CBS wins reruns-vs.-reality ratings race. The network's ''Amazing Race'' and ''Big Brother'' join Fox's ''Simple Life'' as summer's biggest first-run shows

By Gary Susman
Updated July 14, 2004 at 12:00 PM EDT

While other networks have spent the summer throwing new series at the wall to see what sticks, CBS has been sweeping up with a schedule consisting primarily of reruns. This week, the network added some new fare, with the premieres of the fifth editions of ”Big Brother” and ”The Amazing Race,” and while both shows scored well, it was still reruns that won the week for CBS. According to Nielsen, six of the top seven shows were CBS repeats (No. 1, as usual, was ”CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” which drew 14.8 million viewers). Overall, CBS averaged 8.8 million viewers for the week.

”Amazing Race” debuted at No. 10 (10.3 million viewers), while ”Big Brother”’s first two episodes came in at No. 12 (9.5 million) and No. 13 (9.2 million). The shows challenged Fox’s ”The Simple Life” (No. 11, 9.6 million) as the summer’s biggest hit among new shows.

Still, ”Simple Life” was the only Fox show among the top 35. Otherwise, the network’s numbers were so low that it finished in fourth place with an average of 4.5 million. Even ABC topped that with an average of 5.1 million. NBC, powered by its own reruns (from the ”Law & Order” family) and new reality fare (notably, No. 16 show ”For Love or Money” and No. 19 show ”Last Comic Standing,” which is doing so well that NBC is bringing it back for a third season as soon as this fall), finished in second place with 6.9 million. UPN was fifth with 2.5 million, followed by the WB with 2.1 million.

Other big ratings news came from USA’s ”The 4400,” its new sci-fi show about a group of thousands of long-missing folk who mysteriously reappear at once. Sunday’s premiere drew 7.4 million viewers, a record for the debut of a basic-cable series. Maybe the 4,400 returnees can explain where all the ABC and Fox viewers have disappeared to.

Episode Recaps

Big Brother

Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.

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  • 22
  • TV-14
  • CBS
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