Reality finales dominate weekly ratings race. ''Survivor,'' ''Trista and Ryan's Wedding,'' and ''Average Joe'' score for the big three networks

By Gary Susman
December 17, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

Reality show finales gave all three of the big networks reason to cheer last week. CBS’ ”Survivor” remained the reality champion, as 25.2 million viewers tuned in Sunday to watch Sandra Diaz-Twine win the $1 million prize, making the finale the second most-watched show of the week, according to Nielsen figures. (Thursday’s penultimate episode and Sunday’s ”Survivor: Pearl Islands Reunion” show both drew around 22 million, coming in third and fourth for the week.) On NBC, Monday’s ”Average Joe” finale came in at No. 7 (17.4 million), edging Wednesday’s ”Trista and Ryan’s Wedding” (No. 8, 17.1 million) on ABC.

Counting ”60 Minutes” (No. 6) and the Philadelphia-Miami game on ”NFL Monday Night Football” (No. 10), non-fiction programming took seven of the top 10 slots. Scriptwriters can take consolation in knowing that the week’s top show was an episode of ”CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” that drew 26.8 million viewers. The other two top scripted shows were ”ER” at No. 5 and ”Without a Trace” in ninth place.

CBS won the week with an average of 13.7 million viewers, followed by NBC with 11.2 million and ABC with 9.5 million. Fox averaged 7.7 million for the week that saw its own reality  winner ”The Simple Life” was the victim of a sleigh-ing by CBS’ rerun of ”Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (the misfit socialites drew 10.8 million opposite the 13.7 million for the misfit toys). UPN finished fifth with 3 million, edging the WB’s 2.9 million