''CSI''-powered CBS wins another ratings week. ABC, despite ''Housewives'' and ''Lost,'' can't pull ahead of NBC or baseball-driven Fox

By Gary Susman
Updated October 20, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

This week, according to Nielsen, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation was the week’s most watched show (with 29 million viewers), and CSI: Miami was No. 2 (21.9 million). Who knows, if the final presidential debate hadn’t pre-empted CSI: NY, CBS could have enjoyed a sweep. As it stands, CBS was, as usual, the week’s most-watched network, landing seven of the top 10 shows and averaging an audience of 12.9 million.

Baseball been berry berry good to Fox, which landed three pennant-race games in the top 20 and finished with an average of 11.8 million viewers. NBC had to settle for third place with 10.2 million. Blame it on slumping shows like the all-but-canceled Hawaii and the barely-in-the-top 20 Joey. ER, now in its 11th season, remains strong, however. It marked NBC’s only top 10 entry this week, drawing 16.8 million viewers to finish at No. 9.

ABC finished fourth with a 10 million average audience, but it’s winning the competition for watercooler buzz. Desperate Housewives remains the season’s most popular new show, drawing 20.9 million to finish at No. 3 this week. New drama Lost is close behind (No. 6, 18.2 million). Unfortunately, for every Housewives on the network’s schedule, there’s also a Benefactor or Life as We Know It that no one is talking about the next day.

Smallville, which paid tribute to occasional guest star Christopher Reeve this week, drew 6.2 million, propelling the WB to a strong weekly average of 4 million, enough to beat rival UPN (3.7 million).