TV Ratings: CBS Lead Grows

The battle is on atop the ratings chart. Actually, CBS has already taken a commanding lead on the season’s main ratings races, but the war for second (or to avoid being third) between NBC and ABC is only beginning. Although CBS romped to a laugher of a ratings win for the week ending Sunday, Oct. 12, the next two networks were neck-and-neck both overall and in the key demographic.

Overall, CBS won the week with a 9.0 rating/15 share, pulling in 13.8 million viewers per night. NBC grabbed second with a 6.5/11 and 9.87 million viewers, but ABC’s 6.4/10 and 9.7 million were close behind. Boosted only slightly by the baseball playoffs, FOX was fourth with a 5.2/9 and 7.8 million viewers. FOX’s ratings will almost certainly improve as the Red Sox and Yankees stage their seemingly annual October grudge match. On the netlet side, The WB did a 2.7/4 and 4.02 million as UPN improved to a 2.5/4 and 3.71 million.

CBS also won among adults 18-49, doing a 4.2 rating in the demographic the advertisers crave most. ABC and NBC both had identical 3.8 ratings, but ABC had the smallest of advantages. FOX was next with a solid 3.0 rating. The WB had a 1.7 demographic rating for the week and UPN had a 1.5 rating.

The week’s most watched program was CBS’ “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” which attracted 28.4 million viewers and a 17.4/26. The Jerry Bruckheimer forensic drama factory was quite fertile for CBS as the week’s second and third most watched shows were “Without a Trace” (13.9/22) and “CSI: Miami.” Bruckheimer’s shop also yielded “CSI: NY” (11.0/18, 9th), “Cold Case” (10.0/16, 13th) and a special Wednesday “CSI: Miami” (9.0/14, 15th). Although it doesn’t come from Bruckheimer, “NCIS” (9.5/15, 14th) certainly comes from a similar investigative cloth.

CBS’ lighter offerings were led by “Everybody Loves Raymond” (11.4/17), which tied “Survivor: Vanuatu” (11.4/18) for fifth. “Two and a Half Men” (10.8/16, 10th) and “60 Minutes” (8.4/15, 20th) also made the Top 20 for CBS.

NBC’s Thursday line-up now regularly finishes behind CBS’, but Must-See TV still yielded most of the network’s most popular shows. “ER,” somewhat vanquished by “Without a Trace,” still placed a strong No. 5 with an 11.4/18. Although “The Apprentice 2” was soundly beaten by “CSI,” it still did a 10.6/16 for No. 11. Comedies “Joey” (8.7/14, 16th) and “Will & Grace” (8.5/13, 17th) remained respectable despite continued ratings declines.

Also sliding was “Law & Order.” The Wednesday mothership, long a Top 10 staple, was No. 17 with an 8.5/14.

ABC’s string of new hits stands in stark contrast to NBC’s aging lineups. The second week of “Desperate Housewives” held much of the boffo premiere audience, doing a 12.1/18 for No. 4 and the third episode of “Lost” remained strong with a 10.4/17 for No. 12. Also making the Top 20 for ABC were “Monday Night Football” at No. 8 with an 11.2/19 and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” at No. 17 with an 8.5/13.

Things were a little bit less rosy for the premiere of ABC’s critically admired drama “life as we know it,” which put up WB-esque numbers at No. 74 with a 3.2/5. The David E. Kelley “Practice” spin-off “Boston Legal” took a drop in its second week, doing a 7.8/13 for No. 24.

FOX’s best was Sunday’s NFL overrun, which was No. 26 with a 7.4/13. The WB was led by “7th Heaven,” at No. 55 with a 4.7/7, while UPN had “America’s Next Top Model” at No. 68 with a 3.5/6.

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