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Football gives Fox a touchdown

The 40-million viewers who watched the NFC championship game between the Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles gave Fox a prime-time ratings victory last week.

Fox won even though its highest-rated programs unrelated to the game _ two episodes of The Simple Life _ were ranked 34 and 35 in popularity, Nielsen Media Research said Thursday.

NBC's Friends was seen by 26.7-million people last week, a season high, as fans of the comedy count down to its final episode in May.

Donald Trump is smiling, too; The Apprentice was seen by 20.2-million viewers last week. Now it will go against Fox's juggernaut, American Idol, every week.

CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation was the week's most watched entertainment program, with 28.7-million viewers.

For the week, Fox averaged 13.6-million viewers and CBS had 13.2-million. CBS's higher ratings indicates more TV sets were tuned in to CBS _ but more people were watching the sets with Fox on.

NBC averaged 11.6-million, ABC had 7.8-million, the WB 3.6-million and UPN 3.5-million and Pax TV had 1-million.

NBC's Nightly News won the evening news ratings race, averaging 11.4-million viewers. ABC's World News Tonight had 10.6-million and the CBS Evening News had 8.6-million.

1. NFC Championship, Fox, 40.4

2. CSI, CBS, 28.7

3. Friends, NBC, 26.7

4. ER, NBC, 21.6

5. The Apprentice, NBC, 20.2

6. CSI: Miami, CBS, 19.7

7. Raymond, CBS, 19.3

8. NFC Postgame, Fox, 18.8

9. Two and a Half Men, CBS, 17.9

10. Without a Trace, CBS, 17.4

11. Law & Order, NBC, 17.2

12. CSI-8 p.m., CBS, 16.3

13. Fear Factor, NBC, 16.2

14. Will & Grace, NBC, 15

15. SVU, NBC, 14.1

16. Navy NCIS, CBS, 14

17. Las Vegas, NBC, 13.9

18. Cold Case, CBS, 12.8

19. 60 Minutes Special, CBS, 12.5

20. King of Queens, CBS, 12.5