NBC is so aggressively upbeat these days, it can only mean one thing: CBS won. Again.
For the fourth straight week in the four-week-old season, the Eyeball, led by top-rated CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, was the most-watched network for the prime-time TV week ended Sunday.
CBS programs averaged 12.7 million viewers to NBC's 12.3 million.
While that stat indicates NBC finished second, the proud Peacock, in its ratings recap, spoke of dominating the week (demographically, of course), posting a "commanding 0.8 of a rating point" victory over CBS.
Sure, why not? At NBC, everything's coming up roses--even stinkers like the shot Just Shoot Me (61st place, 7.96 million viewers) and the never-in The In-Laws (68th place, 6.94 million).
The network even bragged about Providence (40th place, 10.6 million--"the highest-ever numbers since April"), a show it pink-slipped on Monday.
But the overall numbers don't lie (although we're sure that they, too, can be manipulated): NBC is averaging 3 percent total fewer viewers this season, when compared to last; CBS, by comparison, is up 10 percent.
NBC did place five shows in the week's top 10: Friends (second place, 25.8 million); ER (third place, 25.65 million); Will & Grace (sixth place, 19.55 million); Law & Order (eighth place, 19.3 million); and Scrubs (10th place, 17.78 million).
The Eyeball countered with four top 10'ers: CSI (first place, 30.8 million); Survivor: Thailand (fourth place, 22.7 million); Everybody Loves Raymond (fifth place, 20.7 million); and freshman standout CSI: Miami (ninth place, 19 million).
More key, CBS stuck NBC where it hurts, claiming its second straight victory on Must-See Thursday night.
Fox cracked the top 10 for the first time this season, with Game 2 of the 2002 World Series (seventh place, 19.4 million)--make that, the much-maligned Game 2 of the 2002 World Series. Much has been made of how the all-California matchup between the San Francisco Giants and the Anaheim Angels is shaping up to be the lowest-rated Fall Classic ever. But, in the ever-expanding cable universe, just about everything is the lowest-rated something ever. Fact is, Sunday's Game 2 was the most-watched network show of the night.
Overall, baseball powered Fox to a second straight third-place finish. Its shows averaged 10.9 million viewers.
Good thing Fox will have baseball to boost its numbers again when next week's numbers are issued. It certainly won't get any help from David E. Kelley's new legal-eagle series. The much-hyped girls club got clobbered in last night's debut, finishing fifth in the 9-10 p.m. race. Overall, its ratings were off 39 percent from numbers posted in that time slot last season by Kelley's pioneering lawyer girl show Ally McBeal.
Among the also-rans, ABC trailed in fourth, with 9.4 million viewers, the WB finished a strong fifth, with 4.9 million viewers, and UPN pulled up the rear with 4.1 million viewers.
ABC, down 7 percent in overall viewers this season, barely managed to crack the top 20--its highest-rated show of the week was a unusually low-ranked Monday Night Football (19th place, 14.3 million).
The WB saw the light with 7th Heaven (54th place, 8.94 million). Per usual, WWE Smackdown! (83rd place, 5.3 million) was UPN's standout.
ABC's The Bachelor (32nd place, 12.56 million) continued to chip away at former top 10 hit The West Wing (11th place, 15.9 million). Even according to NBC's beloved demographics, Wing ran second in its 9-10 p.m. Wednesday time slot to the swingin' reality show. Onetime It show Dawson's Creek finished the week as the WB's lowest-rated original drama series (97th place, 4.2 million). Another fading Frog entry: Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (102nd place, 3.16 million). Things continued to look bleak for CBS' Robbery Homicide Division (73rd place, 6.25 million) and ABC's MDs (74th place, 6.1 million). Daily Variety even speculated that the Alphabet's doc show, in particular, is a candidate to be pulled for November sweeps. The show's last scheduled airing could be October 30, the paper says, with an episode entitled "R.I.P." NBC issued full-season passes to American Dreams (38th place, 11.1 million) and Boomtown (42nd place, 10.55 million). ABC's George Lopez (30th place, 12.7 million) received a similar vote of confidence Monday.
Here's a rundown of the 10 most-watched shows for the week ended Sunday, according to Nielsen Media Research:
1. CSI, CBS, 30.8 million viewers
2. Friends, NBC, 25.8 million
3. ER, NBC, 25.65 million
4. Survivor: Thailand, CBS, 22.69 million
5. Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS, 20.7 million
6. Will & Grace, NBC, 19.55 million
7. Game 2 of 2002 World Series, Fox, 19.4 million
8. Law & Order, NBC, 19.3 million
9. CSI: Miami, CBS, 19 million
10. Scrubs, NBC, 17.8 million