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your tv ratings explained

Your TV Ratings Explained: CBS Can’t Lose

Tuned In
Tired of reading about how well CBS is doing this season? Well, sorry: The Eye remained unblinking last week, racking up its fourth consecutive Nielsen victory in overall viewers and key demographics. It had six of the ten most-watched shows (including No. 1 scripted series NCIS) and finished first in the 10 p.m. time slot Monday through Friday. While the race wasn't close in viewers, Fox was a very close second in adults under 50, thanks to continued big ratings for Glee, a solid performance by the 100th episode of Hell's Kitchen, and encouraging numbers for new Tuesday comedy Raising Hope. ABC's big bright spots, meanwhile, continue to be Modern Family (the No. 1 show of the week among adults 18 to 49) and Dancing With the Stars (the No. 1 entertainment show of the week). Over at NBC, the NFL remains a saving grace for the Peacock: Sunday's Colts versus Redskins showdown drew just over 19 million viewers. So far this season, Sunday pigskin is luring an average of more than 21 million viewers — the best start for an NFL prime-time package (Sunday, Monday, or Thursday) since 1996.

Tuned Out
Save for CBS's freshman class, newcomers continue to struggle. NBC added another loser to the class of 2010 with the well-meaning School Pride, which brought in less than 3 million viewers with its Friday premiere. Fox's Running Wilde continued to erode, drawing just 3.3 million. And NBC's Outlaw, shifted to Saturday to die a slow death, lived down to expectations, bringing in around 3.4 million (losing to repeats of crime dramas on CBS).

Crunching the Numbers
With the network race settling into a groove, now's a good time to look at how some cable offerings are performing. One show that's taken a big hit from the return of network competition: E!'s Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Its return to the 10 p.m. Sunday slot in late August was watched by a near-record 4.8 million viewers, but it's been bleeding viewers since: This week's half-hour slipped to just 2.8 million viewers. On the plus side, Kim and Co. beat the much more hyped Mad Men season finale (2.4 million) and remained No. 1 with viewers under 50. But in addition to losing audience to the broadcast nets, Kardashians is also getting a run for its money from TLC's massive new hit Sister Wives, which averaged around 3 million viewers with two episodes at ten and ten-thirty. The polygamy-fest also edged out E!'s hit with women 25 to 54, finishing No. 1 for the night in that demo.

Elsewhere on Sunday, HBO's Boardwalk Empire appears to have stabilized: After debuting to 4.8 million viewers last month, the show fell all the way to 2.6 million viewers a week ago. This Sunday, however, it upticked to 2.9 million. What's more, when you count same-week repeats and DVR viewership, the first three weeks of Empire are averaging more than 12 million viewers, making the show a clear-cut hit. Meanwhile, the week's No. 1 show on cable overall? Nickelodeon's iCarly, which drew 6.7 million viewers on October 11.