NFL GAME ODDLY BLACKED OUT -- IN RATINGS

In its release of ratings for the week of Oct. 29-Nov. 4, Nielsen Media Research observed that the most-watched telecast of the week was Sunday night's 7:00 p.m. half-hour overrun of the New England Patriots-Indianapolis Colts football game on CBS, which drew a 19.3 rating and a 31 share. With 33.8 million viewers, it was also the highest-rated regular-season NFL game in 20 years. Curiously, however, the telecast was not even listed among Nielsen's top ten, which put ABC's Monday-night edition of Dancing With the Stars in first place in overall households (14.1/21) and ABC's Grey's Anatomy on top among adults 18-49. In households, CBS again finished first with an average 7.8/13. ABC was a close second with a 7.4/12 (and held the lead among the 18-49 demo). NBC placed third with a 5.0/8, while Fox, the previous week's winner as a result of its World Series coverage, dropped to last place with a 4.3/7.

The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:

1. Dancing With the Stars (Monday), ABC, 14.1/21; 2. Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 12.6/19; 3. Dancing With the Stars (Tuesday), ABC, 12.3/18; 4. 60 Minutes, CBS, 11.9/19; 4. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 11.9/18; 6. Desperate Housewives, ABC, 11.8/18; 7. NCIS, CBS, 10.4/16; 8. House, Fox, 10.3/15; 9. Sunday Night Football, NBC, 10.2/16; 10. CSI: Miami, CBS, 9.8/16; 10. Samantha Who?, ABC, 9.8/14.

NO MISSTEP FOR DANCING

ABC didn't miss a beat with last night's (Tuesday) edition of Dancing With the Stars. The first hour of the show registered a 13.8/20, while the second hour (actually 45 minutes) managed a 13.4/19 -- more than a full ratings point ahead of last week. Nevertheless, they represented the highest-rated hours of the night and in each hour bettered the combined ratings of the other three networks. CBS won the 10:00 p.m. hour, however, with a solid 9.6/16 for CSI: Miami.

STRIKE LIKELY TO BENEFIT ABC'S NIGHTLINE

ABC's Nightline, which had already been closing the gap between itself and NBC's Tonight show and CBS's Late Show With David Letterman, may overtake both those shows in the ratings during the current writers' strike, the New York Times observed today (Wednesday). Currently Tonight, starring Jay Leno, averages a 3.9 rating, followed by the Letterman show with a 3.5. Nightline trails only slightly with a 3.4. James Goldston, executive producer of Nightline, told the Times that the strike period, which puts the rival show into reruns, "presents us with both an opportunity and a challenge. ... It may be that we get people sampling the show that maybe haven't seen it since the relaunch [following Ted Koppel's departure], or don't have a good feel for what the show actually does."

NFL ASKS FAN TO CUT TIES TO CABLE

The NFL has asked customers of the major cable providers to cancel their service and switch to satellite so that they can receive the league-owned NFL Network, USA Today reported today (Wednesday). However, Maureen Huff, a spokeswoman for Time Warner Cable, told the newspaper that the NFL alienated itself with viewers by removing eight games from over-the-air TV in order to build its network. A spokeswoman for Comcast said that if its customers want to watch the late-season games they can do so by paying $5.00 more per month. "The fact remains that the vast majority of our customers have chosen not to receive it because they are not interested in paying for eight out-of-market games broadcast between Thanksgiving and New Year's," the spokeswoman said.

NOTHING TO FEAR FOR REAL REPORTERS, SAYS PBS'S LEHRER

Traditional journalists have nothing to fear from Internet bloggers and cable news pundits, Jim Lehrer, host of PBS's The News Hour With Jim Lehrer, said Monday night. As reported by the Austin American-Statesman, Lehrer told an audience at the University of Texas: "The bloggers are talkers, commentators, not reporters. The talk-show hosts are reactors, commentators, not reporters. ... The search engines can search but do not report. All of them, every single one of them, have to have the news in order to exist and thrive." Lehrer also inveighed against the trend to make newscasts more entertaining. "You want to be entertained? Go to the circus, please. Do not watch The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," he said.

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.