Sunday's 'Housewives' no disaster for ABC


NEW YORK -- Led by a surging "Desperate Housewives," ABC took the first December Sunday in primetime in viewership and the key adults 18-49 demographic.

A tornado-devastated Wisteria Lane brought ABC a ratings whirlwind, beating the NFL and a "Hallmark Hall of Fame" movie on CBS plus a repeat "Family Guy" over on Fox. "Housewives" averaged 20.6 million viewers and a 7.7 rating/17 share in adults 18-49, according to preliminary estimates released Monday by Nielsen Media Research. Final data will be released Tuesday with the weekly ratings.

It was the best viewership and ratings for "Housewives" since Nov. 26, 2006, as well as up week-to-week.

ABC won the 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. hours as well, with "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (14.5 million, 4.9/11) at 8 and "Brothers & Sisters" (12.7 million, 4.8/12) at 10 p.m. Fox prevailed between 8 and 8:30 p.m., however, with the BCS Selection Show (10.8 million, 4.3/10).

The Bowl Championship Series show was helped by 16.1 million viewers and a 6.0/16 for NFL overrun to Fox between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., though it didn't do as well as last year that generated a 5.4 rating atop the Cowboys-Giants 11.4 rating in the late afternoon.

Football wasn't nearly as popular on NBC this week as it was for last week's exciting Eagles-Patriots game, with this week's "Sunday Night Football" averaging 12.6 million viewers and a 4.9/11 compared with last week's 8.6/20.

CBS had rough sledding all night with "60 Minutes" (14 million, 2.9/8), "Amazing Race" (11.2 million, 3.4/8) and the movie "Pictures of Hollis Woods" (11.4 million, 2.2/5) that was down 27% compared with the season average in the time period with the "Cold Case" and "Shark" scripted dramas.

ABC (13.9 million, 4.9/12) won primetime over CBS (12 million, 2.7/6); NBC (10.9 million, 4.1/10); Fox (10.4 million, 4.3/10); and the CW (1.1 million, 0.4/1).