Just over five weeks into the new season, ABC continues to lead the broadcast networks among adults 18 to 49, with CBS a close second and NBC third.
Fox and The CW, however, made some significant gains last week, with Fox getting a boost (albeit less than expected) from the World Series, and a few CW series enjoying season highs.
Thus far the series is tracking as the least-watched ever with an average 15.7 million viewers, but it still managed to shake up the competition on several nights. Last Thursday, Fox’s World Series coverage, which took up most of its prime time, drove the network to an evening average 4.5 demo rating, leading all networks for the night, according to final Nielsen Media Research figures, which include live-plus-same-day viewing. Fox was followed by a neck-and-neck ABC (4.1) and CBS (4.0) for Thursday. Fox’s World Series game itself garnered a 5.1.
Thursday on ABC, “Ugly Betty” had a 4.2, the show’s lowest rating to date, but lead-out “Grey’s Anatomy” (4.5) being a rerun might have something to do with it. On CBS a “Survivor” clip show (4.2) was the lowest-rated episode in the series’ history. The CW’s “Smallville” delivered a season-high 2.2.
On Wednesday, the World Series Game 3 rainout cancellation left Fox in an unexpectedly soggy last place for the evening. Fox programmed a “War at Home” marathon and left the door open for ABC to take its usual victory lap, garnering a 5.1 rating among viewers 18 to 49 for the night. “Dancing” stomped all competitors with its results show (5.1) in the 8 p.m. hour, delivering the series’ highest rating of the season.
Next up was “Lost,” bouncing back 8 percent to a 7.1 after a season-low episode last week to reclaim its usual first-place position, then “The Nine,” which posted its lowest rating to date, a 2.9.
On NBC, “30 Rock” dropped yet again this week to a season-low 2.2, which does not bode well for the show’s upcoming switch to Thursdays. “20 Good Years” was about even with the prior week with a 2.0.
CBS’s “Criminal Minds” drew a record-high 4.4.
For Tuesday, the World Series gave Fox just enough boost to best ABC. Fox earned a 4.4 to win the night, while ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” still had enough orbital pull to garner a close second. Game 3 garnered a 4.8 in the demo. ABC’s “Dancing” earned a 5.4.
Over to third-place NBC, the critically acclaimed freshman drama “Friday Night Lights” essentially matched its season-to-date average with a 2.6.
Elsewhere The CW had some good news with “Veronica Mars” (1.5) posting its second-best delivery to date.
Monday’s story was once again the yin-yang fortunes of NBC’s freshman dramas “Heroes” and “Studio 60,” with the former climbing to its best numbers yet (6.3) and the latter continuing to struggle (3.2). Along with “Deal or No Deal” (4.5) at 8 p.m., the shows helped NBC win the night with a 4.6-but just barely.
CBS was a close second with a 4.5 with its comedy block and “CSI: Miami” (6.1). Among the sitcoms, “How I Met Your Mother” (3.6) and “The New Adventures of Old Christine” (3.9) performed well, and “Two and a Half Men” won its time slot (4.7), but “The Class” proved the weak link, dropping for the third consecutive week, to a 2.9.
Some shows might have been impacted by ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” which posted season-high numbers (6.3) for the New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys match.
Thanks to World Series Game 2, Fox enjoyed a rare Sunday night victory, easily besting the ABC lineup that has dominated the night so far this season. The game drew a 5.9 rating and gave Fox the same average for the night, topping ABC’s 5.3. ABC’s Sunday anchor, “Desperate Housewives,” saw its second-lowest viewership to date for an original episode (8.1). On CBS’s procedural block of “Cold Case” and “Without a Trace,” both shows earned a 4.3, helping to place the network in third place. “Cold Case” drew its highest audience this season. NBC counterprogrammed against the World Series with a “Heroes” marathon, rerunning the second (2.3), third (2.4) and fourth (2.6) episodes of the breakout series.
On Saturday, Game 1 of the World Series was the top-rated program for the night (3.6) and gave Fox a nightly win.
Going into Friday night, the second episode of NBC’s “1 vs. 100” game show held most of the viewers that made it the top show last week and gave NBC a narrow victory over CBS. Once again, the program won the night with a 3.7 rating. While that was a 12 percent drop from the show’s premiere, the new game show attracted a larger audience than its lead-in, “Deal or No Deal,” which garnered a 2.9.