CBS wins again

Net is the ratings champ for third week in a row

CBS topped the weekly ratings for the third straight time and is now running in first place for the season, wresting the mantle from ABC, last year's fall champ.

CBS was first in the adult demo and viewers, led by Monday's "Two and a Half Men" (14.7 million viewers and a 5.3 rating/12 share in the key adults 18-49 demographic), Thursday's "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" (19.3 million, 5.2/13) and Tuesday's "NCIS" (18 million, 3.9/11), with the latter posting its best showing in nearly a year.

CBS was the lone network last week to show year-over-year growth, placing first among adults 18-49 on four nights. Plus, new Tuesday drama "The Mentalist" (14.9 million, 3.4/8) continued to perform solidly.

Weaker headlines for the network include the Friday freshman drama "The Ex-List" (6.3 million, 2.0/6) and Tuesday's water-treading procedural "Without a Trace" (11 million, 2.5/7). Also, the 27% week-over-week drop for "CSI" wasn't pretty.

ABC placed second, touting the two highest-rated shows of the week: "Grey's Anatomy" (14.8 million, 5.9/15) and "Desperate Housewives" (15.5 million, 5.7/13). After a week spent in the No. 2 spot, "Grey's" overthrew "CSI" to rule the roost. The second week of Thursday's "Life on Mars" (8.2 million, 2.5/7), however, dropped about 30%, and the return of "Eli Stone" (8.4 million, 2.2/6) on Tuesday was last in its time period.

Third-place NBC had "Heroes" (8.8 million, 4.3/10) as its highest-rated show, the Monday night drama recovering somewhat from the previous week's decline. The network's veteran series "ER" (9 million, 3.6/10) won its Thursday night period, albeit because of weakened freshman competition. The second "Saturday Night Live" primetime special (8.8 million, 4.2/10) didn't pop as strong as the first yet kept NBC competitive in a tough hour. Friday's two-hour premiere of "Crusoe" (7.4 million, 1.6/5) landed the network in third place for the evening.

Riddled with baseball pre-emptions, Fox struggled to get traction last week, with Tuesday continuing to be the network's stronghold: "House" (13.3 million, 5.3/15) and "Fringe" (9.2 million, 4.0/10) were the night's highest-rated shows. Also, the return of the network's animated comedy block performed well on Sunday night, with "Family Guy" (9 million, 4.7/10) hitting a season high.

The CW's veteran dramas, Monday's "One Tree Hill" (3.5 million, 1.7/4) and Thursday's "Smallville" (4.2 million, 1.7/5), were the network's top-rated shows, while former network titan "America's Next Top Model" (3.2 million, 1.5/4) dipped Wednesday.
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