''CSI,'' CBS win weekly ratings race. ''Survivor: Palau'' debut helps ensure sweeps-week victory for the network

February 23, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

Thanks to American Idol, Fox has owned much of the key February ratings sweeps month, but CBS came roaring back this week, thanks to its Thursday standbys. The week’s most popular show was CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, which drew 30.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen. The premiere of Survivor: Palau drew 23.7 million (No. 5 for the week), and Without a Trace drew 21 million. Even the Sunday movie Stone Cold, a CBS original starring old CBS hand Tom Selleck, hit the top 10. Overall, CBS averaged 13.4 million for the week.

NBC, on the strength of ER, The Apprentice, the Law & Order franchise, and new hit Medium, finished a distant second with an average of 10.7 million. ABC, powered by Desperate Housewives, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and Lost, was close behind with 10.4 million. Fox was fourth in overall viewers (10.2 million) but first in the coveted 18-to-34 demographic, thanks to Idol. Tuesday’s episode was the week’s No. 2 show (27.1 million), with Wednesday’s show coming in at No. 3 (26.3 million). Among the netlets, the WB edged out UPN, 3.5 million to 3.2 million.

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