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your tv ratings explained

Your TV Ratings Explained: Family Guy, Housewives, and Other Old Favorites Win Sunday Night

Tuned In
The first week of the new season ended on an upbeat note for the networks: No new shows debuted, but a bunch of veteran series returned to mostly solid ratings. Leaving aside NBC's Sunday Night Football, which always dominates in terms of overall eyeballs, Fox's hour-long season premiere of Family Guy (9.1 million viewers, 4.5 rating with adults 18 to 49) was the No. 1 show with viewers under 50, winning the 9 p.m. hour (though down 15 percent from last fall). ABC's Desperate Housewives (12.8 million), meanwhile, still has some bite left: It was the No. 1 scripted show in overall viewers, and while its premiere was down a tad from last September, it was up over its May finale. CBS's supersize reality block also did very well: The Amazing Race, airing in a funky 8:30 to 10 p.m. time slot, was up versus its fall 2009 bow, while Undercover Boss was right in line with last spring's ratings; airing in a less-crowded ten o'clock certainly helped. Both shows averaged a little over 11 million viewers, though CBS's final numbers could change since, on the East Coast, shows were delayed by around 45 minutes owing to a football overrun.

Tuned Out
The two-hour return of ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition didn't bomb, but its seven o'clock hour (5.5 million) finished below animated repeats on Fox, while the 8 p.m hour (8.4 million) was off 20 percent from last fall. It may be time for ABC to move ... that ... show (the similarly feel-good Secret Millionaire might be a logical fit). ABC also has to consider a change at ten: While Brothers and Sisters (9.6 million) matched its year-ago numbers, the show is still losing 25 percent of its DH lead-in.

Crunching the Numbers
Assuming CSI: Miami does well when it returns next week, CBS appears to have turned around a night that had been fading, with a resurgent Amazing Race proving to be a solid 8 p.m. anchor and Undercover Boss still demonstrating pep in its second season. ABC is clearly the network with the most issues on Sunday, but the network can take comfort in the fact that Housewives still provides a very strong base off of which to launch a new show. Expect ABC to do just that before the season's over.

Photo: Fox