But Fox poised to win November sweep

A strong finish thanks to the American Music Awards helped ABC tie CBS for a share of the demo lead last week.

Both nets are in a down-to-the-wire battle for second place for the November sweep, which ends tonight with some races still in doubt.

What is certain is that Fox will win November among adults 18-49 — its first such triumph — thanks to four games of the World Series. And CBS has made it nine straight years as the most-watched network overall in the fall sweep.

Final numbers, however, won’t be available until next week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, and even those won’t include same-week DVR playback, which will follow in early December.

Looking at the Nov. 16-22 frame, ABC and CBS led in adults 18-49 with a 3.0 rating/8 share, followed by NBC (2.5/7) and Fox (2.4/7).

CBS held a slight edge in adults 25-54 (3.7/10 to 3.6/9 for ABC) and cruised in total viewers (11.3 million to 10 million for ABC), while ABC and Fox tied among persons 12-34 (2.1/7).

Sunday’s telecast of the American Music Awards was the week’s No. 1 entertainment program among young adults (5.5/14 in adults 18-49, 14.24 million viewers overall), logging the show’s best numbers in various categories in five or more years. The strong perf edged out the previous week’s Country Music Assn. Awards, which also gave the net a sweeps boost.

In the Oscars, AMAs and CMAs, ABC can claim three of the year’s top four awards shows in 18-49 (the Grammys on CBS rank second) — and all of these kudocasts were up year to year.

ABC also claimed last week’s No. 1 entertainment series in 18-49 in “Grey’s Anatomy” (5.1/13, 14.07m), which is the season’s top gainer when all DVR playback is included.

Additionally, the net had its strongest Friday since last winter courtesy of the premiere of “Shrek the Third” (1.9/6 in 18-49, 6.35m), and saw Monday sophomore drama “Castle” hit season highs (2.5/7, 10.53m).

The Alphabet has improved its weeknight 10 o’clock performance opposite NBC’s “The Jay Leno Show,” growing by more than 10% in both 18-49 and total viewers vs. last November.

CBS highlights included strong numbers for comedies, first with Monday’s trio of “How I Met Your Mother” (3.4/9 in 18-49, 8.16m), “Two and a Half Men” (4.7/12, 13.69m) and “The Big Bang Theory” (5.0/12, 13.23m) and then Wednesday with some season highs for “The New Adventures of Old Christine” (2.2/7, 7.27m) and “Gary Unmarried” (2.4/7, 7.00m).

Eye also surpassed ABC in all key measures Thursday thanks to winning scores for “Survivor” (3.8/11 in 18-49, 12.33m) and “The Mentalist” (3.7/11, 15.85m), and Sunday’s “The Amazing Race” remains potent (3.7/9, 12.19m) as it nears its finale.

NBC was led as usual by “Sunday Night Football” (6.6/17 in 18-49, 17.33m), which was once again the frame’s top draw in 18-49 and key male demos.

The net also did solid numbers for the premiere of holiday spec “Merry Madagascar” on Tuesday (2.9/8, 8.97m), which led into “The Biggest Loser” (3.7/10, 9.56m). “Loser” tied with Thursday laffer “The Office” (3.7/10, 7.39m) as the net’s top entertainment series among young adults.

“Leno” averaged a 1.52 rating in 18-49, its best in four weeks, and 4.94 million viewers overall, its best in three weeks. Its top delivery came Tuesday (1.9/6 in 18-49, 6.00m), where in 18-49 it edged past ABC’s struggling “The Forgotten” (1.8/5, 7.53m).

“House” (5.0/13 in 18-49, 12.67m) led the way for Fox, which was solid but unspectacular the remainder of the week. New shows “Glee” (3.3/9, 7.36m) and “The Cleveland Show” (3.3/8, 6.56m) continue to perform pretty well, and Thursday vet “Bones” (2.7/8, 9.88m) has overtaken ABC’s “FlashForward” for No. 2 in its Thursday hour.

Despite a fourth-place finish in the final full week of the sweep, Fox is poised to prevail in adults 18-49 after opening the ratings period with the World Series, which had never aired this late into the calendar year.

But aside from sports, the net has also formed a more balanced sked across the week, with its biggest gains coming on Thursday (with “Bones” and “Fringe”). As a result, it figures to be the season leader in 18-49 even before “American Idol” bows in January.

CW was led by “The Vampire Diaries” (1.9/5 in 18-49, 4.10m) and the season finale of “America’s Next Top Model” (1.5/4, 3.20m).

In cable, ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” was a bit below average (4.1/11, 10.20m) with its Baltimore-Cleveland matchup, but it still narrowly won the night in 18-49 and ranked among the top 10 in all primetime programs for the frame.

Week’s top cable entertainment series in 18-49 were Lifetime’s “Project Runway” finale on Thursday (1.9/6 in 18-49, 4.28m) and FX’s “Sons of Anarchy” on Tuesday (1.9/6, 3.48m).

Also, History’s five-night bow of 10-hour event “WWII in HD” averaged 2.4 million viewers, double the net’s prime average.

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