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Hoops and Golf Score Big for CBS

By Lisa de Moraes
Wednesday, April 13, 2005; Page C07

Tiger Woods and hoops put CBS out front last week. Here's a look at the week's birdies and bogies.


More than 9 million people were up early to watch the funeral Mass of Pope John Paul II at the Vatican. (J. Scott Applewhite -- AP)

Pope John Paul II's funeral. More than 9 million people got up at the ungodly hour of 4 a.m. Eastern time, 1 a.m. Pacific on Friday to watch coverage of the pope's funeral from Rome on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, WGN, Telemundo, Azteca America or Univision. The Associated Press reported that Nielsen had no immediate numbers on normal television viewing at that hour. Which raises the question, "Why the heck not?" Isn't Nielsen supposed to be the final word in TV viewing stats? The only comparison we can make with certainty is that a whole lot more people watched the funeral than had watched NBC's "Mork & Mindy" movie or "Fear Factor," Fox's "Nanny 911," ABC's "The Bachelor" or "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition -- How'd They Do That?" or anything on WB or UPN the night before in prime time. Which is pretty impressive.

"Desperate Housewives." News of a catfight among the "DH" women during a Vanity Fair cover shoot sent nearly 26 million viewers scurrying to the ABC drama series Sunday, making it the week's most watched program and the first series to top both editions of "American Idol" in any given week among the 18-to-49-year-olds advertisers crave. It's enough to drive a gal to suspect the whole thing was ginned up as a publicity stunt.

Tiger Woods. Nearly 15 million golf fans and non- were glued to their TVs Sunday to see Tiger Woods's sudden-death win over Chris DiMarco at the Masters tournament. That's the franchise's biggest audience since 2001 -- when Woods won in front of a TV audience of more than 19 million.

"Supervolcano." Yellowstone National Park sits atop what is arguably one of the largest active volcanoes in the world, Discovery Channel says on its Web site. It also notes that hundreds of thousands of years pass between eruptions and that before it erupts again -- tens if not hundreds of thousands of years from now -- we will have decades if not centuries of warning signs. Fortunately, Discovery did not let these facts stand in the way of its production or telecast of its special-effects natural disaster extravaganza "Supervolcano" in which thousands of people were seen running for their lives as Yellowstone blows its lid, nor did it give the network pause when it ran promos that went something like this: "This is a true story -- it just hasn't happened yet" and "based on the latest predictions of leading scientists." For which the 5.1 million of us who tuned in are grateful. "Supervolcano" was Discovery's most watched program since the special-effects natural disaster extravaganza "Pompeii: The Last Day" clocked nearly 5 million viewers in February, making it the channel's most watched program since its special-effects dead Egyptian extravaganza "Nefertiti Resurrected" drew nearly 5.5 million in August '03. A real win-win.


"Miss USA." The annual chick pageant experienced viewer shrinkage of nearly 40 percent this past Monday compared with a year ago, coming in at 8.1 million viewers. Among the 18-to-49-year-olds NBC targets, the pageant fell 35 percent. Not coincidentally, its lead-in, the annual Miss USA edition of "Fear Factor," in which the ladies do hard things in bikinis and which last year did so much to drive viewers into the pageant, dropped 37 percent. "FF" got clobbered by competing reality series "Nanny 911" and "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition -- How'd They Do That?" And the pageant got clobbered by, among other things, an original "CSI: Miami"; last year it faced a rerun. Maybe they shouldn't have set Miss USA in Baltimore after all.

"Starlet." The season finale of Faye Dunaway's worst career mistake yet logged 2.6 million viewers last Tuesday night; overall the reality series, in which actress wannabes competed for a cameo on a WB drama series, averaged 2.1 million viewers, putting it ahead of only 10 other shows this season -- eight of which are encore presentations of series, like the second broadcast of "America's Next Top Model" and even "Starlet."

"Simple Life." Paris Hilton continues her slow slide into who-cares-dom, last week averaging 5.1 million viewers. It was the Fox reality series's smallest audience ever except for that one-time "lost" episode last November.

The week's 10 most watched programs, in order, were: ABC's "Desperate Housewives"; Fox's Tuesday and Wednesday "American Idol"; CBS's Monday NCAA basketball championship game, "CSI" rerun and "Survivor: Palau"; ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" and "Lost"; and CBS's "60 Minutes" and "Without a Trace" rerun.

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