Tough prime-time weeks for NBC, Fox |

Tough prime-time weeks for NBC, Fox

The Associated Press

NEW YORK ” CBS is continuing its strong start to the new television season, but for NBC and Fox, last week was one to forget.

CBS was the only one of the top five networks with more prime-time viewers last week than it had for the same week a year before. Ten of the nation’s 20 most-watched prime-time shows were on CBS, according to Nielsen Media Research.

The consistent hit “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” led the way. CBS is also doing well with its new Simon Baker series, “The Mentalist,” which was Nielsen’s No. 5 show last week.

ABC’s brightest spot was “Samantha Who?” the Christina Applegate series that had 11.4 million viewers turn out to support the star as she returned to work following breast cancer surgery this summer. It was the second most-popular sitcom on TV, behind CBS’ “Two and a Half Men.”

For Fox, “American Idol” can’t come soon enough. The network had a startling 5 million fewer viewers this year than the same week a year ago. The primary culprit was baseball, as the network’s coverage of the National League Championship Series between Philadelphia and Los Angeles laid an egg. The deciding fifth game had barely more than 8 million viewers.

Fox is holding its breath for the World Series between the Phillies and virtually unknown Tampa Bay Rays. Only a long series is likely to help the network.

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By far, no NBC prime-time show last week could match the ratings for the late-night “Saturday Night Live” with Sarah Palin, which had an estimated 14 million viewers. No prime-time NBC series even reached 10 million viewers, with the exception of Sunday night’s football game.

Given the prime-time problems, it was remarkable that NBC News managed to win in the ratings for its analysis of the final John McCain-Barack Obama debate, and for its evening newscast.

For the week, CBS averaged 11.5 million viewers (7.3 rating, 12 share), ABC had 9.2 million (5.9, 10), NBC had 7.2 million (4.6, 7), Fox had 6.7 million (4.2, 7), the CW had 2.1 million (1.4, 2), My Network TV had 1.6 million (1.1, 2) and ION Television had 580,000 (0.4, 1).

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with 3.9 million viewers (1.9, 3), Telemundo had 1.1 million (0.6, 1), TeleFutura had 680,000 (0.3, 1) and Azteca had 190,000 (0.1, 0).

NBC’s “Nightly News” led with 7.8 million viewers to ABC’s “World News”‘ 7.6 million (both 5.3 ratings, 11 shares) in the evening news competition. The “CBS Evening News” had 5.9 million viewers (4, 8).

A ratings point represents 1,145,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation’s estimated 114.5 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of Oct. 13-19, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 19.28 million; “NCIS,” CBS, 18.04 million; “Dancing With the Stars,” ABC, 17.77 million; “Desperate Housewives,” ABC, 15.49 million; “The Mentalist,” CBS, 14.94 million; “Dancing With the Stars Results,” ABC, 14.82 million; “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC, 14.8 million; “Two and a Half Men,” CBS, 14.72 million; “60 Minutes,” CBS, 14.53 million; “House,” Fox, 13.27 million.