Fox makes a run for it

Sunday sports power network to demo victory

Boosted by early Sunday evening sports coverage, Fox edged out competitors to top last week in the Nielsen ratings.

NFL overrun and the "BCS Selection Show" (10.5 million viewers, 4.1 rating/11 share in the key adults 18-49 demographic) spiked Fox's weekly average, though the network also had help from its original programming. The two-episode premiere of "Secret Millionaire" (8 million, 3.0/8 at 9 p.m.) gave the network an unexpected boost Wednesday night, while Tuesday's top-rated "House" (12.5 million, 5.0/14) continued to perform strongly.

CBS and ABC tied for second place in the demo right behind Fox, with CBS touting the highest total-viewer tally for the week.

CBS' weekly highlights include Tuesday night's "The Mentalist" (18.7 million, 3.8/9) becoming the first freshman series to rank No. 1 in viewers since ABC's "Desperate Housewives" in 2005 and marked the first time the procedural drew a larger audience than its "NCIS" (18.5 million, 3.7/10) lead-in. The network was also well served by Wednesday's annual "Victoria's Secret Fashion Show" (8.7 million, 3.6/10), which won its 10 p.m. hour.

ABC benefited from "Barbara Walters Presents the Ten Most Fascinating People" (13.2 million, 4.2/11) dominating its time slot Thursday night, along with the return of holiday specials "Shrek the Halls" (11.1 million, 3.3/9) and "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (11.4 million, 3.8/9) aiding Monday. For the fifth straight week, ABC had the highest-rated scripted series with Sunday's "Desperate Housewives" (16.1 million, 6.0/14).

In third, NBC's Thursday comedy "The Office" (8.5 million, 4.4/11) was the network's highest-rated scripted series, while Monday's "Heroes" (8 million, 3.6/9) continues to hold steady. The network was led by "Sunday Night Football," which pitted the Washington Redskins against the Baltimore Ravens (13.3 million, 5.0/12).

The CW's new Sunday repeat lineup continues to post gains over its previous block, while "Gossip Girl" (3.1 million, 1.5/4) rated as the network's top-ranked show. MyNetworkTV had its best week ever, tying the CW in the adult demo.

For the week, Fox averaged 7.7 million viewers and a 2.9 rating/8 share in the demo, followed by CBS (10.9 million, 2.8/8), ABC (8.6 million, 2.8/8), NBC (7.5 million, 2.6/7), MyNetTV (2 million, 0.6/2) and the CW (1.7 million, 0.6/1.7).