Mostly bitter sweep

Fox, CBS share wins, but b'cast ratings slide

Fox and CBS will split a May sweep victory, with Fox in the lead among adults 18-49 and CBS reclaiming the total viewers mantle after weeks of falling behind post-strike.

With the sweep concluding today, Fox ranks No. 1 with a 3.3 rating in the demo, down 11%, followed by ABC (3.1, -18%), CBS (2.8, -13%), NBC (1.9, -27%) and the CW (1.1, -15).

The only network not showing declines is fledgling broadcaster MyNetworkTV (0.5, +25%).

For Fox, this represents the network's fourth consecutive May demo victory, including its largest margin of victory yet. The total viewers win for CBS is its sixth in a row.

For the week ending May 18, Fox also won (3.5 rating), taking the lead over ABC (3.1), CBS (2.6), NBC (1.9) and the CW (1.1).

The week was punctuated by several shows wrapping up a difficult season. The two-hour finale of "Desperate Housewives" (16.8 million viewers, 6.2 rating/16 share in adults 18-49) rebounded from its previous week to top Sunday. Competition included CBS' presentation of the 43rd annual Academy of Country Music Awards (11.7 million, 2.9/8), which was up 9% from last year's airing in a tougher time period yet nonetheless represented the only major awards show to not have a ratings decline this year.

On Friday, "Moonlight" (7.5 million, 1.8/6) wrapped its first and only season on CBS, hitting a series low in the process.

Thursday's finales were a mixed bag. ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" (15.6 million, 6.1/15) won the night despite a series low, while "Ugly Betty" (8.5 million, 2.7/8) grew to its best number since January because of CBS' "Survivor: Micronesia" being off the board this week. NBC's "ER" (8.4 million, 3.3/9) also had its best post-strike performance, while the one-hour "The Office" (8.3 million, 4.2/10) finale gave the show its highest number in a month.

On Wednesday, the finale of Fox's canceled comedy "Back to You" (7.1 million, 2.5/7) outperformed renewed comedy " 'Til Death" (5.9 million, 2.2/7).

Tuesday's "American Idol" showed some rare week-to-week growth (25 million, 9.0/25), up 7%, with "Hell's Kitchen" (11.3 million, 5.1/13) flat.

For Monday, NBC's "American Gladiators" (5 million, 1.9/5) returned to a surprisingly low rating.

Spears' second guest appearance on "How I Met Your Mother" (8.9 million, 3.8/10) showed diminishing returns, only boosting the comedy by 6%. (partialdiff)