- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 13, 2009

NEW YORK

A week before the return of its own championship contender, “American Idol,” Fox took advantage of championship-chasing football teams to earn a ratings crown.

An estimated 26.8 million people watched Florida beat Oklahoma last week for college football’s championship, according to Nielsen Media Research. The National Football League’s Arizona-Carolina playoff game and the Fiesta Bowl’s Texas-Ohio State contest were also among last week’s most-watched prime-time shows.

CBS’ “The Mentalist” with Simon Baker continued to gather steam as TV’s top newcomer. The crime-solving drama had its biggest audience ever last week and was watched more than any non-football programming.

For the week, Fox averaged 14.2 million viewers, CBS was second with 11.7 million viewers, NBC had 8.3 million and ABC had 7.8 million. Following were the CW with 1.8 million, My Network TV with 1.7 million and ION Television with 650,000.

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with an average of 3.9 million viewers, Telemundo had 1.3 million , TeleFutura 640,000 and Azteca 120,000. NBC’s “Nightly News” topped the evening newscasts with an average of 9.9 million viewers. ABC’s “World News” was second with 9.1 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 7.3 million viewers.

For the week of Jan. 5 through Jan.11, the top five shows, their networks and viewerships were: 1) College Football: Oklahoma vs. Florida, Fox, 26.7 million; 2) NFL Football: Arizona vs. Carolina, Fox, 23.7 million; 3)”AFC Football Post-Game,” CBS, 21.3 million; 4)”The Mentalist,” CBS, 19.6 million; and 5) “NCIS,” CBS, 19.1 million.

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