Television's rerun season begins, audience starts its desertion

Tuesday, June 3rd 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) -- CBS' "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" was last week's most popular television program -- just like most weeks -- but its audience was half what it usually is.

Welcome to the summer rerun season, where viewers began their annual exodus from broadcast television last week.

Executives are hoping that some program such as "American Idol," "Survivor" and "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" will emerge during the next few months to distract viewers from the lack of original episodes of their favorite comedies and dramas.

NBC's "Fame" (10.6 million viewers) and CBS' fourth version of "Amazing Race" (9.9 million) got off to solid but unspectacular starts last week, according to Nielsen Media Research.

"Crime and Punishment" drew 9.6 million viewers for its summer 2003 premiere on NBC, but the audience still preferred producer Dick Wolf's "Law & Order" trilogy. All three dramas had bigger audiences last week, even in reruns.

"CSI's" audience of 13.3 million compared with its average of 26.2 million for the TV season, which officially ended May 21.

Because it has stories that begin and end each week, "CSI" is expected to do better in reruns than serialized stories such as "ER." All four dramas in last week's Nielsen top 10 were self-contained hours.

CBS won the week, averaging 9.2 million viewers (6.3 rating, 11 share). NBC had 8.4 million viewers (5.7, 10), ABC had 6.8 million (4.6, 8), Fox tumbled to 6.2 million (3.9, 7), UPN had 2.9 million (2.0, 3), the WB had 2.5 million (1.7, 3) and Pax TV had 1 million (0.8, 1).

NBC's "Nightly News" won the evening news ratings race, averaging 9 million viewers (6.5 rating, 14 share). ABC's "World News Tonight" was second, averaging 8.8 million viewers (6.4, 14), and the "CBS Evening News" had 7 million (5.3, 11).

A ratings point represents 1,067,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 106.7 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of May 26-June 1, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," CBS, 13.3 million; "48 Hours Investigates," CBS, 12.2 million; "Law & Order," NBC, 12 million; "Everybody Loves Raymond," CBS, 11.9 million; "CSI: Miami," CBS, 11.6 million; "Will & Grace," NBC, 11.3 million; "CBS Sunday Movie: A Time to Kill," CBS, 11 million; "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," NBC, 10.9 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 10.9 million; "Friends," NBC, 10.8 million.