In one last drive to the net, the North Carolina Tar Heels won not just the NCAA basketball championship, but also the Nielsen ratings week for CBS. The North Carolina-Illinois contest culminated a month of hoops-driven ratings success for the network, drawing 23.9 million viewers on Monday, up about a third from the audience for last year’s championship game. That was better than usual CBS powerhouses CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (22.6 million) and Survivor: Palau (19.8 million). These may have been the No. 4, No. 5, and No. 6 shows among the week’s most-watched programs, but they helped lift the network to another No. 1 finish for the week, averaging 12.4 million viewers.
ABC boasted the week’s top show, Sunday’s Desperate Housewives, which attracted 25.6 million viewers. The show’s timeslot follow-up, three-week-old Grey’s Anatomy, finished at No. 7 (17.99 million), just ahead of the Lost shocker (No. 8, 17.1 million) that featured the death of Ian Somerhalder’s Boone. These were among the hits that helped ABC finish second for the week, averaging 9 million viewers. Fox, which drew more than 24 million viewers to each episode of American Idol (Tuesday’s show was No. 2, with Wednesday’s show at No. 3), finished third with 8.4 million viewers for the week. NBC came in a hair behind, with an average of 8.3 million. Among the netlets, UPN beat the WB, 3.1 million to 2.9 million.