NEW YORK (AP) – Back in April, saying ABC would have three of the six most popular TV programs in early November was like predicting the Boston Red Sox would win the World Series.

Hey, miracles happen!

“Desperate Housewives” continues as one of the most talked-about new serials in years. The 24.6 million viewers who watched Sunday set another series record and made the drama the week’s second-most popular show behind “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.” The timing couldn’t be better for ABC, starting the first ratings “sweeps” month of the new season.

ABC’s other hit drama, “Lost,” drew 18.7 million. But the real surprise was “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” which hit an eye-popping 20.2 million.

ABC still has enough holes in its schedule that it finished third behind CBS and NBC for the week, Nielsen Media Research said Tuesday.

But among the 18-to-49-year-old demographic that advertisers love, ABC scored a razor-thin victory over those two rivals. Three months ago, few in the TV business would have dreamed they’d even be a factor in that race.

The “Desperate Housewives” phenomenon helped derail CBS’s “Dallas” reunion, which had a disappointing 12.7 million viewers.

Fox finally rolled out more new series, to mixed results. Its executives were pleased with how “Nanny 911” put misbehaving children in line (8.6 million viewers) and that “The O.C.” managed to survive (also 8.6 million) in a suicidal Thursday time slot.

But “My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss” was a big fat dud: “The Apprentice” knockoff was ranked No. 90 for the week with 4.4 million viewers.

For the week, CBS averaged 12.9 million viewers (8.5 rating, 13 share), NBC had 11.3 million (7.4, 12), ABC 11 million (7.1, 11), Fox 6.3 million (4.1, 6), the WB 4.1 million (2.7, 4), UPN 3.6 million (2.5, 4) and Pax TV 660,000 (0.4, 1).

It was a big week for NBC News, which by a decisive margin was the network of choice for Election Night returns. The soon-to-step-down Tom Brokaw led NBC’s “Nightly News” to an 11.4 million average (8.0 rating, 15 share), ABC’s “World News Tonight” had 9.6 million (6.7, 12) and the “CBS Evening News” had 7.7 million (5.5, 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 Nov. 1-7, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 30.6 million; “Desperate Housewives,” ABC, 24.6 million; “Without a Trace,” CBS, 21.8 million; “Survivor: Vanuatu,” CBS, 20.2 million; “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” ABC, 20.2 million; “Lost,” ABC, 18.7 million; “Cold Case,” CBS, 17.7 million; “60 Minutes,” CBS, 17.6 million; “ER,” NBC, 17 million; “The Apprentice 2,” NBC, 16.1 million.



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