NEW YORK (AP) - Even though Fox ended CBS' season-opening winning streak in the ratings, there have been few reasons for its executives to be gleeful this fall.
The Nielsen Co. said Fox was the top-ranked network last week on the strength of the World Series. No other network had beaten CBS this fall.
Otherwise, it's been a tough season for Fox, which has seen its viewership drop by 14 percent from last fall. By comparison, NBC and CBS are up, while ABC is down 3 percent, Nielsen said.
Some of Fox's established series have lost viewers this year. "The Simpsons" is down 9 percent from last fall and "Lie to Me" is off 27 percent. Most damaging of all is "House," a bona fide critical and commercial success that has seemingly fallen off the map. Its audience is down an alarming 35 percent from 2009, according to Nielsen.
Fox's new series "Lone Star," about a con man living with two women, was a disaster that was canceled after two episodes. Neither of the two new comedies, "Raising Hope" or "Running Wilde," have been hits, although "Raising Hope" has earned a full season's order of shows.
Even though the World Series between the Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants helped last week, its average of 14.1 million viewers through the first four games put it second only to 2008's Phillies-Rays series as the least-watched on record. Preliminary numbers from Monday's fifth and final game indicate it may come close to beating that dubious record.
Fox's poor start this year is magnified because the network did unusually well in the ratings last fall, said Brad Adgate, an analyst for Horizon Media.
"They had such a strong fall last year that they hoped to build on that," he said. "They're back to where they were two, three, four years ago."
Rough autumns is something of a tradition at Fox, which has rebounded strongly with the return of "American Idol" in January and, in the past few years, a new season of "24." But "24" is done, and "Idol" faces some questions about its continuing popularity with the exit of Simon Cowell and the remodel of its panel of judges.
The bright spot for Fox is the blossoming of "Glee" into a genuine hit and cultural force; its ratings are up 47 percent over last fall. Fox has the Super Bowl this winter, too, which guarantees gigantic ratings. Despite the tough fall, the network notes that it is still a close second to CBS in ratings for 18-to-49-year-old viewers, Fox's target audience, with the best part of its season to come.
ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" was the most popular show on TV last week. ABC's second-season comedies "Modern Family" and "The Middle" both had their biggest audiences ever.
For the week, Fox averaged 12 million viewers (7.1 rating, 12 share). CBS had 11 million (6.8, 11), ABC had 9.2 million (5.9, 10), NBC had 6.6 million (4.0, 7), the CW had 2.2 million (1.4, 2) and ION Television had 1.1 million (0.7, 1).
Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with a prime-time average of 4.3 million viewers last week (2.1 rating, 4 share). Telemundo averaged 820,000 (0.5, 1), TeleFutura had 680,000 (0.4, 1), Estrella had 270,000 and Azteca had 190,000 (both 0.1, 0).
NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.1 million viewers (5.3, 11). ABC's "World News" was second with 7.4 million (5.0, 10) and the "CBS Evening News" had 5.5 million viewers (3.7, 7).
A ratings point represents 1,159,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 115.9 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.
For the week of Oct. 25-31, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "Dancing With the Stars," ABC, 20.41 million; "NCIS," CBS, 20.18 million; NFL Football: Pittsburgh vs. New Orleans, NBC, 18.11 million; "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 15.99 million; "Dancing With the Stars Results," 15.93 million; World Series Game 4: San Francisco vs. Texas, Fox, 15.54 million; World Series Game 1: Texas vs. San Francisco, Fox, 15.01 million; "The Mentalist," CBS, 14.76 million; "World Series Pre-Game Show," Fox, 14.68 million; "The OT," Fox, 14.31 million.
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.