NEW YORK — The season premiere of "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" on CBS drew nearly 23.5 million people to the screen last week, a bright spot in what has already been a lackluster start to the fall TV season for the big networks.
The forensics whodunit was the only prime-time show to surpass 20 million viewers for the week, Nielsen Media Research said Tuesday.
There were pockets of encouraging signs for the networks, including strong samplings for new shows "Eleventh Hour" on CBS and "Life on Mars" on ABC, which are competing at the key time slot of 10 p.m. Thursday. Both had more viewers last week than the former kingpin of that time slot, NBC's "ER," which is in its last season.
NBC had 10.9 million viewers for its prime-time "Saturday Night Live" political special Thursday, the first of three leading up to the election. It eclipsed anything else in NBC's Thursday lineup.
ABC is facing trouble with its Wednesday night lineup of second-year shows. "Private Practice" had 7.4 million viewers last week, but neither "Pushing Daisies" nor "Dirty Sexy Money" cracked the 6 million mark.
The CW's decision to farm its Sunday night lineup out to an independent production team, Media Rights Capital, isn't looking good, either. One of their shows, "Easy Money," had only 753,000 viewers on what is normally television's most popular night.
The five biggest broadcasters together averaged 37.62 million prime-time viewers last week. For the same week in 2007, the five networks had 42.32 million viewers, according to Nielsen.
The hot political campaign and economic crisis drove viewers to news networks last week. Spanish-language networks are also on an upswing; the four Spanish broadcasters averaged 5.74 million viewers in prime time last week, up from 4.81 million the year before. The fledgling My Network TV also doubled its audience from a year ago.
For the week, CBS led with an average of 11 million viewers (6.9 rating, 11 share) and won among the 18-to-49-year-old audience advertisers are keen on. ABC had 9.6 million viewers (6.3, 10), Fox 8 million (5.0, 8), NBC 7 million (4.4, 7), the CW 2.1 million (1.4, 2), My Network TV 1.6 million (1.1, 2) and ION Television 500,000 viewers (0.3, 1).
Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with a prime-time average of 3.9 million viewers (2.0 rating, 3 share), Telemundo had 1.1 million (0.6, 1), TeleFutura 590,000 (0.3, 1) and Azteca 150,000 (0.1, 0).
ABC's "World News" and NBC's "Nightly News" finished in a virtual tie atop the evening news ratings in a week of economic calamity, with the slight edge going to ABC. ABC averaged 7.89 million viewers (5.4, 11) and NBC had 7.85 million (5.3, 11). "CBS Evening News" had 5.9 million viewers (4.0, 8).
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 Oct. 6-12, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," CBS, 23.49 million; "Dancing With the Stars," ABC, 18.59 million; "NCIS," CBS, 16.3 million; "Criminal Minds," CBS, 16.19 million; "CSI: NY," CBS, 15.87 million; "Desperate Housewives," ABC, 15.51 million; "Dancing With the Stars Results," ABC, 15.07 million; "Grey's Anatomy," ABC, 14.8 million; "The OT," Fox, 14.23 million; "Two and a Half Men," CBS, 14.07 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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