'Football,' World Series play big with demos

Sports continues to play a big role in the primetime ratings race: While the final two games of the World Series carried Fox to another demo victory last week, it was NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” that emerged as the top demo draw overall.

The pigskin matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles racked up the second best numbers for any “SNF” game this fall (8.5 rating/22 share in adults 18-49, 21.88 million viewers overall), rallying the Peacock to a competitive weekly finish even though it lagged well behind its rivals through Saturday.

Fox won the frame by a comfortable margin in adults 18-49 — its record fifth victory in the fall — and has assumed a lead for the season that it is unlikely to relinquish. CBS, which benefited a bit from an NFL overrun on Sunday, was a close second to Fox in adults 25-54 last week and won again in total viewers, two categories it leads for the season as well.

On the entertainment side, standout performance last week was the premiere of ABC’s alien-invasion series “V,” which opened better in 18-49 than any new series this fall.

It and other top demo performers like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Desperate Housewives” are keeping the Alphabet, the only network that isn’t getting a jolt from professional sports, in the competitive mix.

Overall for the week of Nov. 2-8, according to Nielsen, Fox’s 3.6 rating/10 share in adults 18-49 was well ahead of the pack, with CBS second (2.9/8), followed closely by NBC (2.8/8) and ABC (2.7/7). Univision ran fifth (1.5/4), with CW and ESPN tying for sixth (1.1/3).

CBS led for the sixth time in seven weeks in total viewers (11.1 million to 10.7 million for runner-up Fox), while Fox won narrowly in adults 25-54 (3.9/10 to 3.8/10 for CBS) and cruised among persons 12-34 (3.4/10 to 2.6/8 for CBS).

Most of Fox’s damage during the week came courtesy of the World Series, first with Monday’s Game 5 (5.3/14 in 18-49, 17.09m) and then peaking with Wednesday’s sixth and final game (7.4/20, 22.34m).

Net’s strongest entertainment night came courtesy of its “Family Guy” lineup on Sunday, which included solid-enough numbers for the spec “Seth & Alex’s Almost Live Comedy Show” (3.4/8 in 18-49, 6.73m) in between segs of “Family Guy” at 8 p.m. (3.7/9, 7.26m) and 9 p.m. (4.1/10, 8.00m).

CBS claimed the week’s top two comedies in “The Big Bang Theory” (4.7/11 in 18-49, 12.73m) and “Two and a Half Men” (4.4/11, 13.51m), and also won Tuesday behind “NCIS” (4.3/11, 20.18m) and “NCIS: Los Angeles” (3.6/9, 15.29m). Also of note, Thursday drama “The Mentalist” (3.6/10 in 18-49, 16.21m) beat ABC’s “Private Practice” in 18-49 for the first time, and also built a bit on its “CSI” lead-in (3.5/9, 15.60m).

Sunday, following a 20-minute NFL overrun (8.4/25 in 18-49, 25.80m for the end of the San Diego-NY Giants game), “60 Minutes” hit a season high with its interview with tennis great Andre Agassi (3.8/10, 16.85m). And right behind it, “Amazing Race” also scored its best scores of the fall (3.5/8, 11.62m).

Aside from football, NBC was led by “The Office” (4.1/10 in 18-49, 8.09m), which has consistently been beating CBS timeslot rival “CSI” in 18-49. And the Peacock’s “Community” is gaining ground in the Thursday leadoff slot (2.3/6, 5.45m).

“The Jay Leno Show” averaged a 1.48 rating in 18-49, up a tad week to week, although its total viewer average (4.82 million) repped a low. It was hit especially hard on Monday (1.2/3 in 18-49, 3.92m) opposite the World Series.

At ABC, “V” arrived with impressive numbers (5.2/14 in 18-49, 14.30m), including the best preem for any new 8 o’clock drama since the net’s “Lost” five years ago. It was joined in the weekly top 10 by vets “Grey’s Anatomy” (5.1/13, 13.95m) and “Desperate Housewives” (4.4/10, 13.79m), while comedy “Modern Family” (3.5/9, 8.77m) stayed in the top 20 despite opposing the World Series.

Also, while Thursday rookie “FlashForward” posted its lowest scores to date (2.6/7 in 18-49, 8.57m), Friday newsmag “20/20″ hit a season high (2.8/9, 8.43m), featuring Diane Sawyer’s interview with Rihanna.

CW was paced by “Vampire Diaries” (1.9/5 in 18-49, 4.09m), which won its hour among young femmes, and “America’s Next Top Model” (1.7/5, 3.87m), which hit season highs in several categories. Also, CW’s “Smallville” achieved season highs (1.2/4, 2.63m) as more auds are finding it on Friday.

Univision had its highest-rated week in while thanks a boost from Thursday’s telecast of the 10th annual Latin Grammy Awards (2.7/7 in 18-49, 5.99m).

In cable, ESPN led with “Monday Night Football” (5.2/14 in 18-49, 12.37m for New Orleans-Atlanta), which stayed potent even opposite baseball.

The most-watched entertainment telecasts of the week were Nickelodeon’s Friday combo of “Spongebob Truth or Sqaure” (7.66 million) and “Fanboy & Chum Chum” (5.78m), with the latter drawing the largest-ever kids 2-11 aud (3.5 million) for a series debut on the net.

Fox News dominated on Tuesday, a night of election coverage, with its primetime averages (4.04 million viewers overall, 1.13 million adults 25-54) beating the combined delivery of MSNBC, Headline News and fourth-place newsie CNN.

USA’s new Friday drama “White Collar” (0.9/3 in 18-49, 3.85m) took a step back after a couple of promising perfs, losing some of its lead-in from “Monk” (1.1/3, 4.27m).

And Sunday saw the season finale of AMC’s “Mad Men” draw 2.32 million viewers and stand as cable’s top show of the night in men 25-54.

On the same night, E! drew 3.17 million for its two-hour spec “The Wedding: Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” which was cable’s No. 1 show of the night in women 18-34 (2.2/6).

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