'SNL's' election special brings in big numbers

Fox made it two straight weeks atop the primetime demo leaderboard, riding the conclusion of the World Series and the best numbers for “The Simpsons” in nearly five years to a victory in 18-49.

The net also benefited from the end of a highly rated NFL contest on Sunday and a winning perf from “House” on Tuesday. Thanks to Fox’s year-to-year gains, last week was the strongest this fall for the struggling broadcaster relative to last year: ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and CW were off a combined 6% in 18-49 and a scant 1% in total viewers.

Fox led the Oct. 27-Nov. 2 sesh in adults 18-49, according to Nielsen’s “live plus same day” estimates, with a 3.4 rating/9 share. ABC ran second (3.1/8), and CBS and NBC tied for third (2.8/8).

It was a rare three-way tie for the lead among adults 25-54 (ABC, CBS and Fox each at a 3.8/9), while CBS led comfortably as usual in total viewers (11.4 million to 10.1 million for runner-up ABC).

On the cable side, Fox News continued its strong run leading up to the election, again ranking as the most-watched cable network (3.11 million). Three installments of “The O’Reilly Factor” topped 4 million viewers.

The conclusion of the World Series on Wednesday (6.2/16 in 18-49, 19.84m) was the week’s No. 1 primetime program in 18-49 — tying with NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” (6.2/15, 16.74m) and Fox’s “The Simpsons” (6.2/15, 12.40m) — and No. 1 outright in total viewers.

“The Simpsons” logged its best demo score in nearly five years, while “King of the Hill” (4.2/10, 8.50m) and “Family Guy” (5.1/11, 9.90m) were also strong. The laffers got a boost from the conclusion of the late-afternoon NFL game between Dallas and the New York Giants, which actually drew more viewers than any primetime program for the week (23.3 million).

Also for Fox, “House” ranked sixth for the week in 18-49 (5.4/14, 13.50m).

At ABC, “Desperate Housewives” (5.8/13 in 18-49, 15.93m) and “Grey’s Anatomy” (5.7/14, 15.32m) remained in the week’s top 5, and both nights of “Dancing With the Stars” rated well, including season highs for Tuesday’s results show (3.9/9, 17.44m).

Net also got nice boosts from Tuesday spec “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” (3.4/9, 10.38m) and from its nail-biter “Saturday Night Football” game between Texas and Texas Tech (4.4/14, 12.20m).

CBS was led by its Thursday lineup, although “CSI” (4.8/12 in 18-49, 19.10m) and “Eleventh Hour” (2.8/8, 11.25m) both drooped.

Among new shows, a repeat “Gary Unmarried” delivered the show’s best scores in a special Monday airing (2.9/7 in 18-49, 8.65m), and Tuesday drama “The Mentalist” ascended to its best score to date (3.9/9, 16.07m).

In addition to “Sunday Night Football,” where the Indianapolis Colts-New England Patriots matchup delivered the franchise’s best scores since late September, NBC was paced by its Thursday laffers “The Office” (4.8/12 in 18-49, 9.51m) and “30 Rock” (4.1/10, 8.66m).

This was the best delivery to date for “30 Rock,” which was kicking off its third season.

NBC certainly has plenty of hours to address, however, especially Friday drama “Crusoe” (0.8/3, 4.09m), which made things tough for “Lipstick Jungle” (1.0/3, 3.17m), which aired on its new night for the first time. Also struggling is Monday’s “My Own Worst Enemy” (2.3/6, 5.29m).

The CW had a solid week overall, even though its Sunday continues to be a drag and Wednesday newcomer “Stylista” isn’t clicking (0.9/2 in 18-49, 1.76m) behind vet hit “America’s Next Top Model” (2.0/6, 3.90m).

Net saw solid scores from “Gossip Girl” (1.6/4, 3.05m), “One Tree Hill” (1.7/4, 3.21m) and “90210” (1.6/4, 3.16m). And on Thursday, “Smallville” (1.7/5, 4.32m) and “Supernatural” (1.5/4, 3.55m) were at or near season highs in various categories.

MyNetwork, led by “WWE Friday Night Smackdown” (1.1/4, 3.01m), drew its largest weekly aud to date among 18-49 (780,000).

ESPN was the top cable net in 18-49, led by the “Monday Night Football” matchup between the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts (4.6/12 in 18-49, 11.60m).

Disney Channel’s third-season preem of “Hannah Montana” on Sunday was cable’s top entertainment telecast of the week in total viewers (5.53m) and key younger demos, grabbing the show’s best numbers in more than a year.

HBO’s “True Blood” continues to pick up steam, averaging 2.35 million viewers on Sunday. Its weekly cume, including VOD, repeats, DVR, etc., is about 6.4 million.

And Lifetime’s season finale of “Army Wives” (1.6/4, 3.94m) was cable’s top scripted hourlong of the week in 18-49, though it was down vs. last year when it didn’t oppose such strong firstrun competish.

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On Monday of the current week, ESPN made it nine straight 18-49 triumphs on the night with its “Monday Night Football” matchup between Washington and Pittsburgh (5.8/15 in 18-49, 14.21m). This was the second highest-rated “MNF” game this fall.

NBC was a solid second thanks to its Election Eve spec “Saturday Night Live: Presidential Bash” (5.6/13 in 18-49, 14.41m) — the net’s strongest non-Olympics delivery in the 9-11 p.m. Monday slot since the Golden Globes in January 2007. The Peacock was weaker than usual at 8, though, with “Deal or No Deal” (2.0/5, 7.18m) in place of “Chuck.”

Perhaps picking up some “Chuck” viewers, the opening hour was a strong one for the CBS comedies: “The Big Bang Theory” (3.7/10 in 18-49, 9.67m) matched its best 18-49 score while drawing its largest overall aud, and “How I Met Your Mother” (4.1/10, 9.40m) hit a season high in 18-49.

And CW was above average with its combo of “Gossip Girl” (1.6/4, 3.16m) and “One Tree Hill” (1.6/4, 3.02m), winning the night among femmes 12-34 (3.5/9).

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