Egypt and snowstorm help news ratings

NEW YORK (AP) — The political crisis in Egypt and a sprawling winter storm helped the network evening newscasts to some of their biggest audiences in years.

NBC’s top-rated “Nightly News” averaged 11.3 million viewers last week, its largest weekly audience in six years, the Nielsen Co. said. Brian Williams traveled to Cairo to anchor the newscast amid the political unrest.

To give that number some perspective, NBC’s evening newscast had more viewers last week, on average, than any of that network’s prime-time shows.

ABC’s “World News” averaged 9.8 million viewers, its highest numbers in four years, Nielsen said. Anchor Diane Sawyer stayed home, but ABC sent international correspondent Christiane Amanpour to Egypt, where she scored the biggest scoop — a conversation with embattled Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak.

CBS’ Katie Couric went to Cairo, where she was jostled as part of violence directed at journalists. The “CBS Evening News” averaged 7.4 million viewers, its best week since 2009.

Besides the breaking international story, a snow and ice storm that affected a large part of the country brought people to the news. The broadcasts had a captive audience: Many people were homebound and turned on the TV looking for something to do.

Meanwhile, CBS’ “NCIS,” a drama in its eighth year, had its largest audience ever last week when just under 23 million people were watching. It was good timing for star Mark Harmon, who just signed a contract extension.

As was previously reported, the Super Bowl between Pittsburgh and Green Bay was seen by an average of 111 million viewers on Fox, Nielsen said. That now stands as the most-watched program in U.S. television history, breaking a record set by the 2010 Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl and “American Idol” made the weekly ratings race no contest. Fox averaged 32.1 million viewers (14.4 rating, 23 share), CBS had 9.3 million (5.7, 9), NBC had 6 million (3.7, 6), ABC had 5.8 million (3.6, 6), the CW had 2 million (1.2, 2) and ION Television had 1.2 million (0.8, 1).

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with an average of 3.5 million viewers (1.8, 3), Telemundo had 1 million (0.5, 1), TeleFutura had 870,000 (0.4, 1), and Estrella and Azteca both averaged 270,000 (both 0.1, 0).

A ratings point represents 1,159,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation’s estimated 115.9 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of Jan. 31-Feb. 6, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: Super Bowl: Pittsburgh vs. Green Bay, Fox, 111.01 million; “Super Bowl Post Game,” Fox, 66.03 million; “Glee” special, Fox, 26.8 million; “American Idol” (Wednesday), Fox, 25.14 million; “NCIS,” CBS, 22.85 million; “American Idol” (Thursday), Fox, 21.89 million; “NCIS: Los Angeles,” CBS, 17.7 million; “The Mentalist,” CBS, 15.18 million; “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 13.98 million; “The Big Bang Theory,” CBS, 13.83 million.

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ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox and My Network TV are units of News Corp. NBC and Telemundo are owned by General Electric Co. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks. TeleFutura is a division of Univision. Azteca America is a wholly owned subsidiary of TV Azteca S.A. de C.V.

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Online:

http://www.nielsenmedia.com

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