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'Sopranos' and 'Housewives' bruise each other

Not that anyone expected Sunday’s Sopranos premiere to knock Desperate Housewives off its perch, but they did some damage to each other. Sopranos has never had much competition before in its 9 p.m. Sunday slot, but this year, it debuted with an estimated 9.5 million, down about 25 percent from the Season 5 premiere two years ago. In the other corner, Housewives drew 22.2 million, its smallest audience in more than a year, and about a million less than the last new episode three weeks ago. The real winner Sunday was Housewives’ follow-up, Grey’s Anatomy, which drew 22.5 million. It’s been outdrawing its lead-in for a few weeks now. Tail is now officially wagging dog.

Originally posted March 14 2006 — 8:55 PM EST

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