NEW YORK — Viewership is up at the "CBS Evening News" since Scott Pelley took over as anchor in early June. Then again, the same can be said for his rivals.
Pelley's third-place newscast reached an average of 5.55 million viewers during his first five weeks in the anchor chair, an increase of 7 percent over the same five weeks in 2010 when Katie Couric was the anchor, the Nielsen Co. said.
During the same time, Brian Williams' "Nightly News" on NBC averaged 7.88 million people watching each night, and ABC's "World News" with Diane Sawyer had 7.12 million, Nielsen said. In both cases, that's a 5 percent increase over last year.
The network evening news – a format that has seen multiple death sentences over the years – has picked up more than a million viewers collectively since last year.
ABC News, which has been dogged by stories of its willingness to pay licensing fees for material from interview subjects that some critics charge is a thinly-disguised way to pay for interviews, learned again the value of a much-anticipated interview.
Sawyer's two-hour interview special with Jaycee Dugard, a California woman who was kidnapped and held captive by a sex offender for 18 years, was seen by more than 15 million people on Sunday – behind only an episode of NBC's "America's Got Talent" as the most-watched program of the week.
Excerpts of the Dugard interview were also shown on Sawyer's "World News" on Thursday, enabling that broadcast to beat the usually-dominant "Nightly News" that evening.
ABC said Dugard wasn't paid for any material for this interview, but that months ago ABC licensed home movie footage of her for a fee.
In prime time, the reliability of CBS' reruns and the return of "Big Brother" allowed the network to beat NBC and "America's Got Talent" for the weekly ratings crown. CBS averaged 5.9 million viewers in prime time (3.8 rating, 7 share), compared to NBC's 5.8 million (3.5, 6).
In the annual fireworks pop-off, NBC's coverage of the Macy's fireworks display in New York was seen by 8.71 million viewers. CBS' showing of the Boston Pops fireworks had 6.65 million viewers.
ABC was third for the week with an average of 5.2 million viewers (3.2, 6), Fox had 3.5 million (2.1, 7), ION Television had 1.2 million (0.8, 1) and the CW had 720,000 (0.5, 1).
Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with a prime-time average of 3.1 million viewers (1.6 rating, 3 share), Telemundo had 1 million (0.6, 1), TeleFutura had 700,000 (0.4, 1), Azteca had 200,000 and Estrella 190,000 (both 0.1, 0).
NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 7.8 million viewers (5.1, 11). ABC's "World News" was second with 7.4 million (4.9, 10) and the "CBS Evening News" had 5.6 million viewers (3.7, 8).
A ratings point represents 1,147,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 114.7 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.
For the week of July 4-10, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "America's Got Talent" (Tuesday, 9 p.m.), NBC, 15.78 million; "Primetime Special Edition," ABC, 15.07 million; "America's Got Talent" (Wednesday), NBC, 12.85 million; "America's Got Talent" (Tuesday, 8 p.m.), NBC, 12.59 million; "NCIS," CBS, 8.9 million; "Macy's 4th of July Fireworks," NBC, 8.71 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 8.39 million; "Big Brother 13" (Thursday), CBS, 7.89 million; "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," CBS, 7.21 million; "Big Brother 13" (Sunday), CBS, 7.18 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.