This week’s Nielsen ratings battle was just a two-network race; in fact, it was a two-producer race. On one side: Fox’s Simon Fuller, with his three episodes last week of American Idol, which were the week’s second, third, and fourth most-watched shows. (Tuesday’s Idol was the franchise’s best, drawing 27.7 million viewers.) On the other side: CBS’ Jerry Bruckheimer, whose crime-solving dramas CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Without a Trace, CSI: Miami, and Cold Case all hit the top 10. (Original flavor CSI was the week’s top show, with 29.4 million viewers.) In the end, CBS (which also drew an audience of 21.7 million for Survivor: Palau) prevailed, averaging 12.5 million viewers for the week. Fox, aided by the increasingly strong House (No. 12, 16.1 million), averaged 11.1 million for the week.
NBC failed to land a single show in the top 10; its highest-rated show was Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which drew 14.1 million to finish at No. 13. Its new reality show The Contender didn’t crack 9 million on any of its three airings. Nonetheless, the network finished third with 9.6 million. ABC drew 8.5 million, finishing fourth after presenting its third straight Sunday slate without Desperate Housewives (though John Stamos’ new sitcom Jake in Progress debuted with a not-bad 14 million in Housewives‘ timeslot). UPN averaged 3 million, while rival the WB scored just 2.6 million.