Rerun-heavy CBS wins weekly ratings. Fox's ''Simple Life 2'' remains the biggest hit among new shows

By Gary Susman
Updated July 08, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

Maybe the networks should make like car salesmen and refer to their reruns as ”pre-tested” shows. That would help explain why summer TV viewers are going for already proven fare instead of new shows. CBS continued to dominate the summer by airing repeats — er, pre-tested programs — landing six such shows in the top 10 for the week ending July 4 (No. 1 was ”CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” with 15.9 million viewers, according to Nielsen) and winning the weekly ratings race with an average audience of 8 million. Of course, CBS is finally entering the new-episode game this week with ”Big Brother 5” and ”The Amazing Race 5,” and both have premiered with promising numbers (9.5 million for ”BB5” and 10.3 million for ”Race”) that should be among the top finishers on next week’s chart.

In contrast, Fox, which has relied heavily on new shows this summer, has seen many of them tank. ”The Jury” is out, almost — after drawing a pool of just 3.2 million viewers last week, it’ll burn off its remaining episodes over the next few Fridays before disappearing from the schedule. Also scoring low are ”The Casino” and ”North Shore.” The exceptions are ”Method and Red” (a modest hit, drawing nearly 6 million Red-heads last week), ”Quintuplets” (finishing a hair behind ”Method and Red”), and especially ”The Simple Life 2,” which drew 9.3 million Paris and Nicole fans last week for a No. 9 finish. Boosted by a NASCAR race that cracked the top 10 (No. 10, 8.7 million), Fox finished third for the week, averaging 4.9 million viewers.

NBC, which has mixed reruns and new shows, has had mixed results. New episodes of reality shows ”Last Comic Standing,” ”For Love or Money,” and ”Who Wants to Marry My Dad” all finished in the top 25 and attracted the 18-to-49 set that advertisers court, but the top NBC show was still an old ”Law & Order” (No. 5, 10.8 million). The network finished second among overall viewers, with an average of 6.5 million.

ABC, whose only new summer hit is reality-cop show ”NYPD 24/7” (No. 27), finished fourth for the week with 4.7 million viewers. Netlet UPN scored 2.3 million viewers, outscoring the WB’s 1.9 million.