- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 18, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - A big challenge of being a fourth-place network is getting the attention of viewers even when you have something new or intriguing, as NBC learned last week.

Two shows that premiered on the network barely moved the Nielsen Media Research needle, most notably “Kings.” The ambitious two-hour opener of the modern-day tale of David & Goliath, starring Ian McShane, was seen by only 6.1 million viewers last week.

That’s less than half the audience ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” got at the same time. It was even slightly less than the collection of old “Saturday Night Live” skits that ran in the same time slot the week before _ giving network executives less incentive to spend money on expensive scripted shows.

NBC’s reality show “Chopping Block” had only 3.8 million viewers in its first run, well short of the 7.7 million people who watched the series it was obviously modeled upon, Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen.”

Fewer than 11 million people watched the return of original stars George Clooney, Noah Wyle, Eriq La Salle and Julianna Margulies to “ER” last Thursday. That’s the biggest audience for the show in two years, but still about a third of what those actors routinely drew during their first runs. NBC noted that Clooney’s appearance was largely kept under wraps and not promoted.

And in this era of economic woe, Olympian Michael Phelps was clobbered by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in a TV duel. “60 Minutes,” with a Bernanke interview, was seen by 12.9 million viewers while a “Dateline NBC” interview at the same time with Phelps discussing his drug use was seen by 4.3 million people, Nielsen said.

For the week, CBS averaged 11.1 million viewers (6.9 rating, 11 share), Fox had 10.9 million (6.4, 10), ABC 8.3 million (5.3, 9), NBC 6.1 million (3.9, 6), the CW 1.8 million (1.2, 2), My Network TV 1.6 million (1.0, 2) and ION Television 580,000 (0.4, 1).

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with a 3.8 million viewer average (2.0 rating, 3 share), Telemundo had 1.2 million (0.6, 1), TeleFutura 680,000 (0.3, 1) and Azteca 230,000 (0.1, 0).

NBC’s “Nightly News” topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.9 million viewers (5.9, 12). ABC’s “World News” was second with 7.8 million (5.3, 11) and the “CBS Evening News” had 6.4 million viewers (4.3, 9).

A ratings point represents 1,145,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation’s estimated 114.5 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of March 9-16, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: “American Idol” (Tuesday), Fox, 25.77 million; “American Idol” (Wednesday), Fox, 25.55 million; “Dancing With the Stars,” ABC, 22.83 million; “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 17.13 million viewers; “Desperate Housewives,” ABC, 14.6 million; “Criminal Minds,” CBS, 14.34 million; “The Mentalist,” CBS, 14.32 million; “CSI: Miami,” CBS, 14.22 million; “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC, 13.64 million; “CSI: NY,” CBS, 13.63 million.


ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox and My Network TV are units of News Corp. NBC and Telemundo are owned by General Electric Co. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks. TeleFutura is a division of Univision. Azteca America is a wholly owned subsidiary of TV Azteca S.A. de C.V.


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