Reuters reports that the ecstasy and the agony of a made-for-TV courtship proved more compelling to viewers than sexy models in lingerie as the season finale of ABC's "The Bachelor" trounced CBS's "Victoria's Secret Fashion Show" in the ratings.

In one of the hottest prime-time matchups this season, ABC averaged 24.1 million viewers during the first hour of the "Bachelor" finale Wednesday night opposite the controversial "Victoria's Secret" special on CBS, which drew an audience of 10.5 million, according to Nielsen Media Research. The "Victoria Secret's Fashion Show" not only trailed "The Bachelor" in the ratings, but also NBC's political drama "The West Wing," which finished No. 2 in its time slot with 15 million viewers. The "Victoria's Secret" audience of 10.5 million even fell below the 12.4 million who tuned into a similar special last year when it aired on ABC.

For the two-hour "Bachelor" telecast as a whole, nearly 26 million viewers tuned in to see Missouri banker Aaron Buerge propose to Helene Eksterowicz, the brunette psychologist from New Jersey, leaving blond runner-up Brooke Smith from Alabama in tears. ABC said that "The Bachelor" finale was the network's most watched Wednesday night program since an ABC News interview with White House intern Monica Lewinsky in March 1999. The one-hour finale of the show's inaugural edition in April averaged 18.2 million viewers.

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