Washington-based National Geographic Channel reached a milestone this week as the debut of its new Sept. 11 documentary delivered the young network's biggest audience ever.
The two-part "Inside 9/11," which traces the timeline leading up to the deadly attacks in New York and at the Pentagon and their aftermath, averaged slightly more than 2.5 million viewers Sunday and Monday nights. (Part 1 on Sunday drew 2.1 million and Monday's conclusion averaged 3 million.)
Although those are relatively small audiences compared with what the broadcast networks draw, they are solid numbers in the cable universe and even more impressive because the four-year-old network reaches just 55 million homes.
Elsewhere on the cable landscape, the series finale of HBO's "Six Feet Under" drew its best numbers of the season Sunday as nearly 4 million viewers watched the funeral drama close its final coffin.
However, it was the second smallest audience for a finale in the series's five-year history, with last year's closer drawing about 150,000 fewer viewers. The series's fifth season was also its least watched, averaging about 2.5 million viewers. The high point for the HBO drama was its second season, in 2002, when the show averaged slightly more than 5.6 million.
In the broadcast world last week, CBS won for the 12th time in a row, relying on its stable of repeats that included "CSI" and its spinoffs as well as "Without a Trace."
Tommy Lee went off to college on NBC but only a small audience was there to see him. The premiere of the reality series "Tommy Lee Goes to College," chronicling the raucous rocker's adventures at the University of Nebraska, managed slightly more than 5 million viewers last Tuesday, with a second episode that immediately followed drawing 6 million.
The episodes placed third for the night in the time slot, behind CBS's "Big Brother 6" and repeat episodes of "According to Jim" and "Rodney" on ABC. Still, NBC bragged that the show increased the network's audience among the coveted 18-to-49 crowd by more than 50 percent in the Tuesday 9 p.m. time slot where the disastrous "I Want to Be a Hilton" had been airing.
The seventh annual "Teen Choice Awards" on Fox drew its smallest crowd in franchise history last Tuesday as only 4.9 million watched the affair hosted by Rob Schneider and Hilary Duff. In its heyday in 2001, the ceremony drew 8 million viewers.
The week's 10 most watched programs, in order, were: CBS's "CSI," "Without a Trace," "60 Minutes," "NCIS," "CSI: Miami" and "Cold Case"; NBC's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"; CBS's "Two and a Half Men" at 9:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.; and NBC's "Law & Order: Criminal Intent."