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Why a Steve Carell Exit Could—Gasp!—Help The Office

Steve Carell, The Office NBC Photo: Justin Lubin

How important is The Office to NBC? Why could a Steve Carell departure help? And is it wrong to suggest that Capt. Phil showed up Betty White

The answers—and more questions—in the latest TV ratings quiz:

1. True or false: The Office is NBC's most-important scripted show. Yup. Where it really counts, The Office rules. In the just-completed season, its audience of advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds was a whopping 35 percent bigger than Law & Order: SVU's; its lead over 30 Rock was nearly as large.

2. True or false: There is an upside to NBC's most-important scripted show losing its most important actor. In the short term, yes. At least that's what recent history tells us. The anticipation of William Petersen's last season (or half-season, really) on CSI helped the show to its best ratings in two years.

3. True or false: In the long term, no good can come of Dunder-Mifflin minus Michael Scott. Pretty much, yeah. Just ask CSI, down about 3 million viewers this past season in the full-on, post-Petersen era. At least CSI had 3 million viewers to give—it's still a top draw. If The Office lost 3 million viewers, it'd be Parks and Recreation, which isn't a bad thing, mind you. Unless you're NBC.

4. What does it take to outdo Betty White? A heart-wrenching episode of The Deadliest Catch, featuring the stroke that felled Capt. Phil Harris, who died in February. The reality show ended up in cable's Top 10, with a series-record 5.4 million viewers, the latest weekly Nielsen rankings show. White's Hot in Cleveland, last week's phenom, cooled slightly, but only slightly, down to 3.4 million viewers.

5. Michael Jackson or Chris Brown? Are you kidding? Nielsen-wise, last year's Jackson tribute-driven BET Awards had it all over last weekend's Brown-manned Jackson tribute: 10.7 million viewers to 7.4 million. Smaller audience or no, the BETs reigned as cable's most-watched show of the week. 

6. What's the best thing to happen to the Daytime Emmys? Not being on the CW anymore. Sunday's CBS telecast was up more than 100 percent—100 percent!—from last year's CW-aired show: 5.6 million viewers versus 2.7 million. Overall, the Regis Philbin-hosted affair, accented by a Dick Clark tribute, posted the Daytime Emmys' biggest audience since 2007.

7. Why won't we tell you Saturday's soccer match between the United States and Ghana was the most-watched soccer game in U.S. history, with nearly 20 million viewers on ABC and Univision? Because we lost, and we no longer care about soccer. You know, just like before.

Here's a look at the 10 most-watched, all-new broadcast network shows for the week ended Sunday, per Nielsen Media Research:

  1. America's Got Talent (Wednesday), 12.4 million
  2. America's Got Talent (Tuesday), 11.7 million
  3. Wipeout (Tuesday), 9.5 million
  4. The Bachelorette, 8.3 million
  5. Wipeout (Thursday), 7.9 million
  6. Rookie Blue, 7.2 million
  7. So You Think You Can Dance (Thursday), 6.4 million
  8. Hell's Kitchen, 6.378 million
  9. So You Think You Can Dance (Wednesday), 6.377 million
  10. Flashpoint, 6.3 million

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Stay up on Office politics at Watch With Kristin.

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