Straying Fromthe Script

It continues to be a cruel summer for scripted series and the networks in general, as alternative formats and newsmagazines keep dominating the prime-time standings, based on viewing estimates issued Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research.

CBS' "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and "Everybody Loves Raymond" were the only drama and comedy series, respectively, to crack last week's Top 10, with reruns of the Ray Romano sitcom having topped overall comedy viewing for nine consecutive weeks.

Buoyed by those shows, its newsmagazines and the repeat movie "Murder at 75 Birch," CBS' audience fell only 6% compared to the corresponding week a year ago, while NBC, ABC and Fox all slipped by 10% or more.

NBC, however, remains the leader in terms of young-adult demographics, receiving an infusion from its Monday combination of "Weakest Link" and "Fear Factor" as well as "Spy TV." Another veteran of the genre, "America's Funniest Home Videos," also returned to ABC on Friday and more than doubled the network's average in its time slot this summer.

Outside prime time, "The CBS Evening News"--which has generated considerable discussion by opting not to cover the Chandra Levy missing-person case--remained third ratings-wise with 7.5 million viewers, about a million behind ABC's top-rated "World News Tonight."

Network Averages

Here is the number of viewers (in millions) that each network averaged per hour of prime time, for last week and for the season.


Network Last week Season to date CBS 8.40 11.67 ABC 7.42 11.45 NBC 7.28 10.98 FOX 5.02 8.81 UPN 2.76 3.62 WB 2.29 3.49


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