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American Idol

TV Article

Sweeps Takes

CBS, NBC, ''Idol'' divvy up ratings pot. ''CSI,'' Phoebe's wedding on ''Friends,'' and the first round of selections on ''American Idol'' top the weekly Nielsen race

TV viewers went for grisly spectacle last week, whether it was autopsy work on ''CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,'' gross-outs on ''Fear Factor,'' Donald Trump's hair on ''The Apprentice,'' caterwauling auditioners on ''American Idol,'' or Monica in full control-freak mode as Phoebe's wedding planner on ''Friends.'' ''CSI'' was the week's most viewed show, according to Nielsen, drawing 30.9 million viewers. The first round of semifinals on ''Idol'' drew 26.2 million viewers on Tuesday (2nd place) and 24.5 million of them came back to see the results on Wednesday's show (No. 4). On Thursday, Phoebe's supersized nuptials episode drew 25.9 million viewers to ''Friends'' (No. 3), and 18.5 of them stuck around to watch another bad hair day for the Donald on ''Apprentice'' (No. 9). That meant that, from 8:42 to 9:00, ''Apprentice'' producer Mark Burnett was competing against himself -- a TV scheduling rarity -- but he outdrew himself on ''Survivor: All Stars'' (No. 5, 22.4 million).

As the Burnett vs. Burnett battle suggests, the ratings race for the week was all about CBS and NBC, which divided the rest of the top 10 chart positions  (''ER,'' ''CSI: Miami,'' ''Without a Trace,'' and ''Fear Factor'') between them. CBS averaged 14.2 million viewers for the week to NBC's 12.6 million. Despite ''Idol,'' Fox mustered a distant third place finish with 9.3 million, while hit-starved ABC drew 8.3 million. ''America's Next Top Model'' continued to raise UPN's numbers, allowing the netlet to finish with 4.1 million viewers and edge out the WB (4 million).

Originally posted Feb 19, 2004