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Anticipated shows fail to draw big audience

David Bauder Associated Press

Despite a strong year for a handful of new network programs, last week’s Nielsen television ratngs show how difficult it can be to entice viewers with the promise of something new.

The John Stamos comedy “Jake in Progress” failed to take advantage of the best time slot ABC could offer. In the 9 p.m. Sunday spot that “Desperate Housewives” usually occupies, two “Jake” episodes managed barely more than half the audience that “Housewives” typically draws: 14 million viewers for the first half-hour, 12 million for the second.

Partly as a result, ABC fell to fourth in the weekly rankings.

NBC’s highly anticipated boxing series “The Contender” was seen by 8.9 million people in a special showcase last Thursday, or half what “ER” usually does. And its audience of 6.7 million in its regular 8 p.m. Sunday time slot was barely more than a third of ABC’s competing “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

And no one was laughing over the debut of Kelsey Grammer’s “Sketch Show” Sunday night on Fox, which had one of that network’s smallest audiences.

CBS won the week, averaging 12.5 million viewers in prime time (8.1 rating, 13 share). Fox was second with 11.1 million (6.7, 11) and easily won among the advertiser-favored 18- to 49-year-old demographic.

NBC averaged 9.6 million viewers (6.4, 10), ABC 8.5 million (5.5, 9), UPN 3 million (2.0, 3) and the WB 2.6 million (1.8, 3).

A ratings point represents 1,096,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation’s estimated 109.6 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

The top 10 shows for the week ending Sunday: “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 29.4 million viewers; “American Idol” (Tuesday), Fox, 27.7 million; “American Idol” (Wednesday), Fox, 26.9 million; “American Idol” (Monday), Fox, 23.9 million; “Without a Trace,” CBS, 23.3 million; “Survivor: Palau,” CBS, 21.8 million; “CSI: Miami,” CBS, 21.7 million; “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” ABC, 18.4 million; “Two and a Half Men,” CBS, 17.4 million; “Cold Case,” CBS, 16.6 million.

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