31.1 MILLION (AND COUNTING) WATCH JACKSON TRIBUTE

For a memorial service, Michael Jackson's was one of the most-watched in history, with 31.1 million tuning in in the U.S. alone, according to Nielsen Media Research. But, as today's (Thursday) New York Times pointed out, it took 18 broadcast and cable channels to produce that number, whereas Fox's American Idol sometimes attracts that many on its own. The figure represented a 21 percent share of the total TV audience, significantly less than the 27 percent share (33.3 million viewers) recorded for Princess Diana's funeral in 1997 (which was carried by just eight channels). However, not included in the ratings figures were the millions of viewers who watched the service via the Internet. The memorial was also beamed to hundreds of theaters across the country. And Anschutz Entertainment Group made it available via satellite to TV broadcasters throughout the̠ world. All three major U.S. networks devoted their 10:00 p.m. hour to Jackson specials, including footage from the memorial. ABC pulled in the most viewers -- 8.66 million -- with its Primetime special titled "Jackson Family Secrets," which focused on Debbie Rowe. An NBC Dateline special drew 6.3 million, while CBS's 48 Hours recorded 5.37 million. (Fox does not carry network programming in the 10:00 p.m. hour.)

TOO MUCH JACKSON? SO WHY WERE YOU WATCHING?

Despite polls indicating that nearly two-thirds of the public believe the coverage devoted to Michael Jackson since his death was "oversaturated," ratings disclosed Wednesday that viewers tuned in sometimes in record numbers. E! Entertainment channel said that its coverage of the Jackson tribute at the Staples Center averaged 746,000 viewers, twice its usual audience and a record for it in the adults 18-49 demographic. The syndicated Entertainment Tonight recorded a 14-percent incgrease from the previous week, aided by a 43-percent upsurge on June 25, the day of Jackson's death and Farrah Fawcett's. Inside Edition, Access Hollywood, Extra and The Insider each recorded spikes in their ratings. However, TMZ, whose website received considerable notoriety for being the first to report Jackson's death, saw its TV ratings decline 5 percent, the only syndicated celebrity show to do so.

DEATH OF A SALESMAN? THINK AGAIN

Death has not silenced Billy Mays, the boisterous TV pitchman who had taped ads for at least three new products before his passing on June 28. Advertising Age reported Wednesday that Media Enterprises, which produced many of the direct-response ads featuring Mays, resumed airing ones for Mighty products on Monday and that they are producing response rates as good as or even better than those that aired before his death. The company said that Mays's family has endorsed the continuing use of the commercials, although some Twitter users have complained about the propriety of doing so, particularly one that resumed on CNBC Tuesday that starts with, "Hi, Billy Mays back again for the Awesome Auger."

ROAD TRIP TAKES DETOUR

A day after it debuted with poor ratings (4.66 million viewers), the Great American Road Trip was yanked off NBC's Tuesday schedule and moved to Monday, where it can presumably do no harm. Network programming executives were presumably concerned that continuing to air it on Tuesdays could negatively impact the success of America's Got Talent, the network's top-rated show and the biggest hit of the summer. The network said that, at least for the time being, it plans to replace Road Trip on Tuesdays with a repeat of Talent.֙ An AGT repeat the previous week drew 6.03 million viewers.

BRITISH TV NUDE ART CLASS DRAWS COMPLAINTS

Britain's Channel 4 was the object of complaints from viewers Wednesday over the station's daytime educational show, "Life Class: Today's Nude," which instructed viewers on the techniques of drawing real-life nude models. The London Telegraph said that the TV network received "dozens" of complaints, including one from Punteha Yazdanian, who said, "It was adult viewing, not for screening in the middle of the day."

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