Who cares if American Idol got punk’d by a pro during Wednesday’s auditions, or if the family-friendly Super Bowl made for dull viewing? People still watched by the tens of millions. Thanks to those shows, Fox was far and away the most-watched network this week (averaging 28.8 million viewers, according to Nielsen), scoring a first-week victory for the February sweeps month, as well as the biggest week in the network’s two-decade history.
Fox also owned five of the top six slots on Nielsen’s list of the week’s most popular shows. The game itself drew 86.1 million, making it the most-watched program in Fox history. The post-game show came in second with 50.1 million. Tuesday’s Idol was third with 28.5 million, followed by Wednesday’s Idol with 26.2 million. The post-game episode of The Simpsons was No. 6 with 23.1 million, the sitcom’s highest showing in more than 11 years.
CBS, which boasted the week’s top scripted show with CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (No. 5, 25 million), finished second overall for the week with an average of 10.5 million. ABC, which scored big with its Happy Days reunion special (No. 7, 19.9 million), finished for the week in a virtual dead heat with NBC; both networks averaged about 9.2 million. Among the netlets, the WB finished with 3.4 million, ahead of UPN’s 2.9 million.