- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 20, 2006

CBS has ‘Miami’ heat

ABC enjoyed increased viewer interest in the thrilling NBA championship series between Dallas and Miami, but basketball wasn’t enough to beat the rerun kings over at CBS.

Three games of the Heat-Mavericks duel were among the four most-watched prime-time programs last week, led at the top by Game 5, which was watched by 14.3 million persons, Associated Press reports, citing data released yesterday by Nielsen Media Research. A “CSI: Miami” rerun — a different kind of Miami heat — was the interloper.

Viewership for the NBA Finals overall is up 12 percent over last year’s series between the San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons, Nielsen said. Meanwhile, NBC was stuck with the least-popular winter sport. Its sixth-game telecast of the Stanley Cup finals between Carolina and Edmonton, Alberta, drew 2.9 million viewers last weekend.

While the basketball helped ABC to a narrow win last week among the 18-to-49-year-old viewers advertisers love, CBS was the most popular network among all viewers. Eleven of the 13 reruns that populated Nielsen’s top 25 last week were CBS shows. That’s by design: CBS favors series with stories that begin and end in each episode instead of serials, because people are more inclined to watch reruns.

For the week, CBS averaged 8.1 million viewers, ABC had 6.8 million viewers, Fox had 5.8 million, and NBC had 5.3 million. Following were UPN with 2.2 million, the WB with 1.8 million and the I network (formerly Pax TV) with 580,000.

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with 3.2 million viewers, Telemundo had 860,000 and TeleFutura had 630,000.

For the week of June 12 through 18, the top five shows, their networks and viewerships were: NBA Finals Game 5: Dallas at Miami, ABC, 14.32 million. “CSI: Miami,” CBS, 13.49 million; NBA Finals Game 3: Dallas at Miami, ABC, 12.25 million; NBA Finals Game 4: Dallas at Miami, ABC, 11.56 million; and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 11.17 million.

No escaping Nick

Wherever you go, Nickelodeon can be there, too.

Nick Jr., the cable channel’s preschool programming block, now can be seen using Web and mobile platforms — a move that will allow viewers to see its newest animated preschool show before it hits TV, Reuters news agency reports.

The network yesterday introduced music videos and character segments of “Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!” simultaneously on wireless carriers, Nick Jr. Video, Nick Jr.’s broadband video service, on air and over “The Wubbcast,” a video podcast of preschooler programming.

A total of 10 videos and character segments will premiere over an 11-week period, and the 26-episode series will begin its linear broadcast on Nick Jr. on Aug. 28.

The initiative is the latest in the network’s efforts to use emerging platforms to capture young audiences. Earlier this month, Nickelodeon premiered three new original minipilots for its Nick Jr. programming block on mobile phones before introducing them on broadband service, Nick Jr. Video and television.

“This gives us a lot more tools to reach parents and preschoolers wherever they are,” company spokeswoman Jodi Davis told Reuters, “and it gives kids an exciting way to meet our characters.”

‘Lost’ and found

Former “Lost” co-star Ian Somerhalder has found a new gig as the title character in “Marco Polo,” RHI Entertainment’s miniseries about the Venetian traveler, Reuters reports.

Veteran actors Brian Dennehy and B.D. Wong also have been cast in the project, along with Mark Jax and Alan Shearman.

“Polo,” from writer-producer Ron Hutchinson — who recently penned ABC’s two-part “The Ten Commandments” miniseries — chronicles Polo’s 13th-century travels to Mongolia, where he was accepted as an envoy into the court of Kublai Khan (Mr. Dennehy) and spent 20 years on a perilous adventure.

Mr. Wong will play Polo’s servant and right-hand man, while Mr. Jax (NBC’s “In the Beginning”) and Mr. Shearman (“A Boyfriend for Christmas”) will play Polo’s father, Niccolo Polo, and uncle Maffeo Polo, respectively.

Director Kevin Connor (“In the Beginning”) is helming “Polo,” which began production this week in China.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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