CBS, NBC Battle For First With Fox Batter Up

CBS and NBC shared the top 10 again in this week's Nielsens, with Fox nudging past ABC for third place in prime average, thanks to its baseball playoff lineup.

With the top show, CSI, Everybody Loves Raymond, Survivor and CSI: Miami, CBS edged out NBC with a 15 share/8.9 household rating. NBC, with Friends, E.R., Law and Order, Will & Grace, Scrubs and West Wing, scored a 14/8.3. Fox was at 11/6.7 and ABC 10/6.4. No Fox shows made the 25. ABC had Monday Night Football, 8 Simple Rules, The Practice and The Bachelor, all near the bottom of the list.

8 Simples Rules and its lineup of Tuesday comedies is helping ABC make a comeback, but two of its new dramas have already failed, with That Was Then and Push, Nevada cancelled this week. That Was Then was taken off the air immediately, and replaced with episodes of America's Funniest Home Videos. Push will run through Oct. 24.

The WB, which scored a 5 share/3.2 household this week, will roll out the sitcoms Do Over and Greetings from Tucson for a full season, but cancel Off Center. Do Over averages 2.7 million viewers on Thursdays, with Greetings watched by 3.8 million on Fridays. The WB has also ordered a full season of Everwood.

As for Fox, it is happy with the baseball playoffs so far, up 13% from last year with a 12 share/7.1 household rating through last Friday. This year's playoffs are also up 19% in men 18-34 and 18% men 18-49. The high ratings were surprising considering the competition from the NFL on CBS and Nascar racing on NBC. The World Series could be a problem because both teams are from California, meaning the national appeal is limited and games start outside of prime time in the West.

Two of the playoff games made the top five in the latest sports ratings, trailing MNF and the NFL on CBS and Fox. MNF led the way with a 20 share/11.5 household.

Cable leaders for the most recent week were the NFL on ESPN, baseball playoffs on Family, Spongebob (Nick) and WWE Entertainment (TNN), with the NFL scoring a 4.8 household with 5.1 million households and 7.3 million persons 2 plus tuned in.

Syndicated winners were Wheel of Fortune, Friends, Jeopardy, ESPN NFL and the Oprah Winfrey Show, with Wheel scoring an 8.4 household with 8.9 million households watching.

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