CBS takes weekly ratings as ‘Mentalist’ soars

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CBS’ new drama ‘The Mentalist’ is turning into a major hit. Last week, the crime show was the most-watched program in prime time for the first time ever, with 18.7 million total viewers tuning in, according to data published Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research.

‘The Mentalist’ is the first new series to hit No. 1 since ABC’s ‘Desperate Housewives’ reached that mark four seasons back, in May 2005.

CBS filled out the top three programs with ‘NCIS’ (18.5 million) and ‘CSI: Crime Scene Investigation’ (17.5 million). The network also had half of the top 10 shows.

As a result, CBS handily took the prize as most-watched network (10.9 million viewers on average), trailed by ABC (8.6 million), Fox (7.7 million) and NBC (7.5 million).


Among the ad-friendly demographic of adults ages 18 to 49, the picture was muddier. Fox technically won the week with a 2.9 rating (ABC and CBS tied at 2.8, NBC had a 2.6), but that was due in large part to an overrun of its NFL match-up Sunday between the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Leaving aside Fox’s football-boosted overtime show, the week’s top 18-49 program was ABC’s ‘Desperate Housewives’ (6.0 rating/14 share).

On basic cable, the week’s top program was ESPN’s Monday night face-off between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans, with 8.9 million viewers.

—Scott Collins