Clinton helps CBS win ratings race. The former president's book-touting ''60 Minutes'' interview was the week's second most-watched show

By Gary Susman
June 23, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT
Bill Clinton: David M. Russell

According to Nielsen, there were some 15.8 million viewers on Sunday who were eager to see former president Bill Clinton bite his lip one more time and apologize for his affair with Monica Lewinsky. That’s how many watched Clinton’s hour-long interview, touting his new memoir ”My Life,” on ”60 Minutes,” making the newsmagazine the second most-watched show of the week and helping CBS to a weekly ratings victory. The network, which also landed reruns of ”CSI,” ”CSI: Miami,” and ”Without a Trace” in the top five, finished with an average of 8.6 million viewers for the week.

Amid the summer ratings doldrums, repeat-heavy CBS has seen its ratings dip only about 3 percent from last summer. Conversely, Fox and NBC, which have been aggressively programming new shows during the summer, have seen drops of 26 percent and 10 percent, respectively. Fox’s premiere of the second season of ”The Simple Life” drew 9.76 million, down from the 13 million who watched the series premiere last winter. Still, that was enough Paris and Nicole fans to finish at No. 13 for the week. Fox’s ”Method and Red” (No. 24) and ”Quintuplets” (No. 29) also ranked high with their premieres last week.

ABC is the only network to see its summer numbers rise (up 2 percent), thanks largely to the NBA finals. The concluding Game 5 was the week’s most watched show, with 21.8 million fans. Still, ABC finished third for the week, averaging 6.4 million viewers. NBC was second with 7.2 million, while Fox, for all its noteworthy premieres, was fourth with 4.7 million. UPN finished with 2.5 million, edging out the WB, with 2.3 million.

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