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Clinton-Dole "debate' wasn't much of an audience draw

Published Aug. 31, 2005

Bill Clinton and Bob Dole had some drawing power in their debut as 60 Minutes combatants but not a lot.

Their first debate segment, about the wisdom of a tax cut with war looming, was seen by 17-million Sunday night. That was enough to make the venerable newsmagazine No. 5 in last week's ratings, according to Nielsen Media Research.

That was 700,000 more viewers than the show had the previous week, before the former president and his 1996 election challenger joined it. The season average for 60 Minutes is 14.4-million, and the show is 22nd in season-to-date rankings.

TV critics came down hard on the first segment, with some saying it was stilted because the politicians were not in the studio together.

In a week sprinkled with reruns, the most-watched show on each of the four major networks was a reality series: Survivor: Amazon on CBS (also the week's top-ranked show); American Idol on Fox; Fear Factor on NBC; and I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! on ABC.

CBS won a close race for the week, averaging 11-million viewers, beating NBC's 10.7-million. Fox was third with 10.1-million but again won the coveted 18- to 49-year-old age demographic. ABC averaged 8.7-million, the WB 3.6-million, UPN 3.2-million and Pax TV 1.1-million.

NBC's Nightly News won the evening news ratings race, averaging 11.1-million viewers. ABC's World News Tonight was second, averaging 10.7-million, and the CBS Evening News had 8.7-million.

1. Survivor, CBS, 23.3

2. CSI, CBS, 22.9

3. Idol-Tue., Fox, 18.7

4. Idol-Wed., Fox, 18

5. 60 Minutes, CBS, 17

6. Raymond, CBS, 16.8

7. Fear Factor, NBC, 16.3

8. Friends 2, NBC, 15.6

9. Criminal Intent, NBC, 15

10. Still Standing, CBS, 14.5

11. Simpsons, Fox, 14.4

12. Law & Order, NBC, 14.4

13. CSI: Miami, CBS, 14.2

14. Oliver Beene, Fox, 13.8

15. Greek Life, CBS, 13.3

16. Friends 1, NBC, 13.3

17. Without a Trace, CBS, 13.2

18. 24, Fox, 13.1

19. SVU, NBC, 13.1

20. King of Queens, CBS, 12.9