CBS scores big with AFC thriller

A huge audience for the AFC championship game helped CBS score the most-watched week for any network this season, while two award showcases were thrown for a ratings loss last week, based on viewing estimates issued Wednesday by Nielsen Media Research.

Forced to overlap with prime-time football in the Eastern and Central time zones, NBC's Golden Globes telecast dropped 15% on Sunday, while ABC's "American Music Awards" took a somewhat steeper tumble Jan. 13 up against Fox's durable staged reality concept "Joe Millionaire." The Oakland-Tennessee game, meanwhile, rose 25% over last year's conference title showdown, which aired in the afternoon.

NBC's Thursday lineup is exhibiting some signs of weakness, with "ER" slipping as CBS' "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" dominates the preceding hour against "Will & Grace" and "Good Morning Miami," funneling viewers toward the similarly themed first-year drama "Without a Trace."

The second episode of NBC's political drama "Mr. Sterling" saw viewer turnout drop 12% from its premiere -- still good enough to win its Friday time slot -- while CBS' courtroom drama "Queens Supreme" is proving no match for "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." The "Law & Order" franchise also demonstrated its repeatability, as the network reran all three versions Saturday and significantly improved its performance that night.

-- Brian Lowry

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