As a nation clicked off its television sets in the week leading up to the holiday weekend, CBS's reliable roundup of repeats gave it a victory in the Nielsens ratings race.
The network had 12 of the top 20 shows, including doubles of "CSI," "Without a Trace" and "Navy NCIS," averaging 8 million viewers for the week. NBC's average audience was 6.5 million. Fox landed two shows in the top 10 -- its only summer hit, "The Simple Life 2," and NASCAR's Pepsi 400 -- but was a distant third with 4.9 million viewers. ABC, whose top-rated show was a "Primetime Thursday" interview with Paula Jones that placed 22nd among all shows, brought up the rear with 4.7 million.
The four networks averaged about 6 million viewers for the week, which is less than half of what they pulled in during the regular season.
In the duel of "fireworks spectaculars," CBS took the honors. Its "Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular," featuring the diverse voices of Broadway's Jennifer Holliday and heavy metal's David Lee Roth, drew nearly 7 million viewers, compared with the 6.7 million who tuned in to NBC's "Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular." ABC's holiday offering, a taped broadcast of the annual Ford's Theatre gala, drew just over 4 million.
Washington-based BET provided the biggest fireworks last week, racking up the largest audience in its 24-year history. Tuesday's fourth annual "BET Awards" drew 5.7 million to beat the prime-time lineups of the WB, UPN and Fox, and come within spitting distance of ABC's 6 million viewers that night. BET's previous high mark was last year's "BET Awards," which garnered 5.5 million viewers.
As Ken Jennings continues his historic winning streak on the game show "Jeopardy!," viewer interest has spiked. For the week of June 21 (last week's numbers won't be available until tomorrow), the syndicated show averaged 11.1 million viewers, about 2 million more than watched at the same time last year.
The week's 10 most watched programs, in order, were: CBS's "CSI," "CSI: Miami," Thursday 10 p.m. "Without a Trace" and "Two and a Half Men"; NBC's "Law & Order"; CBS's "Everybody Loves Raymond"; NBC's "Law & Order: SVU"; CBS's Thursday 8 p.m. "Without a Trace"; Fox's "The Simple Life 2" and NASCAR Pepsi 400.