ABC's 'Housewives' wins night despite drop

ABC remained in control of Sunday’s ratings race, winning this week behind the return of “Desperate Housewives,” which was on the low end of its range but was still easily the night’s top draw.

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, “Desperate Housewives” averaged a 5.7 rating/13 share in adults 18-49 and about 16 million viewers overall, more than doubling the demo delivery of any other net in the 9 o’clock hour. In part due to being sidelined by the writers strike, “Housewives” was down 22% from its most recent original episode on Jan. 6 and off about 10% from the same night a year ago. It could see an increase in coming weeks, though, as usual skedmates “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and “Brothers & Sisters” return to the lineup.

On this Sunday, “Oprah’s Big Give” slid into the 8 o’clock slot and was on the low end (2.9/8 in 18-49, 8.9 million viewers overall), while a special airing of rookie drama “Eli Stone” (2.9/7 in 18-49, 9.2 million viewers overall) performed better than it has been on Thursdays and won its hour in most categories.

Numbers for CBS were hard to read as a Masters golf overrun filled the night’s opening half-hour (a projected 4.4/14 in 18-49 and 16.7 million viewers overall from 7 to 7:30 p.m.) and the rest of the night’s programming started late. An original episode of “Cold Case” figures to come in with about a 2.5/6 in 18-49 and a little over 9 million viewers overall.

Fox was led by original episodes of “The Simpsons” (3.3/9 in 18-49, 6.9 million viewers overall) and “Family Guy” (3.0/7 in 18-49, 6.5 million viewers overall), while NBC really struggled with its lineup of “Dateline” (1.3/4 in 18-49, 6.1 million viewers overall), “Monk” (1.1/3 in 18-49, 5.2 million viewers overall), “Psych” (1.2/3 in 18-49, 4.2 million viewers overall) and a repeat “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (1.5/4 in 18-49, 5.5 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: ABC, 3.5/9; CBS, 2.7/7; Fox, 2.4/6; NBC, 1.3/3; Univision, 0.6/2; CW, 0.5/1.

In total viewers: ABC, 10.5 million; CBS, 10.4 million; NBC, 5.3 million; Fox, 5.1 million; CW and Univision, 1.2 million.

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