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Fox swings for the fences -- and scores

Last week’s TV ratings were Fox’s highest in more than two years, thanks to four baseball league championship games and the first two games of the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals.

But baseball wasn’t tough enough for ABC’s “Desperate Housewives.” It beat Sunday’s Game 2 with a series record in the advertiser-friendly young-adult category, and held its own in total viewers (No. 6 for the week, with 21.5 million), according to Nielsen Media Research.

The Red Sox’s lifting of a legendary postseason curse made Wednesday’s Game 7 of the American League championship the week’s No. 1 program, averaging 31.5 million viewers.

For the week ending Oct. 24, Fox piled up a nearly 2-to-1 advantage over second-place CBS (21.8 million vs. 11.9 million), with NBC (9.6 million) and ABC (8.9 million) trailing. Fox also seized the key category of adults ages 18 to 49, with CBS and NBC tied for a distant second.

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On NBC, the sixth-season premiere of “The West Wing” (12.3 million) withered opposite the ballgame.

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Here are the rankings for national prime-time network television last week (Sept. 18-24) as compiled by Nielsen Media Research. They are based on the average number of people who watched a program from start to finish. Nielsen estimates there are 277.93 million potential viewers in the U.S. age 2 and older. Viewership is listed in millions.

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*--* 1 “MLB: ALCS, Yankees-Red Sox” (Wed.) FOX 31.46 2 CSI CBS 26.54 3 “World Series, Game 2" (Sun.) FOX 25.46 4 “MLB: ALCS, Yankees-Red Sox” (Tue.) FOX 25.09 5 “World Series, Game 1" (Sat.) FOX 23.17

6 Desperate Housewives ABC 21.49 7 “MLB: NLCS, Astros-Cardinals” (Tue.) FOX 19.81 CSI: Miami CBS 19.81 9 Survivor: Vanuatu CBS 19.22 10 Without a Trace CBS 18.49

11 “World Series, Game 2 Pre-Game” (Sun.) FOX 17.92 12 “MLB: ALCS, Yankees-Red Sox” (Mon.) FOX 17.80 13 Lost (Wed.) ABC 16.82 14 Everybody Loves Raymond CBS 16.71 15 Two and a Half Men CBS 16.28

16 ER NBC 16.11 17 Cold Case CBS 15.38 18 “Fox NFL Sunday, Post-Game” FOX 15.09 19 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition ABC 15.00 20 60 Minutes CBS 14.70

21 Apprentice 2 NBC 14.59 22 NCIS CBS 14.05 23 Law & Order NBC 13.07 24 Law & Order: SVU NBC 12.62 25 Law & Order: Criminal Intent NBC 12.40

26 The West Wing NBC 12.27 27 Crossing Jordan NBC 11.69 Joey NBC 11.69 29 Monday Night Football ABC 11.51 30 Fear Factor NBC 11.40

31 CSI (Wed.) CBS 11.09 32 Las Vegas NBC 11.01 33 Will & Grace NBC 10.95 34 Boston Legal ABC 10.82 35 Judging Amy CBS 10.14

36 Still Standing CBS 10.02 37 Wife Swap ABC 9.96 38 Biggest Loser NBC 9.90 39 According to Jim ABC 9.75 40 CSI: Miami (Wed.) CBS 9.60

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41 Listen Up CBS 9.50 42 Third Watch NBC 9.47 43 “The Dead Will Tell” CBS 9.19 44 Rodney ABC 8.93 45 Dateline: NBC (Fri.) NBC 8.59

George Lopez ABC 8.59 47 My Wife and Kids ABC 8.58 48 NYPD Blue ABC 8.43 49 The Bachelor ABC 8.36 50 Scrubs NBC 8.17

51 “Genius: Night for Ray Charles” CBS 8.08 52 Medical Investigation NBC 8.06 53 America’s Funniest Home Videos ABC 7.94 54 Dr. Vegas CBS 7.75 55 Crimetime Saturday CBS 7.69

56 60 Minutes (Wed.) CBS 7.62 57 NFL Monday Showcase ABC 7.57 58 Clubhouse CBS 7.55 59 20/20 (Fri.) ABC 7.53 60 Joan of Arcadia CBS 7.51

61 Desperate Housewives (Sat.) ABC 7.14 Law & Order: SVU (Sat.) NBC 7.14 63 Dateline: NBC (Sun.) NBC 7.01 64 Cold Case (Sat.) CBS 6.75 65 American Dreams NBC 6.61

7th Heaven WB 6.61 67 Lost (Sat., 9 p.m.) ABC 6.46 68 8 Simple Rules ABC 6.38 Hope & Faith ABC 6.38 70 The West Wing (8 p.m.) NBC 6.34

71 LAX NBC 6.11 72 48 Hours Mystery CBS 5.99 73 Less Than Perfect ABC 5.84 74 Complete Savages ABC 5.82 75 Gilmore Girls WB 5.64

76 Extreme Makeover ABC 5.44 77 Smallville WB 5.41 78 America’s Next Top Model UPN 5.07 79 Lost (Sat., 8 p.m.) ABC 4.93 80 Primetime Live ABC 4.89

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81 Reba WB 4.81 82 WWE Smackdown! UPN 4.58 83 Reba (9:30 p.m.) WB 4.53 84 One Tree Hill WB 4.50 85 America’s Most Wanted FOX 4.32

86 World’s Craziest Videos FOX 4.19 Girlfriends UPN 4.19 88 Kevin Hill UPN 3.93 89 Life as We Know It ABC 3.91 90 The Benefactor ABC 3.84

91 Eve UPN 3.82 Totally Outrageous Behavior FOX 3.82 93 Half and Half UPN 3.74 94 Biggest Loser (Sat.) NBC 3.70 95 Blue Collar TV WB 3.66

96 One On One UPN 3.62 All of Us UPN 3.62 98 Second Time Around UPN 3.45 99 Everwood WB 3.39 Charmed WB 3.39

101 Enterprise UPN 3.16 102 Veronica Mars UPN 3.12 103 Drew Carey’s Green Screen WB 2.81 104 Apprentice 2 (Sat.) NBC 2.69 105 Grounded for Life WB 2.62

106 What I Like About You WB 2.43 107 Steve Harvey’s Big Time WB 2.20 108 Mountain WB 2.13 109 America’s Next Top Model (Fri.) UPN 1.94 110 Jack & Bobby WB 1.63

111 Charmed (Thu.) WB 1.62

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Network averages

Here is the number of viewers (in millions) that each network averaged per hour of prime time, for last week and for the season.

*--* Network Last week Season to date FOX 21.95 11.15

CBS 11.94 12.88

NBC 9.60 9.99

ABC 8.86 9.87

UPN 3.76 3.53

WB 3.61 3.97

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