Yup, that was a real blowout, all right.
And, no, we're not talking about the Oakland Raiders' 41-24 takedown of the Tennessee Titans. We're talking about the down-and-dirty Raiders-Titans' playoff game trouncing its glitzy black-tie competitor, the 60th Annual Golden Globes.
The game, in which the Raiders played their way into the upcoming Super Bowl, kept 41.5 million football fans stuck to their recliners. The CBS telecast easily bested its chief Sunday night rival. The Globes, in which Chicago and The Hours won their way into top Oscar contention, was watched by 20.1 million on NBC.
If the Raiders wanted a real fight, perhaps they should have squared off against Simon Cowell. The nasty American Idol pop arbiter and his more encouraging comrades launched their search for the all new Kelly Clarkson Tuesday on Fox with a 90-minute, second-season premiere watched by an estimated 26.5 million people, per Nielsen Media Research overnight numbers.
The show posted Fox's biggest-ever ratings for a non-sports event, the network said.
Too bad Cowell, or Clarkson, wasn't available for the Globes. Total viewership for the Oscar tuneup was down more than 10 percent from the 2002 telecast. By comparison, total viewership for the AFC Championship Game was up more than 30 percent.
The Raiders-Titans contest was the most-watched primetime show for the TV week ended last Sunday. It helped CBS post a big win over NBC, the Eyeball's programs eyeballed, on average, by 16.6 million, compared to the Peacock's 13.8 million.
Given football's hearty numbers this season--even Monday Night Football posted gains despite lopsided score after lopsided score--third-place ABC, which averaged 9.3 million viewers, will look to Sunday's Super Bowl for salvation. The mega game, pitting the Raiders against the Tampa Bay Bucaneers, is expected to idle 130 million channel surfers--at least for a few hours.
Devoid of a big game last week, ABC was shut out of the Top 10. The Bachelorette did its darndest, though, to please the bosses. The commitment-minded reality series finished in 11th place, with 17.4 million viewers--matching its debut week performance.
Fox's Joe Millionaire, meanwhile, showed signs of mortality. To be sure, the weekly contest to see which women think construction-worker Evan Marriott could possibly manage a $50 million fortune remained a top draw. It finished the week in ninth place with 17.5 million viewers. Still, that's already off 1 million viewers from its January 6 premiere.
Joe Millionaire repeats inserted into Fox's Thursday night schedule tanked, with the first installment drawing 7.9 million viewers (60th place), and the second, 6.8 million (72nd place).
American Idol's return comes just in time for Fox. The network ran a distant fourth last week, averaging just 7.9 million viewers. Even the promise of dwarves going head-to-head with an elephant in a test of sheer strength (for the purposes of the special, Man vs. Beast) couldn't break Fox's season-long slump. (For the record, Man vs. Beast placed 50th, watched by 9.2 million students of animal behavior.)
The WB's two new reality series slipped. High School Reunion (92nd place, 3.92 million) and The Surreal Life (93rd place, 3.9 million) both underperformed for a netlet that, overall, averaged 4.2 million viewers.
CBS' own American Idol-style series, the all-new Star Search, held its own. Its back-to-back Wednesday and Thursday editions averaged 13.8 million viewers. The Thursday night broadcast climbed all the way to 14th place, boasting 15 million viewers.
Over at NBC, a post-wedding Will & Grace again failed to make the Top 10. This week, the sitcom finished in 13th, with just under 16 million viewers.
Here's a rundown of the 10 most-watched shows for the week ended Sunday, according to Nielsen Media Research:
1. AFC Championship Game: Tennessee Titans at Oakland Raiders, CBS, 41.5 million viewers 2. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 27.9 million
3. Friends, NBC, 23.7 million
4. E.R., NBC, 21.8 million
5. AFC Championship Postgame, CBS, 21 million
6. 60th Annual Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 20 million
7. Law & Order, NBC, 19 million
8. Scrubs, NBC, 18 million
9. Joe Millionaire, Fox, 17.52 million
10. Without a Trace, CBS, 17.5 million