''Idol,'' ''Friends'' top ratings chart. CBS edges out a victory over NBC as the week's most-watched network

By Gary Susman
April 28, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

Last week’s most-watched shows centered on departing Jennifers. The top show was Tuesday’s ”American Idol” (23.4 million viewers, according to Nielsen), which included what would be the last performance by Jennifer Hudson; Wednesday’s results show, featuring the shocking revelation that she’d been voted off the show, was the No. 3 show (21.2 million). In between was the first new episode of ”Friends” in two months, with 22.6 million tuning in to see Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) prepare to take a fashion job in Paris. Rounding out the top 10 were the usual suspects, most of them from Thursday night: ”CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” (No. 4), followed by ”CSI: Miami,” ”Survivor: All-Stars,” a ”Friends” rerun, ”ER,” ”Law & Order,” and ”Will & Grace.”

As that top 10 list suggests, the weekly Nielsen competition was a two-horse race between CBS and NBC. As usual, CBS won, with an average of 11.7 million viewers, edging out NBC, with 11 million. ”Idol”-dominated Fox finished third with 8.8 million. ABC finished fourth with 7.1 million, drawing some comfort from the reality successes ”The Bachelor” (No. 20) and ”Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (No. 29). (By contrast, the second season premiere of NBC’s ”The Restaurant” finished at No. 66, with just 6.5 million viewers making reservations with Rocco.) At the netlets, ”One Tree Hill” justified the WB’s decision this week to renew the show for a second season, drawing 4.4 million viewers and helping the network eke out a victory for the week over UPN, 3.4 million to 2.8 million.