ABC's corporate cousins with the Anaheim Angels may have won the World Series, but Fox took the ratings crown.
The broadcast home to the Fall Classic was the most-watched network for the prime-time week ended Sunday, averaging 16.3 million viewers. Fox's baseball-boosted victory was its first of the fall season, snapping CBS' winning streak at four. The Eyeball slipped to second, averaging 12.6 million viewers.
NBC fell to third, with 10.97 million; ABC, to fourth, with 9.4 million.
As bad luck would have it, the network that perhaps suffered the most from baseball was ABC. Because the Angels--like ABC, owned by Disney's mouse house--proved especially persistent and extended the series to a full seven games, Sunday's final showdown, as broadcast on Fox, trounced the ailing Alphabet's usually strong drama lineup. Top 25 perennial The Practice sank to 64th place, with 8.2 million viewers; It show Alias, to 72nd place, with 7.3 million viewers.
Overall, ABC, one of the vaunted Big Three networks, is running fourth for the season, with total viewership down seven percent from last. CBS remains number one, trailed by NBC and Fox.
October's monthlong baseball playoff marathon has helped up Fox's viewership numbers 21 percent. The network is averaging 10.72 million viewers this season, compared to 8.87 million at this time last year.
Technically, the all-California 2002 World Series, in which the Angels slew the San Francisco Giants, was the lowest-rated World Series in TV history, "beating" the previous paltry Nielsens posted by 2000's all-Big Apple edition, featuring the New York Yankees versus the New York Mets.
The just-concluded series averaged 24 percent lower ratings than last year's bi-time-zone matchup between the Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
As the World Series stats were released Tuesday, much was made about how the event's ratings are half of what they used to be just 11 years ago. Much was not made of the two broadcast networks (WB, UPN) that weren't around to compete with the World Series 11 years ago, or the 100-plus digital cable networks, or the Internet, or the...
The bottom line: Fox said its baseball advertisers got what they paid for. The network won't have to make good with free ads for not delivering on promised-for numbers.
The other bottom line: More people (30.8 million) watched Sunday's Game 7 than anything else in prime-time last week--topping all 109 anything elses. Game 4 (18.1 million) and Game 3 (17 million) were the sixth and eighth most-watched shows, respectively.
True, Game 5 (13th place, 15.8 million) didn't crack the Top 10, but that's because it was too busy cracking NBC's Must-See Thursday lineup.
Faced with the World Series on Fox, the Peacock surrendered with a night of repeats. So-called "encore" presentations of Friends (seventh place, 17.1 million) and Will & Grace (24th place, 13.9 million) registered season lows for those two series. Scrubs (22nd place, 14.1 million) and Good Morning, Miami (34th place, 12 million), both armed with new episodes, also stumbled. NBC didn't even bother to air ER, opting instead for a very special outing of Law & Order: Criminal Intent (32nd place, 12.4 million).
Like NBC, CBS didn't want to waste its star Thursday drama in a pitched battle with baseball. Still, even a repeat of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (second place, 24.97 million) helped the Eyeball win the tube's most competitive night.
CBS' Thursday victory was a rare one. Fox and baseball gobbled up five nightly wins.
But the feast figures to be over pretty quick for Fox. Without Barry Bonds to put pop into its lineup, the network will be left with flunking freshman shows like David E. Kelley's Girls Club (82nd place, 5.8 million) and Joss Whedon's Firefly (89th place, 4.4 million).
Things are bleaker, of course, at ABC. But even the Alphabet has managed to mint a genuine new hit show, 8 Simple Rules... (20th place, 14.2 million), and, via The Bachelor (15th place, 14.9 million), maul a formerly hit show for NBC, The West Wing (30th place, 12.56 million). (To be fair, last week's Wing was a repeat, but overall, ratings are flattening out for the Oval Office drama.)
Elsewhere, WB recorded its weekly win over the UPN, averaging 4.6 million viewers to the latter's 3.9 million. The top-rated Frog show was 7th Heaven (61st place, 8.45 million); the top-rated UPN entry, WWE Smackdown! (83rd place, 5.6 million).
UPN's The Twilight Zone redo celebrated its season-long pickup by zoning out in 100th place (3.4 million). The dishonor of the week's lowest-rated show also went to the UPN, for the dead-eyed P.I. show Haunted (110th place, 1.9 million).
In the biggest diss of the week, CBS' entire Wednesday night lineup was left out of the network's own ratings recap. Of course, that's because there wasn't much to brag about, what with 60 Minutes II (55th place, 9.3 million), The Amazing Race 3 (66th place, 8 million) and Presidio Med (74th place, 7.1 million).
Here's a rundown of the 10 most-watched shows for the week ended Sunday, according to Nielsen Media Research:
1. Game 7 of 2002 World Series, Fox, 30.8 million viewers
2. CSI, CBS, 24.97 million
3. Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS, 21.5 million
4. Survivor: Thailand, CBS, 20.9 million
5. CSI: Miami, CBS, 18.5 million
6. Game 4 of 2002 World Series, Fox, 18 million
7. Friends, NBC, 17.1 million
8. Game 3 of 2002 World Series, Fox, 17 million
9. Still Standing, CBS, 16.6 million
10. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, NBC, 16.5 million