ABC's Grey's Anatomy will stay put on Super Bowl Sunday.
The growing second-season hit, part of the network's formidable Sunday lineup, will air a special episode February 5, after ABC's broadcast of Super Bowl XL.
For the second consecutive time, ABC picks a Sunday sophomore drama with a female lead to run in the coveted post-Super Bowl slot. In 2003, the network's Alias landed the spot but stumbled in the ratings after a late start in the East.
Grey's Super Bowl assignment comes after the medical drama passed a key physical on Sunday, posting a big viewership spike at 10 p.m. coming out of a repeat of Desperate Housewives. Grey's finished out as the most-watched program of the night with an average of 17.1 million viewers and a 7.6 rating/20 share in the adult 18-49 demographic, according to preliminary estimates from Nielsen Media Research. The 9 p.m. airing of Housewives (14.8 million, 5.7/13) delivered a more than healthy audience for a repeat but dipped slightly from its 8 p.m. lead-in, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (16.8 million, 6.8/16).
CBS didn't scare up much business with its Halloween-themed 9-11 p.m. TV movie Vampire Bats (7.1 million, 2.4/6).
With lighter competition from Housewives, NBC was better off than usual in the 9 p.m. hour, even with a repeat of Law & Order: Criminal Intent (13.8 million, 4.3/10). The network's 10 p.m. original of Crossing Jordan (12.5 million, 3.7/9) couldn't keep up with Grey's at 8 p.m. NBC's The West Wing (8.7 million, 2.4/6) also was overshadowed by ABC's Home Edition and CBS' Cold Case (13.6 million, 3.2/7).
Fox started the night with an NFL overrun, then segued into repeats, highlighted by the 8 p.m. encore of The Simpsons (9.2 million, 4.6/11).
For the night, ABC was number one, as usual, with an average of 14.8 million viewers and a 5.8/14 in the key demo.