With ABC's resurgent Sunday night programming schedule suddenly featuring two Top 10 Nielsen ratings shows, perhaps it time for CBS to reconsider its tradition of airing Survivor finales on Sundays rather than the show's Thursday night home. Matched up versus Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and Desperate Housewives (which ranks second to only CBS's CSI in the season-to-date rankings), Survivor: Vanuatu's season finale managed to win its overall 8-10PM time period in viewers, but failed to experience the big ratings pop that Survivor finales have usually drawn.

According to the final national Nielsen ratings for Sunday, December 12, Survivor: Vanuatu's 8:00-10:09PM ET/PT season finale averaged 19.72 million viewers, a 8.6/17 rating/share in the Adults 25-54 demographic, a 7.5/16 in Adults 18-49 and a 5.3/13 in Adults 18-34.

Survivor: Vanuatu's finale finished first in its 8-10PM time period among viewers and Adults 25-54 and tied with ABC for first in Adults 18-49. However, despite steadily growing its numbers in all key demographics during in every half-hour of its broadcast,Survivor: Vanuatu finished second to Desperate Housewives in the standalone 9-10PM hour.

Survivor made a big dent in Housewives ratings -- its previous broadcast had drawn a series-high 27.2 million viewers and 12.5/26 in Adults 18-49 -- but Housewives still managed to draw 21.6 million viewers and a 9.2/20 in Adults 18-49 to finish the night as the evening's top-ranked program. Housewives' performance marks the first time that a Sunday Survivor finale has failed to claim that title as its own.

ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition didn't hold up quite as well, likely due to both its self-contained, unserialized nature and the fact that as another reality series, it shared more viewer overlap with Survivor than the ABC primetime soap drama. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition's 8-9PM broadcast still drew a strong 14.5 million viewers, but the performance was measurably below its previous 16.2 million season-to-date average.

Survivor's reunion show fared better versus Boston Legal, the weakest link in ABC's Sunday night lineup. Airing from 10:09-11PM ET/PT, Survivor Vanuatu: The Reunion handily won the 10-11PM time period, drawing 15.23 million viewers, a 9.0/14 in households, a 7.5/17 in Adults 25-54, a 6.5/16 in Adults 18-49, and a 5.1/14 in Adults 18-34. Survivor Vanuatu: The Reunion retained 96% of its finale lead-in in Adults 18-34 (5.1/14 from 5.3/14) and 87% of its lead-in in Adults 18-49 (6.5/16 from 7.5/16).

Survivor: Vanuatu's Sunday finale finished the week as television's fourth most watched program, trailing only CSI, Desperate Housewives, and Thursday's penultimate Survivor: Vanuatu broadcast. Despite finishing its ninth season, Survivor remains a ratings powerhouse, with Survivor: Vanuatu remaining the most watched reality program on television and ranking fifth among all programs in the 2004-2005 season-to-date Nielsen ratings..

Survivor: Vanuatu was the fourth-straight Survivor edition to feature a Sunday evening finale. The last Survivor edition to feature a Thursday evening three-hour finale broadcast was Survivor: Thailand on December 19, 2002

Survivor's tenth installment, Survivor: Palau, concluded filming earlier this month and will air on CBS in early 2005. According to Survivor host Jeff Probst, Survivor: Palau will feature twenty contestants and see the Survivor game "changed in a dramatic way," with "everything the survivors have come to expect being wiped out in the first ten minutes."