Sweeps: ABC tops, NBC not last

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Big news: NBC is not in last place anymore. The network has tied CBS for second place in the November sweeps period, the month-long time when networks set advertising rates based on ratings.

ABC won the top spot, with a 4.1 in the 18- to 49-year-old demographic, thanks to popular hits like Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, Dancing With the Stars, Lost, and freshman hit Ugly Betty. The network said it is the first time it has swept sweeps in seven years.

Dancing With the Stars is the highest-rated show of the season so far, with a finale that snared over 27 million viewers.

CBS and NBC tied with a 3.8 each, and Fox scored a 3.0. CBS had the stalwart CSI and Survivor franchises, as well as moderate successes with freshmen Shark and Jericho.

Expect the May sweeps to look somewhat different, as Fox's monster hits American Idol--last season's top-rated show--and 24 return in January. Fox had a hard time this fall, with freshmen Vanished, Justice, and Happy Hour getting canned, and 'Til Death and Standoff on life support.

CW numbers aren't yet available, but the network says it will finish at least seven percent ahead of where its parents The WB and UPN were last year. The net notched gains based on the strength of shows like America's Next Top Model, Veronica Mars, and One Tree Hill.

The peacock network saw a 15 percent increase in viewers in the coveted 18- to 49-year-old target market, and 10 percent increase in viewers overall. Both CBS and ABC saw viewership decline--CBS a 14 percent dip and ABC a seven percent slip.

NBC sank from first place to fourth place in viewers in 2004, far from their '90s heyday when they were the top-rated net. Then, shows like Seinfeld, Friends, and ER reigned supreme.

The peacock launched the fall season with critically praised shows like Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Friday Night Lights, but only Heroes has translated into ratings gold--with around 16 million average weekly viewers, it is the number-one new show of the season. Football may have been the deciding factor in the ratings race--last year, ABC had the NFL and came in with a 4.4; this year, NBC had the NFL games on Sunday nights.

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