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ABC Wins First Week Of TV Season, Snaps NBC's 7-Week Streak

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NEW YORK — Strong openings by "Dancing With the Stars" and ABC's most popular prime-time soaps led the network to victory during the first week of a new TV season.

Viewers were eager to get back into the stories of "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy" after a summer off. Both series were seen by more than 18 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. Last week's "Desperate Housewives" was the most-watched episode of a scripted series since April.

ABC averaged more viewers than last year during premiere week, coming off a dreadful summer and with the increased use of digital recorders giving people more options. Fox and the CW also did better during this year's premiere week than last year's.

CBS' drama "The Mentalist" landed in Nielsen's top 10, the best debut of a new series so far this season.

Despite a strong summer, NBC was in third place, largely because of its popular Sunday night football fixture. The much-heralded debut of "Heroes" had barely more than 10 million people, or less than ESPN was reaching for "Monday Night Football" at the same time.

For the week, ABC averaged 12.3 million viewers (7.8 rating, 13 share), and narrowly beat NBC among the 18-to-49-year-old viewers advertisers seek. CBS averaged 11.3 million (7.1, 12), NBC had 8.3 million (5.2, 8), Fox 7.5 million (4.6, 7), the CW 2.9 million (1.9, 3), My Network TV 960,000 (0.4, 1) and ION Television 370,000 (0.3, 0).

It was a strong start for Univision, beating last year's opening and in its customary spot atop the ratings for Spanish-language networks. Univision averaged 3.7 million viewers (1.9 rating, 3 share), Telemundo 1 million (0.6, 1), TeleFutura 640,000 (0.3, 1) and Azteca 140,000 (0.1, 0).

ABC's "World News" won the evening news ratings race, averaging 8.1 million viewers (5.5 rating, 11 share). NBC's "Nightly News" had 8 million viewers (5.4, 11) and the "CBS Evening News" 6 million (4.1, 8).

A ratings point represents 1,145,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 114.5 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of Sept. 22-28, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "Dancing With the Stars" (Monday), ABC, 21.34 million; "Desperate Housewives," ABC, 18.68 million; "Grey's Anatomy," ABC, 18.47 million; "Dancing With the Stars" (Tuesday), ABC, 18.3 million; "NCIS," CBS, 18.03 million; Sunday Night Football: Philadelphia at Chicago, NBC, 17.34 million; "CSI: Miami," CBS, 17.23 million; "Criminal Minds," CBS, 17.01 million; "Dancing With the Stars Results" (Wednesday), ABC, 15.87 million; "The Mentalist," CBS, 15.6 million.

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ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox and My Network TV are units of News Corp. NBC and Telemundo are owned by General Electric Co. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks. TeleFutura is a division of Univision. Azteca America is a wholly owned subsidiary of TV Azteca S.A. de C.V.

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