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Football, ‘Housewives’ boost ABC to ratings top

David Bauder Associated Press

Buoyed by football and its suddenly potent Sunday lineup, ABC was the nation’s most popular network last week for the first time this season and had its best ratings week in four years.

A gripping National Football League playoff game between the New York Jets and San Diego Chargers drew 25.8 million viewers Saturday, normally a night of light TV viewing.

And though the game was a blowout, the USC-Oklahoma national college football championship on Jan. 4 was seen by 21.4 million people, according to Nielsen Media Research.

“Desperate Housewives” (25.2 million viewers) returned with an original episode Sunday at 9 p.m. and helped the shows before and after it. “Boston Legal” scored a series high at 10 p.m. with Candice Bergen’s addition to the cast and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” at 8 p.m. has blossomed into a top 10 show.

For the week, ABC averaged 15.9 million viewers (10 rating, 16 share), and easily won among viewers aged 18 to 49. CBS had 12 million viewers (7.9, 12), NBC 10.4 million (6.9, 11), Fox 8.7 million (5.4, 8), UPN 3.2 million (2.2, 3) and the WB 2.8 million (1.9, 3).

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.

The top 10 shows for the week ending Sunday: “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 28.9 million viewers; AFC Playoff Game: N.Y. Jets at San Diego, ABC, 25.8 million; “Desperate Housewives,” ABC, 25.2 million; “Without a Trace,” CBS, 23.8 million; “AFC/NFC Showcase,” ABC, 23 million; “Lost,” ABC, 21.6 million; Orange Bowl: USC vs. Oklahoma, ABC, 21.4 million; “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” ABC, 20 million; “Wildcard Post Game Show,” Fox, 19.5 million; “Everybody Loves Raymond,” CBS, 18.8 million.

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