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CBS, Fox on top as television season ends

Updated: 2011-06-02 12:11

NEW YORK – Another television season is in the books for the major broadcast networks, and the results may sound familiar.

CBS finished the 2010-11 season last week as the nation's most-watched television network for the eighth time in nine years, the Nielsen Co. said on Wednesday. Fox won its seventh season in a row among the youthful 18-to-49-year-old demographic closely watched by advertisers.

The country's favorite TV show was Fox's "American Idol" for the eighth straight season.

Viewership was down for each of the four biggest broadcast networks, Nielsen said. CBS averaged 11.6 million viewers in prime-time (down 2 percent from last season), Fox had 9.8 million viewers (down 2 percent), ABC had 8.5 million (down 1 percent) and NBC had 7 million (down 15 percent), Nielsen said. Much of NBC's decline was because the network broadcast the Winter Olympics last season; take away sports and NBC's prime-time decline was 3 percent.

The ratings also indicate how broadcast television is increasingly seen by viewers as a home for big events. Some of television's most popular programs had bigger audiences this year than the year before, including "American Idol," despite the loss of Simon Cowell, ABC's "Dancing With the Stars," NBC's "Sunday Night Football" and CBS' "NCIS."

The Super Bowl, aired on Fox, set an all-time record with more than 111 million viewers.

CBS had the five most popular dramas on television, each a crime-solving procedural ("NCIS," "NCIS: Los Angeles," "The Mentalist," "Criminal Minds" and "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation"). The network also had the two most popular comedies in "The Big Bang Theory" and "Two and a Half Men," the latter despite a Sheen-shortened season. Only the writer's strike-affected 2007-08 season, won by Fox, stopped CBS from a nine-year winning streak.

The fastest-growing prime-time show was the sophomore comedy "Modern Family" on ABC, up 24 percent to 11.8 million viewers, Nielsen said. Fox's since-canceled "Good Guys," down 42 percent, was the biggest year-to-year loser.

The country's leading Spanish-language network, Univision, saw its prime-time audience increase by 6 percent this season over last.

The final week of the TV season was left largely to the conclusion of TV's two biggest competition shows — "American Idol" and "Dancing With the Stars" — with many other series already in repeats. The final "Idol" of the season had 29.3 million viewers.

For the week, Fox led with an average of 10.6 million viewers in prime-time (5.9 rating, 11 percent share). ABC had 7.1 million (4.4, 8), CBS had 6.4 million (4.1, 7), NBC had 4.2 million (2.7, 5), ION Television had 950,000 (0.6, 1) and the CW had 810,000 (0.5, 1).

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision had a prime-time average of 3.7 million viewers (2.0 rating, 3 share), Telemundo had 1.3 million (0.7, 1), TeleFutura had 570,000 (0.3, 1), Estrella had 220,000 and Azteca 200,000 (both 0.1, 0).

NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 9 million viewers (5.9, 12). ABC's "World News" was second with 8.1 million (5.6, 11) and the "CBS Evening News" had 6.2 million viewers (4.1, 8). The CBS viewership was up an average of 300,000 from Katie Couric's final week as anchor.

A ratings point represents 1,147,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 114.7 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of May 23-29, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "American Idol" (Wednesday), Fox, 29.29 million; "Dancing With the Stars," ABC, 22.86 million; "Dancing With the Stars Results," ABC, 21.42 million; "American Idol" (Tuesday), Fox, 20.57 million; "Glee," Fox, 11.8 million; "Dancing With the Stars" (Tuesday, 8 p.m.), ABC, 10.36 million; "Modern Family," ABC, 10.31 million; "NCIS," CBS, 9.83 million; "So You Think You Can Dance" (Thursday), Fox, 9.46 million; "The Mentalist," CBS, 9.26 million.