By Lisa de Moraes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
CBS won the week but ballroom dancing and election coverage -- yes, election coverage -- put ABC within spitting distance.
Here's a look at the week's steps and splats:
"Dancing With the Stars." Penultimate week of ABC's ballroom dancing competition proved the perfect lead-in to midterm-election coverage and pushed ABC to within 300,000 viewers of front-runner CBS for the week. Joey Lawrence's last quickstep and rumba clocked nearly 22 million viewers -- the show's biggest audience ever, excepting finales -- catapulting Charlie Gibson over perennial news front-runner NBC to the top spot for election coverage. To recap: "Dancing" skews older, older viewers vote, voters like dancing, candidates demonstrating dance ability will win elections. All three editions of "Dancing" -- Tuesday recap special, Tuesday competition and Wednesday results show -- made the week's Top 10.
"SpongeBob SquarePants." The absorbing "SBSP" marathon clocked Nickelodeon's best day ever Friday, and prime-time's Nick debut of 2004's "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie" attracted more viewers (7.3 million) than ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" rerun and "Men in Trees," Fox's "Vanished" and "Trading Spouses," and CW's "Friday Night Smackdown!"
"Heroes." With last week's average of nearly 15 million viewers, "Heroes" became NBC's top-rated first-year drama since "ER" in '94. It's also now the top-rated new series on any network, toppling ABC's "Ugly Betty."
"CSI"/ "Criminal Minds." Each CBS series beat its formidable ABC time-slot competition, "Grey's Anatomy" and "Lost," respectively.
"Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" was picked up despite its small audience because that crowd, while small, is upscale and educated. And if you want people to think you are, too, start watching the show, NBC suggests.
"Friday Night Lights" was picked up despite its small audience because that crowd, while small, is very young. It is in fact the third-youngest-skewing show on NBC, behind only "The Office" and "Heroes." NBC is, in fact, two years younger this season than it was a year ago.
"What About Brian" was picked up despite its small audience because . . . well, you've got me on this one.
"Justice," moved to Monday at 9, replacing "Vanished," has managed to do an even lousier number -- 5.9 million viewers last week -- making "Vanished" look good in comparison. Fox pulled the show.
"Vanished." Moved to Friday night, the show plunged last week to 2.9 million viewers and clocked Fox's smallest audience ever among 18-to-49-year-olds in the time slot.
"The O.C." Special Wednesday showing to goose viewer interest (after dismal season debut previous week) copped only 3.5 million viewers, falling to even CW's "One Tree Hill." "The Over."
Country Music Association Awards. Moved from CBS to ABC, the CMA trophy show logged its smallest audience ever but, ABC noted, gained ground among some younger viewers, sloughing off the older ones, which, in ABC's book, is a good thing.
"CBS Evening News." For the first time since Katie Couric became anchor, CBS's evening newscast is down compared with a year ago -- to about 7.8 million viewers from about 8.1 million.
The week's 10 most watched programs, in order, were: ABC's "Desperate Housewives" and "Dancing With the Stars"; CBS's "CSI"; ABC's "Dancing" results show and "Grey's Anatomy"; NBC's Sunday football; ABC's "Dancing" recap show; CBS's "Criminal Minds"; ABC's "Lost"; and CBS's "CSI: Miami."