When it comes to holiday TV traditions, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" has it all over the Grinch, a Rockefeller Center tree lighting and half-naked women selling lingerie.
The annual TV return of Rudolph, on CBS last week, was seen by 10.6 million people, the Nielsen Co. said. That beat "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" on ABC by more than a million and a half viewers.
"Christmas in Rockefeller Center" on NBC had 8.7 million viewers and the annual Victoria's Secret fashion show had 8 million on CBS.
The Grammy Awards may want to rethink its strategy of a prime-time nomination special. It was a relative dud, with only 6.3 million viewers.
With the broadcast network schedules clogged with specials and reruns, cable stepped up. ESPN's "Monday Night Football" clash between New Orleans and New England, with 21.4 million viewers, ranks as the second most-watched cable telecast of all time, the network said. Only Brett Favre's first competition with the Minnesota Vikings against his former team, the Green Bay Packers, earlier this year drew a bigger cable audience.
The finale of USA's "Monk" had 9.4 million viewers, giving it the biggest audience of any basic cable drama ever, Nielsen said.
CBS was the week's ratings winner, averaging 8.8 million viewers in prime time (5.6 rating, 9 share). ABC had 7.9 million (4.9, 8), while NBC (4.7, 8) and Fox (4.6, 7) finished in a dead heat with 7.6 million viewers. The CW had 1.7 million viewers (1.1, 2) and ION Television had 1.1 million (0.7, 1).
Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision had 3.6 million viewers (1.8 rating, 3 share), TeleMundo had 1.1 million (0.6, 1) TeleFutura had 880,000 (0.4, 1).
NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 9.6 million viewers (6.4, 12). ABC's "World News" was second with 8.3 million (5.6, 10) and the "CBS Evening News" had 6.6 million viewers (4.4, 8).
A ratings point represents 1,149,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 114.9 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.
For the week of Nov. 30-Dec. 6, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: Sunday Night Football: Minnesota at Arizona, NBC, 20.89 million; "Desperate Housewives," ABC, 14.86 million; "NCIS" (Tuesday, 9 p.m.), CBS, 14.28 million; "The OT," Fox, 13.73 million; "Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick," NBC, 13.65 million; "House" Fox, 13.25 million; "Survivor: Samoa," CBS, 12.82 million; College Football: Texas vs. Nebraska, ABC, 12.69 million; "Amazing Race 15," CBS, 12.3 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 12 million.