Split decision in 18-49 with 'Dancing,' 'House'

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NEW YORK -- Helio Castroneves' racing past Marie Osmond to win "Dancing With the Stars" gave ABC just enough juice to win the night in adults 18-49, though Fox's "House" topped it head-to-head.

The two-hour "Dancing" finale averaged 24.9 million viewers and a 6.4 rating/15 share in the adults 18-49 demographic, according to preliminary estimates released Wednesday by Nielsen Media Research. That was far and away the most-watched show in broadcast primetime, but Fox's medical drama "House" (16.9 million, 7.0/16) was the night's top show in adults 18-49.

The "Dancing" finale was up 9% in viewership and down 4% in adults 18-49 compared with May while down 9% in viewership and down 10% in adults 18-49 compared with last November's finale. It was the lowest demo rating in the series' five cycles.

ABC warmed up with an 8 p.m. win in adults 18-49 with the old standby "Charlie Brown Christmas" (13.6 million, 4.6/12), which beat "NCIS" (17 million, 3.3/9) and "Bones" (9.6 million, 3.4/9) plus the first hour of "The Biggest Loser" (7.2 million, 3.1/8).

Even against the "Dancing" onslaught, NBC's "Law & Order: SVU" (12.3 million, 4.6/12) got its highest demo rating in five weeks. "Cane" (6.5 million, 1.6/4) fell from last week's 2.0/5.

ABC (21.1 million, 5.8/14) won the night in viewership and adults 18-49 over CBS (11.3 million, 2.6/6); NBC (8.9 million, 3.6/9); Fox (13.2 million, 5.2/13); and the CW (2.4 million, 1.1/3).
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