A thrilling, seven-game conclusion to the World Series between St. Louis and Texas turned baseball's annual championship into a winner for Fox.
Nielsen said the series averaged 16.2 million viewers, well above last year's five-game contest between Texas at San Francisco, which had 14.3 million viewers.
Through five games this year, the Cardinals-Rangers contest was watched by fewer people than all but the 2008 Tampa Bay-Philadelphia series, with none of the games even reaching 15 million viewers.
But World Series ratings get better the longer a series goes. Going back to St. Louis was a boon for Fox: the multi-comeback sixth game drew just over 21 million viewers. Game 7, the first do-or-die World Series game since 2002, had more than 25 million viewers, Nielsen said.
Even with the sixth game already regarded as one of the best Series games ever, a run-of-the-mill Sunday night football matchup on NBC had a bigger audience. That's probably because the late-game turn of events that made Game 6 special didn't happen until midnight and beyond on the East Coast.
Fox's Game 7 ratings may have been better if the game didn't take place on a Friday, traditionally one of the least-watched TV nights of the week.
Nielsen said the median age of the World Series viewer was 52.7 years old. In 2000, the median age was 46.1 _ a sobering sign that baseball is having trouble attracting younger viewers.
An interview with the wife and son of disgraced financier Bernard Madoff was a winner for "60 Minutes." The newsmagazine had its biggest audience since last December, and biggest in viewers under 55 in nearly three years, Nielsen said.
Fox averaged 12.6 million viewers in prime time last week (7.5 rating, 12 share), CBS had 11 million (6.9, 11), ABC had 8.9 million (5.7, 9), NBC had 6.5 million (4.1, 7), the CW had 1.8 million (1.2, 2) and ION Television had 910,000 (0.6, 1).
Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with a 3.4 million average (1.8, 3), Telemundo had 1.1 million (0.6, 1), TeleFutura had 460,000 (0.3, 0), Estrella had 220,000 and Azteca 190,000 (both 0.1, 0).
NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.5 million viewers (5.7, 11). ABC's "World News" was second with 7.5 million (5.1, 10) and the "CBS Evening News" had 6 million viewers (4.1, 8).
A ratings point represents 1,147,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 114.7 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.
For the week of Oct. 24-30, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: World Series Game 7: Texas at St. Louis, Fox, 25.4 million; Sunday Night Football: Dallas at Philadelphia, NBC, 22.99 million; World Series Game 6: Texas at St. Louis, Fox, 21.07 million; "NCIS," CBS, 19.43 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 18.56 million; "Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick," NBC, 17.22 million; "Dancing With the Stars," ABC, 17.17 million; "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 15.89 million; "Two and a Half Men," CBS, 15.29 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 14.54 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 Comcast Corp. 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.