washingtonpost.com  > Columns > TV Column

CBS Wins the Week as 'CSI' Logs a High Body Count

By Lisa de Moraes
Wednesday, August 4, 2004; Page C07

Prime-time goings-on at the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday were by far the most-watched TV events last week, averaging 21 million, 20 million and 28 million viewers, respectively. But those crowds were spread across multiple broadcast and cable networks. So once again, CBS's body-parts parade, "CSI," goes into the books as the week's most-watched program, with 13.5 million tuning in.

Here's a look at the week's ups and downs:


Director Michael Moore drew more than 3 million viewers as a guest on Bill O'Reilly's show on Fox last week. (Lucian Perkin - Lucian Perkins --The Washington Post)


Add the TV Column to your personal home page.

___ Arts & Living___
News about the television industry, reviews of shows and more can be found on our Television page.

See what's on TV today, tomorrow or next week with the TV Grid.


_____Free E-mail Newsletters_____
• News Headlines
• Home & Shopping
• Entertainment Best Bets

WINNERS

Cable news. Broadcast's loss was cable's gain at the Democratic National Convention. The we-don't-air-no-stinkin'-infomercial broadcasters all lost audience compared with the Dems' confab in 2000, but the cable newsers were up substantially in prime time: CNN by 42 percent, MSNBC by 70 percent, and Fox News Channel by a whopping 373 percent. CNN pulled in more viewers than FNC each night, though it barely squeaked ahead on Tuesday, when Bill O'Reilly's popular FNC show nailed more than 3 million viewers, compliments of guest Michael Moore. CNN logged more than 2 million viewers each night of the convention, reaching nearly 3 million Thursday; even MSNBC cracked 1 million every night. But on Friday it was back to business as usual: CNN with a prime-time average of 840,000 viewers, FNC leading with 1.5 million and MSNBC fallen back to 297,000.

"Amish in the City." The debut of UPN's controversial reality series drew 5.4 million viewers, the network's best Wednesday showing in more than two years. The curious included all ages; "Amish" not only beat ABC, CBS and NBC among key young demographics, it also ranked No. 1 in its 8-10 p.m. Wednesday slot among 25-to-54-year-olds.

"Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy." ABC sure had a great idea with this mom-swapping thing. Too bad they let this Fox ripoff get on the air first. Last week's second episode garnered 9.3 million viewers, a gain of nearly 2 million viewers from the show's debut, and finished first for the week among 18-to-34-year-olds.

"Blue Collar TV." WB's bubba sketch comedy show attracted 5.4 million viewers, which, ironically, is the same number as watched the debut of "Amish in the City." We're fairly certain that says something about America, and when we figure out what that is, we will let you know. Anyway, it's WB's second-largest audience ever in the Thursday 8 p.m. half-hour. Plus, the new series -- which stars comics Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engball and Larry the Cable Guy, three men we're pretty sure have never watched a WB show -- copped the network's best ratings in its time period among some of those key demographics that advertisers slobber over since the 2001 premiere of WB's sexy-witch-sisters series "Charmed." It's a world gone mad.

LOSERS

"American Candidate." Showtime's faux presidential race reality series debuted on Sunday. It averaged 128,000 viewers. That is not a typo.

"The Simple Life 2." Last week, opposite the Amish, interest in Paris and Nicole was down to about 7.6 million viewers. And although that's more than watched the Democratic convention on all the cable networks combined any day last week, it's still the lousiest showing ever for "Simple Life," unless you include that bogus "lost episode" Fox threw together at the end of the first season. That said, last week's episode still managed to finish No. 1 among teens.

NBC. The peacock network appeared hit hardest by the convention coverage among the Big Three broadcasters, plunging to its smallest weekly audience since at least January 1995 -- 5.45 million viewers. CBS won the week with 7.8 million viewers, but that's its smallest weekly crowd since September '03. And, because most every week at ABC is a tough week, its total haul of 5.1 million is its smallest audience since four weeks ago.

The week's 10 most-watched programs, in order, were: CBS's "CSI," "CSI: Miami," "60 Minutes," "Cold Case," Sunday movie, "Amazing Race" and "Two and a Half Men"; Fox's "Trading Spouses"; CBS's "Everybody Loves Raymond"; and ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."


© 2004 The Washington Post Company