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ABC’s ‘Desperate’ surge nearly wins

Eye holds off ABC 'Desperate' ratings bid

Record ratings by “Desperate Housewives” nearly helped ABC steal last week’s primetime ratings race, but CBS emerged with another victory in key demographics.

Getting a nice assist from an NFL overrun that spilled into the first half-hour of Sunday primetime, CBS edged a charging ABC for the week’s adults 18-49 crown (4.2/11 vs. 4.1/11) while also prevailing by more comfortable margins in adults 25-54 (5.1/12) and total viewers (13.91 million), according to Nielsen Media Research.

CBS has now captured six of the first 10 weeks this season in 18-49 — more victories than in it had the two previous seasons combined.

The Eye was up 11% vs. the same week a year ago in 18-49, while ABC was up an even more impressive 28% thanks to the scorching-hot “Desperate Housewives,” whose 12.5 rating/26 share in adults 18-49 and 27.24 million viewers overall made it easily the week’s No. 1 program.

In fact, no telecast since the night of the “Friends” finale on NBC seven months ago has garnered a larger 18-49 aud than Sunday’s seg of the smash dramedy. And episodes of “Desperate” rank as the season’s three highest-rated programs in adults 18-34.

Also for ABC, which won the week in adults 18-34 (3.4/10), dramas “Boston Legal” and “NYPD Blue” hit season highs, as did rookie comedy “Rodney” (3.9/9 in 18-49, 10.48m).

Net also ruled Saturday with college football’s matchup between No. 1-rated USC and Notre Dame (3.4/10 in 18-49, 10.09m).

On the down side, once-hot reality franchise “The Bachelor” ended its current edition with easily its lowest finale scores to date (3.8/11 in 18-49, 10.02m), although it still led its two-hour Wednesday slot in most demos.

At CBS, Thanksgiving festivities muted the ratings for Thursday heavyweights “CSI” and “Survivor: Vanuatu,” but both shows still easily led their timeslots as the net made a clean sweep of November Thursdays in adults 18-49 and other categories.

Monday’s “Two and a Half Men” (6.8/15 in 18-49, 18.94m) and Saturday’s “48 Hours” (2.6/7 in 18-49, 9.26m) hit season highs, and “The Amazing Race” set the pace in its Tuesday hour (4.7/12, 11.46m).

Peacock wings clipped

Third-place NBC was unspectacular, landing only one show in the top 10 among adults 18-49, Tuesday’s “Law & Order: SVU” (6.0/16, 15.20m). Providing a boost were the second-best scores of fall for “Fear Factor” (5.0/12 in 18-49, 12.13m) and Wednesday’s Tim McGraw concert spec (3.7/11 in 18-49, 10.61m).

A clear disappointment was Sunday’s premiere of musical “A Christmas Carol” (2.7/6 in 18-49, 8.88m), which was trounced by ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” and came in behind CBS’ competing holiday telepic “When Angels Come to Town” (3.2/8 in 18-49, 13.70m).

Fox got a boost from such theatrical premieres as “Spider-Man” on Thursday (3.6/10 in 18-49, 10.37m) and “Men in Black 2” on Saturday (3.2/9, 8.12m) but remained well behind in fourth for the week.

UPN and the WB tied for fifth for the week in adults 18-34 (1.4/4), with both down a tick vs. the same frame a year ago.

UPN’s “Veronica Mars” (1.2/3 in 18-49, 2.76m) matched or set some demo highs, and the net’s “America’s Next Top Model” (2.1/6 in 18-49, 4.54m) led its Wednesday hour in women 18-34 (3.7/11).

The WB grabbed a sizable aud for its first original movie, “Samantha: An American Girl Holiday” (Daily Variety, Nov. 29), and ninth-year family drama “7th Heaven” (2.7/7 in 18-49, 7.52m) ranked fifth among all primetime shows for the week in femmes 12-34 (5.5/16) with its best ratings in more than a year.

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