That five-year jump on Desperate Housewives may not have been kind to Gabby (Eva Longoria Parker, pictured), but it didn’t hurt the show’s ratings one bit. Sunday’s fifth season premiere averaged 18.4 million viewers in overnight ratings, giving the ABC drama the win in the 9 p.m. hour and for the night (beating out NBC Sunday Night Football, which averaged 15.4 million viewers from 8 to 11 p.m.). More importantly, Housewives had its largest audience and best adults 18-49 rating since Jan. 6, 2008. While that 18.4 million is actually down 4.5 percent from the season 4 opener, this year’s premiere could end up in the black once you factor in the rising number of DVR viewings.
As for ABC’s other returns: Brothers & Sisters opened its third season with an average of 12.3 million viewers, down just 480,000 from season 2′s premiere. One tiny concern, though, for Nora and her Walker clan: their audience dropped 13 percent in the second half hour. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, meanwhile, doubled its crowd from the start of its two-hour tearjerker (6.5 million) to the end (13.3 million). Still, its 8 p.m. hour was down 16 percent from last season’s one-hour debut.
Moving on to CBS premieres: The Amazing Race 13 averaged 10.3 million viewers, down 25 percent from season 12′s November ’07 opener. The Emmy-winning reality show also saw a notable drop in its second half hour (15 percent). Cold Case managed to build on both Race‘s audience and its own (up nearly 700,000 viewers in the second half hour), but its 11.2 million average was also off from last season’s premiere (by 12 percent). The Eye ended the night with 9.7 million viewers watching The Unit, which had been relocated from its Tuesday night time slot where it averaged 10.5 million last fall.
Finally, we get to Fox, which also boasted a night of premieres: The Simpsons started its 20th season with 9.3 million viewers, down just 247,000 from its last season opener. King of the Hill was seen by 7 million (a 10 percent drop from its ’07 premiere), while 9.2 million (down 15 percent) tuned in for Family Guy. American Dad lost 25 percent of the Family Guy crowd, but with 6.9 million viewers, the show actually bested its ’07 premiere by 13 percent.
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