Net stops CBS winning streak in primetime

It may have lost its head-to-head showdown with football on Sunday, but the World Series still had enough pull to carry Fox to a demo victory for the week.

The net, which aired four games of the Fall Classic and also benefited from a Sunday NFL overrun, easily won the week in adults 18-49 and 25-54 while also prevailing in total viewers — sweeping the categories that CBS had carried for the first five weeks of the season.

It was a big week overall for sports, as “Sunday Night Football” on NBC and “Monday Night Football” on ESPN claimed the top two spots in 18-49 rankings, and Tuesday’s NBA season opener on TNT set a record and cracked the week’s top 20.

The “SNF” matchup between the New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers averaged a 7.3 rating/19 share in adults 18-49 and 18.11 million viewers overall opposite Game 4 of the Fall Classic on Fox between the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers (4.3/11, 15.54m). While the gap in total viewers wasn’t that significant, football held sizable advantages in 18-49 (70%, 7.3 vs. 4.3) and 12-34 (73%, 5.2 vs. 3.0).

This marked the first time that NBC’s high-rated pigskin franchise has faced off against the World Series, with the NFL traditionally conceding the night to America’s pastime. But with pro football at decades-high ratings levels, the league felt it had an ideal matchup — two teams wearing black, on Halloween, in New Orleans, and hailing from cities that aren’t baseball bastions — to give it a shot for the first time.As for the five-game World Series, clinched by the Giants in Game 5 on Monday of the current week, Fox averaged a 4.0/12 in 18-49 and 14.2 million viewers overall — down about 25% in viewership vs. last year (New York Yankees-Philadelphia Phillies) but up from the 2008 Tampa-Philadelphia series (13.6 million). The top-rated game was the opener on Wednesday (4.7/14, 15.01m).

Overall for the Oct. 25-31 frame, according to Nielsen’s same-night viewing estimates, Fox’s 3.7 rating/11 share in adults 18-49 towered over ABC and CBS (both at 2.6/7), which were followed by NBC (2.3/7), Univision (1.8/5) and top cabler ESPN (1.6/5). CBS was the runner-up to Fox in both adults 25-54 (3.5 vs. 4.3) and total viewers (11 million vs. 12 million).

Aside from sports, Fox was led by Tuesday’s “Glee” (4.9/13, 11.76m), which was the week’s No. 4 program (and No. 2 entertainment series) in 18-49.

At CBS, “The Big Bang Theory” (4.2/13 in 18-49, 13.04m) was Thursday’s top series in 18-49 for a second straight week, while Tuesday drama vet “NCIS” (4.1/11, 20.18m) hit a season high in total viewers, becoming the first scripted series to top 20 million in same-night viewing.

Overall, the net still possesses the season’s top three new series in 18-49 and the top five in total viewers, led by “Hawaii Five-0.”

ABC continues to see growth for its Wednesday comedy block, as Halloween-themed segs of “The Middle” (2.9/9, 9.54m), “Better With You” (2.5/7, 7.67m) and “Modern Family” (5.1/14, 13.14m) all matched or set series highs, and “Cougar Town” (3.3/9, 8.16m) grew for a fourth straight week. Plus Monday drama “Castle” (2.9/8, 11.32m) moved ahead of CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0″ (3.8/8, 10.23m) in 18-49 for the first time.

On the downside, new dramas “No Ordinary Family” (2.0/5, 7.38m) and “The Whole Truth” (1.1/3, 4.40m) continued their declines, with the latter since canceled.

NBC’s highlight was its Thursday comedy block, which got a nice assist from the holiday spec “Scared Shrekless” (2.6/8, 8.33m), which led into improved scores for “Community” at a special time (2.4/7, 5.63m) and “The Office” (4.0/11, 8.07m), which led its half-hour in 18-49.

Not clicking for the net is Friday leadoff hitter “School Pride” (0.6/2 in 18-49, 2.32m), while rookie Monday drama “Chase” looked shaky (1.3/4, 4.89m).

CW was led by “Vampire Diaries” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 3.55m), and Univision by Friday’s grand finale of “Hasta Que el Dinero Nos Separe” (For Love or Money), whose 2.5/9 in 18-49 led all networks on the night.

Cable was paced by the “Monday Night Football” matchup between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys, which matched or set the franchise’s season-best results (7.1/20 in 18-49, 17.95m). And the next night, the leadoff game of TNT’s opening-night doubleheader (Miami Heat vs. the Boston Celtics) set records for a regular-season game on cable (3.3/9, 7.35m).

And among entertainment programs, notable performers included AMC’s premiere of “Walking Dead” on Sunday (2.7/7, 5.35m), History’s “Pawn Stars” on Monday (2.0/5, 4.87m) and MTV’s “Jersey Shore Reunion” on Thursday (1.8/5, 3.34m).

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