ABC's 'Shrek' special bests 'Grinch,' more


NEW YORK -- A half-hour "Shrek the Halls" holiday special was anything but ugly for ABC, scoring by far the night's highest adults 18-49 rating that even the perennial "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" couldn't match.

"Shrek" averaged 21.1 million viewers and a 7.2 rating/20 share in adults 18-49, according to preliminary estimates released by Nielsen Media Research. The special, along with "Grinch" (18.7 million, 6.8/17), gave ABC a wide-margin victory on the last night of the November sweeps.

"Shrek" and "Grinch" combined to give the other holiday standby, NBC's "Christmas at Rockefeller Center" (9 million, 2.0/5), its lowest-ever rating in adults 18-49, and it was down 23% compared with a year ago's 2.6/7.

CBS came in second in adults 18-49 and narrowly won in viewership, thanks to "Criminal Minds" (16.3 million, 4.5/11) that came in ahead at 9 p.m. over ABC's "Pushing Daisies" (10.2 million, 3.8/9) as well as NBC's "Bionic Woman" (6 million, 2.2/5). It was the highest viewership and demo rating for "Criminal Minds" since Feb. 7.

"Daisies" clearly got a boost from the holiday specials and was up over its season-to-date average; "Bionic Woman" dropped to its lowest adults 18-49 rating. Fox won its highest adults 18-49 ratings so far this season for "Kitchen Nightmares" (7 million, 3.3/8).

Meanwhile, CBS took the 10 p.m. hour with "CSI: NY" (14 million, 4.1/11) ahead of ABC's "Dirty Sexy Money" (7.1 million, 2.6/7) and NBC's "Life" (6.3 million, 2.2/6). ABC (12.4 million, 4.5/11) led the night in adults 18-49 over CBS (12.5 million, 3.5/9); NBC (7.1 million, 3.5/9); Fox (6.5 million, 2.8/7); and the CW (4 million, 1.9/6).