World Series nail-biter dominates Thursday ratings

A World Series game for the ages, in which the St. Louis Cardinals staved off elimination with an 11-inning walk-off victory on Fox, was easily the top ratings draw on the opening night of the November sweep Thursday. CBS ran second, while ABC’s femme-friendly lineup held up well, with “Grey’s Anatomy” the evening’s top-rated drama in key demos .

The winner-take-all Game 7 of the World Series is scheduled for this evening, and while Friday is not typically a high viewing night, an audience of 30 million or more is a real possibility. Among the shows that will suffer in its wake are NBC’s premieres of veteran “Chuck” and newcomer “Grimm.”

The preliminary, affiliate-based Nielsen estimates aren’t very reliable since the game extended well past midnight in the East, but Fox’s stations averaged a 5.8 rating/15 share in adults 18-49 and 19.7 million viewers overall from 8 to 11 p.m. — making it easily the highest rated games of this year’s Fall Classic. Fox should win the night in all key demos — both male and female — as well as total viewers.

Tonight’s contest will mark the first time in nine years that the World Series needed a seventh game to determine its winner. In 2002, the Game 7 between the Anaheim Angels and San Francisco Giants drew 30.8 million viewers (on a Sunday).

Elsewhere, CBS again claimed the night’s top entertainment series in “The Big Bang Theory” (4.5/13 in 18-49, 14.3 million viewers overall) and remained the top non-sports choice at 8:30 p.m. with “Rules of Engagement” (3.4/9 in 18-49, 10.8 million viewers overall) — though both shows, which garner a good portion of their audience from men, were down week to week. Similarly, rookie drama “Person of Interest” dipped at 9 (2.6/6 in 18-49, 11.5 million viewers overall) but the more femme-friendly “The Mentalist” held steady week to week (2.5/6 in 18-49, 12.2 million viewers overall).

ABC was on the rise, as its annual Halloween special “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” (2.3/6 in 18-49, 7.4 million viewers overall) roughly doubled what “Charlie’s Angels” did in the demo last week. That may have helped 9 p.m. veteran “Grey’s Anatomy” (3.7/9 in 18-49, 9.8 million viewers overall), which was up a bit week to week and was the night’s No. 1 drama in 18-49 and 25-54 (4.3/10). And at 10, “Private Practice” (2.4/6 in 18-49, 6.6 million viewers overall) was up a tick week to week, though that is subject to revision in the nationals since its score includes a two-minute overrun from “Grey’s.”

NBC, which like CBS counts on men for a good portion of its Thursday audience, was below average with “Community” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 3.5 million viewers overall), “Parks and Recreation” (1.8/5 in 18-49, 3.9 million viewers overall), “The Office” (2.8/7 in 18-49, 5.5 million viewers overall) and “Whitney” (2.1/5 in 18-49, 4.3 million viewers overall), though “Whitney” was up a tick from its low of two weeks ago and retained an improved percentage of its “Office” lead-in. There was no bump, meanwhile, at 10 p.m. for “Prime Suspect” (1.2/3 in 18-49, 4.1 million viewers overall), which was down a tick from its most recent original and has now declined four straight times following its sluggish series premiere; the Peacock had hoped to generate more interest in the struggling cop drama by airing multiple repeats of the show during the past week.

At CW, “The Vampire Diaries” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 3.2 million viewers overall) and “The Secret Circle” (1.0/2 in 18-49, 2.3 million viewers overall) — two shows that figured to thrive on Halloween week — grew by a tick in adults 18-34. “Vampire” was competitive with the major nets in its hour among females 12-34 (2.1/6) and hit a season high in total viewers.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 5.8/15; CBS, 3.0/8; ABC, 2.8/7; NBC, 1.7/4; Univision, 1.6/4; CW, 1.2/3.

In total viewers: Fox, 19.7 million; CBS, 12.1 million; ABC, 7.9 million; NBC, 4.2 million; Univision, 3.7 million; CW, 2.7 million.

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