CBS wins ratings week despite Red Sox on Fox. Thursday's dramas and ''60 Minutes'' Ashlee Simpson expose help CBS beat a Fox slate marked by a short World Series

By Gary Susman
Updated November 03, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

St. Louis Cardinals fans weren’t the only ones upset by the Boston Red Sox sweep of the World Series. So were Fox programmers, who got to air only two games out of a potential five last week. The last two games of the fall classic scored some of the best numbers for any World Series game in a decade; Game 4 drew 28.8 million viewers, according to Nielsen, to become the week’s second most-viewed show, while Game 3 came in at No. 3 with 24.4 million. (The series’ first two games fell during the previous ratings week.) Still, the absence of a Game 5, 6, or 7 allowed CBS to eke out a weekly win with 13.5 million viewers to Fox’s 11.3 million.

As usual, CBS’ CSI: Crime Scene Investigation was the top show (29.1 million), while fellow Thursday stalwarts Without a Trace (22.1 million) and Survivor: Vanuatu (19.1 million) also finished in the top 10. Even 60 Minutes, boosted by Sunday football and segments on Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ashlee Simpson’s Saturday Night Live gaffe, drew 19.7 million, its biggest audience since March 2000. Not doing so well was Rob Lowe’s dr. vegas, which the network has pulled after just five airings. (NBC made a similar decision this week with its new Vegas show, Father of the Pride, though the network says it’ll be back after the November sweeps are over; no such guarantees from CBS for Lowe’s show.)

ABC saw its new hit Desperate Housewives (No. 4, 22.1 million) draw its biggest audience yet, while Lost had a strong showing (16.8 million) opposite the final World Series game. The network finished third with 10.1 million, forcing a rare fourth-place finish on NBC (9.3 million). Thanks to the still strong 7th Heaven, the WB edged out UPN 3.9 million to 3.7 million, even though moving Jack and Bobby from Sunday to Wednesday meant the struggling new drama got clobbered by the one-two punch of UPN’s America’s Next Top Model and Kevin Hill.