"Housewives" is the latest series to benefit from having a relatively deep stockpile during the writers strike. Shows that last long enough are gaining a ratings boost as rivals schedule repeats and specials.
"Desperate" hit a 7.7 preliminary rating among adults 18 to 49, its highest since November 2006. The show was up against football on NBC, a Hallmark movie on CBS and a "Family Guy" repeat.
Still, the quality of "Housewives" is likely a factor too. In recent weeks critics have noted the show has dramatically improved from the last two seasons. ABC has one produced episode remaining, but has not yet determined an air date (ABC, CBS and NBC hope to know the outcome of the current round of contract talks before having to announce their midseason schedules, but time is getting tight).
"Housewives" gave ABC the win for Sunday, along with an on par "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (4.9) and "Brothers & Sisters" (4.8).
Fox was second with animated repeats, the football special "BCS Selection Show" (4.3) and "American Dad" (2.8). NBC was third with "Sunday Night Football" with the Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (5.1). CBS came in fourth, with a slightly low "Amazing Race" (3.4), and the Hallmark movie "Pictures of Hollis Woods" (2.2). The CW aired "Life Is Wild" (0.4) and repeats.
On Friday: ABC had a rare Friday victory with its second run of "The Polar Express" (3.0). NBC was second with "Deal or No Deal" (2.4), "Friday Night Lights" (1.8) and "Las Vegas" (2.0). CBS came in third with its "My Night at the Grammys" special (1.7) and a repeat. The CW was fourth with "Friday Night Smackdown" (1.3), and Fox was fifth with "Next Great American Band" (0.8) and a repeat.