'Desperate Housewives' Beats 'Survivor'

ABC's "Desperate Housewives" (search) is doing so well, it turned a "Survivor" finale into a run-of-the-mill event.

ABC's dark comedy beat the "Survivor: Vanuatu" (search) conclusion in the Nielsen Media Research ratings Sunday night, the first time in nine editions that any other program has beaten the ultimate edition of the game.

The 19.7 million viewers who watched Sunday made it the least popular "Survivor" finale ever. "Survivor: Thailand" had 22.3 million viewers in May 2003. More people actually watched Thursday's penultimate episode (20 million) than the finale.

The "Survivor" audience still put a dent in "Desperate Housewives," which was down to 21.6 million viewers after topping 27 million when the neighborhood busybody was knocked off.

CBS still won the weekly ratings race, averaging 13.1 million viewers (8.3 rating, 13 share) and dominating the youthful demographic. ABC was second with 10.3 million (6.7, 11), NBC had 9.6 million (6.5, 10), Fox had 7 million (4.5, 7), UPN had 3.3 million (2.3, 4), the WB had 3.1 million (2.0, 3) and Pax TV had 670,000 (0.5, 1).

The numbers continued to point out NBC's prime-time deterioration. NBC had only four of the 20 most popular prime-time shows last week, compared to 10 for CBS and six for ABC, Nielsen said.

Without Matt LeBlanc's old friends, "Joey" dropped to 10.2 million viewers, with sagging "Will & Grace" behind it with 10.1 million. That ranked the shows Nos. 34 and 35 for the week, behind even an "According to Jim" rerun.

Brian Williams' first full week at the helm of NBC's "Nightly News" was a ratings success. His show averaged 10.5 million viewers (7.4 rating, 14 share), ABC's "World News Tonight" had 9.5 million viewers (6.7, 13) and the "CBS Evening News" had 7.3 million (5.2, 10).

A ratings point represents 1,096,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 109.6 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of Dec. 6-12, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," CBS, 29.8 million; "Desperate Housewives," ABC, 21.6 million; "Survivor: Vanuatu" (Thursday), CBS, 20 million; "Survivor: Vanuatu Finale," CBS, 19.7 million; "Without a Trace," CBS, 19.5 million; "Lost," ABC, 18.9 million; "ER," NBC, 18.2 million; "NFL Monday Night Football: Dallas at Seattle," ABC, 16.6 million; "Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2004," ABC, 16.3 million; "The Apprentice 2," NBC, 16 million.