wednesday, “Private Practice” (3.0/8 in 18-49, 7.98m) is hanging in there, but soph skedmates “Pushing Daisies” (1.9/5, 5.69m) and “Dirty Sexy Money” (1.9/5, 5.74m) are dragging the night down.

NBC, hurting as its top-rated “Sunday Night Football” took a week off due to the World Series, was led by Thursday’s combo of “The Office” (4.2/10 in 18-49, 7.98m) and “SNL: Weekend Update” (4.0/9, 8.80m). Night’s “ER” continues to perform pretty well in its final season (3.2/8, 8.82m), but new 8:30 entry “Kath & Kim” isn’t doing much (2.2/6, 4.99m).

Another rookie that’s not clicking is Monday’s “My Own Worst Enemy” (2.5/6, 5.69m), while Wednesday drama “Knight Rider” continues to post passable numbers (2.2/6, 7.23m).

The CW was paced by “One Tree Hill” (1.9/4 in 18-49, 3.69m), which matched the show’s best-ever ratings in adults 18-34 (3.0/8) and built by wider margins than usual over its “Gossip Girl” lead-in (1.4/4, 3.03m).

Also for the net, “America’s Next Top Model” hit some season highs (2.1/6, 4.44m), but a good chunk of that aud didn’t stick around for the premiere of “Stylista” (1.1/3, 2.35m).

MyNetwork continues to grow its audience for “WWE Friday Night Smackdown” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 3.52m), which set numerous network records.

ESPN led the primetime week in cable, courtesy of its “Monday Night Football” contest between the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos (4.4/11 in 18-49, 10.82m).

Three news nets ranked among the week’s top 10 primetime cablers in adults 25-54: Fox News ran sixth (694,000), MSNBC moved up to seventh (626,000) and CNN ranked 10th (589,000). Fox News (2.9 million) ran second to ESPN (3.1 million) for the week in total viewers, and for the month it lagged only baseball-boosted TBS.

CNN’s news-driven comedy show “D.L. Hughley Breaks the News” got off to a pretty good start on Saturday, drawing 1.49 million viewers.

On Sunday, AMC’s finale of “Mad Men” drew its second largest aud of the season (1.75 million), while HBO’s “True Blood” hit another high (2.07 million). Night’s top entertainment show on cable, though, was Disney Channel’s “Wizards of Waverly Place,” which averaged about 4.7 million viewers with its pair of episodes.

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