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Viewers look for the news

Published Aug. 24, 2005

A hunger for news following the disastrous tsunami was evident in last week's Nielsen ratings.

Dateline NBC finished just short of Nielsen Media Research's top 10 for its Sunday broadcast, which featured reports from Thailand and Sri Lanka. And an ABC Primetime Live special on the disaster was the most-watched prime-time show on Wednesday.

The story also boosted the evening news broadcasts, which normally expect a slow week between Christmas and New Year's. Instead, the CBS Evening News and ABC's World News Tonight were both up 12 percent in viewership over this season's average, and NBC's Nightly News was up 8 percent.

World News Tonight, in which Elizabeth Vargas subbed for a vacationing Peter Jennings, had its most-watched week since last February.

Oddly, the second-most popular prime-time show last week was 60 Minutes on CBS, which tried but failed to finish a tsunami piece in time for the broadcast. The newsmagazine had a profile of the Internet search service Google.

NBC, which desperately needs some good news in prime time, saw 16.1-million people tune in to Monday's premiere of the supernatural drama Medium. They were the best numbers for an NBC drama premiere since Ed in 2000.

For last week, CBS was on top with a 10.2-million viewer average. ABC was second with 9.7-million, and won handily among the 18-to-49-year-old demographic that advertisers love. NBC averaged 8.5-million, Fox 5.5-million, UPN 2.7-million, the WB 2.2-million and Pax TV 660,000.

Nightly News won the evening news ratings race, averaging 11.2-million viewers. World News Tonight had 10.4-million viewers and the CBS Evening News had 8.1-million.

1. CSI, CBS, 18.3

2. 60 Minutes, CBS, 16.4

3. Mon. Football, ABC, 16.4

4. Criminal Intent, NBC, 14.8

5. Raymond, CBS, 14.8

6. Without a Trace, CBS, 14.3

7. Mon. Showcase, ABC, 14.2

8. Crossing Jordan, NBC, 14.1

9. Two & Half Men, CBS, 13.5

10. CSI: Miami, CBS, 13.4

11. Dateline-Sun., NBC, 12.8

12. Cold Case, CBS, 12.7

13. Makeover, ABC, 12.4

14. NCIS, CBS, 12.3

15. Fiesta Bowl, ABC, 12.2

16. SVU, NBC, 11.6

17. SVU-Sat., NBC, 11.3

18. Cold Case-Thur., CBS, 10.6

19. Primetime-Wed., ABC, 10.3

20. Jim, ABC, 10.3