Retreads rocked in the ratings last week. Of the 10 most watched programs, nine were repeats; only ABC's Monday preseason football game was original. And all of those repeats belonged to CBS, which notched its 13th consecutive weekly ratings win.

Here's a look at the week's wows and yikes:


"Rome." HBO really carped the diem Sunday when it bagged nearly 4 million viewers for the opening episode of its gory hot-men-in-togas drama. The show had to work especially hard to veni, vidi, vici those viewers, given that HBO did not serve up one of those "Sex and the City" or "Sopranos" lead-ins so sine qua non to the successful HBO series launch. (The debut of "Deadwood," for instance, in March '04, scraped together 5.8 million viewers off a "Sopranos" lead-in of more than 10 million; et tu the summer '01 unveiling of "Six Feet Under," which hung on to 5 million of the 6 mil who'd just finished watching the fourth season-opener of "Sex and the City.") "Rome" followed a whither-goest-"Rome" lead-in show so lame-us maximus HBO didn't even give it a name (calling it "interstitial programming"). It averaged just 1.8 million people following a "Sopranos" rerun that pulled in an even punier 1.1 million.

Katrina coverage. One man's natural disaster, another man's ratings bonanza. Coverage of Hurricane Katrina catapulted cable news networks to stellar ratings in prime time on Sunday. Fox News Channel shot up to more than 4 million viewers -- nearly 380 percent better than the same night last year -- while CNN climbed to nearly 2.3 million, which was an improvement of about 360 percent. Even MSNBC broke the 1 million mark and in so doing improved its year-ago numbers by more than 340 percent.


MTV Video Music Awards. You can call Diddy a lot of things -- Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, Diddy, Sean Combs, Sean Puffy Combs, the list goes on and on -- but you can't call him a good trophy-show host. Which explains, but only in part, why the VMAs this year pulled in a Nicole Richie-thin crowd of just 8 million. That's the lousiest number since 1997 for the annual orgy of couture catastrophes. As recently as 2002, 12 million people wouldn't have dreamed of missing it.

"Being Bobby Brown." Maybe ordering those extra episodes wasn't such a good idea. The Bravo reality series following the singer formerly known as interesting flamed out on Thursday with a series low 683,000 viewers.

The week's 10 most watched programs, in order, were: CBS's "CSI," "60 Minutes," "Two and a Half Men," "Cold Case," "CSI: Miami," "Without a Trace" and another "Two and a Half Men"; ABC's preseason football; and CBS's Sunday rerun movie "Stone Cold" and "NCIS."

HBO's opening episode of its new drama "Rome" drew nearly 4 million viewers with hardly a lead-in show.