'Simpsons' a treat for Fox

Holiday staple nets series' best ratings since '04

Fox's annual "Treehouse of Horror" episode of "The Simpsons" gave the animated comedy its best rating for a regular episode in nearly five years.

"Simpsons" was seen by 12.5 million viewers and received a 6.2 preliminary rating among adults 18-49. That provided a tentpole for the network's Sunday night lineup and marked Fox's highest-rated nonsports telecast this season.

"King of the Hill" (8.6 million viewers, 4.3 rating), "Family Guy" (10 million, 5.0) and "American Dad" (7.2 million, 3.7) likewise posted season-high numbers. Fox's lineup was aided by an NFL overrun in the 7 p.m. hour.

Fox won the evening in the preliminary ratings, beating NBC's "Sunday Night Football" (14.2 million, 5.3), which featured Indianapolis vs. New England, which was up 60% from the modestly rated Seattle-Tampa Bay game two weeks ago. The overall Fox vs. NBC horse race could change in the nationals today, though Fox expects "Simpsons" to remain the night's highest-rated program.

ABC was third with on-par numbers for "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (11.7 million, 3.8), "Desperate Housewives" (15.8 million, 5.8) and "Brothers & Sisters" (9.7 million, 3.4).

That left CBS to fall to fourth place, the odd man out against steeper competition. "The Amazing Race" (9.8 million, 2.8) hit a season low, while "Cold Case" (11.6 million, 2.6) and "The Unit" (9.0 million, 2.3) declined from last week. In the 7 p.m. hour, "60 Minutes" (14.4 million, 2.7) performed well considering that it lacked a football lead-in.

The CW's MRC block, after rising last week, fell back to its previous lows, averaging 750,000 viewers and a 0.2 rating for the evening. (partialdiff)
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