'Heroes' swoops in for peacock

NBC wins the week in 18-49; CBS takes three nights

Helped by the last "Heroes" for a while and a strong New Orleans Saints-Dallas Cowboys matchup on "Sunday Night Football," NBC pulled out a win in the adults 18-49 demographic while CBS took a 12th consecutive week in viewership.

NBC was strong on Sunday and Monday nights and showed signs of life with its Thursday night comedy block, all in the adults 18-49 demo, while CBS locked up Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights. The results were affected by the fact that two ratings champs, "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy," weren't original last week. "Housewives" wasn't on the air at all, and "Grey's" was easily trounced by "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" on Thursday night. That gave usually high-flying ABC the lowest adults 18-49 rating (2.9) of any of the Big Three networks this season, according to Nielsen Media Research data for the week ending Dec. 10.

Without a new "Grey's," "CSI" (23.5 million, 7.8/19) found itself at the top of the viewership heap for the week, though the Cowboys-Saints game (19.9 million, 8.0/20) pulled a bigger number in adults 18-49.

NBC ruled Monday with "Heroes" (14.9 million, 6.5/15) and "Deal or No Deal" (17.4 million, 5.1/14) more than offsetting the continued decline of "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" (7.3 million, 2.9/8). Nothing else could get much traction Monday, with CBS in repeats across the night and a lackluster performance by ABC, with only "Supernanny" (9.6 million, 3.8/9) getting anything in the demo. Fox averaged 6.1 million viewers and a 2.7/7 for the Billboard Music Awards, which were broadcast live from Las Vegas.

Fox won Tuesday with a repeat of "House" (11.8 million, 4.6/12), which overshadowed ABC's sitcoms "Big Day" and "Help Me Help You," which crashed despite getting a sizable lead-in from time-tested "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" (11 million, 3.8/11). "House" was the top show in both key audience measures.

Wednesday went to CBS, which was highlighted by the return of "The King of Queens," which aired twice with 9.4 million and a 3.2/9 at 8 p.m. and a 10.2 million and a 3.6/10 at 8:30 p.m. "Criminal Minds" and "CSI: NY," while both repeats, gave CBS the win for the night. "Criminal Minds" (13.8 million, 3.9/10) was one of only three shows — all on CBS — to pass 10 million in viewers. The CW also had its strongest night yet, with "America's Next Top Model" (6.2 million, 3.0/9) finishing its latest season.

ABC didn't put up much of a fight Thursday, with "Ugly Betty" (8.7 million, 2.7/7) and "Grey's" (10.5 million, 4.0/10) in repeats. That gave "CSI" the resounding win, which carried CBS to the win for the night along with "Survivor" (15.7 million, 5.3/15). "ER" (12 million, 5.5/14) was down but still beat "Shark" (14 million, 4.2/11) in the demo.

CBS took Friday night in the adults 18-49 demo as well as viewership with two hours of tried-and-true Christmas favorites "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (12.9 million, 4.5/12) and "Frosty the Snowman" (12.7 million, 4.5/13), although NBC's "Law & Order" (10.2 million, 3.2/10) overpowered "Numbers" (7.6 million, 2.3/7) at 10 p.m.

Sunday night was highlighted by the NFL, but CBS had bright spots with a top five finish for "60 Minutes" (15.8 million, 3.8/10) plus a season high in viewership for "The Amazing Race" (12.7 million, 4.1/9). ABC replaced "Housewives" with an "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (14.2 million, 5.2/12), which didn't help "Brothers & Sisters" (10.4 million, 3.9/10).

Weekly averages in viewership: ABC, 8.4 million; CBS, 11.7 million; NBC, 10.2 million; Fox, 6.1 million; and CW, 3.6 million. Weekly averages in adults 18-49: ABC, 2.9/8; CBS, 3.5/10; NBC, 3.8/10; Fox, 2.4/6; and CW, 1.4/4.
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