- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 30, 2008

NEW YORK — Viewers celebrated the holidays last week in large part by staying away from their TV sets.

Only two prime-time shows reached more than 12 million viewers all week, according to Nielsen Media Research. They were NBC’s telecast of Sunday’s Denver-San Diego football game, and CBS‘ “60 Minutes,” a special on Barack Obama that was helped by directly following another National Football League game.

NBC’s “Today” show proved it has little chance of expanding beyond the morning. The show’s second-ever prime-time special, a review of some of the year’s big events, was seen by 6.1 million people on NBC — not much bigger than “Today’s” morning audience.

For the 14th time this year, Univision quietly accomplished a feat that attests to its growing power. On Dec. 26, it beat all the English-language broadcast networks among the 18-to-49-year-old demographic, the one most eagerly sought by advertisers. Its big shows that night were the telenovelas “Fuego en la Sangre” (“Burning for Revenge”) and “Cuidado con el Angel” (“Don’t Mess With the Angel”).

CBS averaged 7.6 million prime-time viewers to win the week. NBC was second with 6.3 million, Fox had 5.4 million, and ABC 4.7 million. Following were My Network TV with 1.6 million, the CW with 1.3 million and ION Television with 670,000.

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision averaged 3.2 million, Telemundo had 1 million, TeleFutura 590,000 and Azteca 170,000. NBC’s “Nightly News” topped the evening newscasts with an average of 9.3 million viewers. ABC’s “World News” was second with 8.8 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 6.8 million viewers.

Based on the first couple of weeks, new host David Gregory is keeping NBC’s “Meet the Press” in first place over the other Sunday political talk shows, Nielsen said.

For the week of Dec. 22 through Dec. 28, the top five shows, their networks and viewerships were : 1) “Sunday Night Football: Denver at San Diego,” NBC, 14.8 million; 2) “60 Minutes,” CBS, 14.1 million; 3) “Two and a Half Men,” CBS, 11.8 million; 4) “The Mentalist” (Tuesday, 10 p.m.), CBS, 10.6 million; and 5)”NCIS” (Tuesday, 9 p.m.), CBS, 10.6 million.

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