NEW YORK (AP) - It's hardly the golden age of sitcoms, but ABC is now the second network to fill an entire night's prime-time schedule with them.
ABC last week devoted its Wednesday night schedule to six sitcoms - taking the lead from NBC, which does the same thing on Thursday nights. For its first try, ABC had bragging rights, with its comedies delivering an average of 6.4 million viewers to NBC's 4.7 million, the Nielsen Co. said.
ABC's "Modern Family" was the week's most popular comedy for only the second time in the show's history. It helped that CBS' "The Big Bang Theory," which is generally more popular, showed a rerun.
The networks' experiments have less to do with the strength of comedies than with declining ratings for expensive dramas, which typically fill the 10 p.m. Eastern hour on ABC, CBS and NBC. In fact, only two sitcoms, "Modern Family" (No. 17) and CBS' "Mike & Molly" (No. 25), finished among Nielsen's 25 most popular prime-time programs last week.
NBC's "The Office," approaching the exit of star Steve Carell, has been inching up in the ratings and was seen by 7.9 million people last week.
The two editions of Fox's "American Idol" topped the week's popularity list, although CBS was the most-watched network.
For the week in prime-time, CBS averaged 9.2 million viewers (5.8 rating, 10 share), Fox had 7.9 million viewers (4.6, 8), ABC had 7.8 million (4.9, 8), NBC had 5.2 million (3.3, 5), the CW had 1.5 million (1.0, 2) and ION Television had 1.2 million (0.8, 1).
Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with an average of 3.7 million (1.9 rating, 3 share), Telemundo had 1.3 million (0.7, 1), TeleFutura had 680,000 (0.4, 1) and Estrella and Azteca both had 220,000 (both 0.1, 0).
NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.7 million viewers (5.7, 12). ABC's "World News" was second with 7.7 million (5.2, 10) and the "CBS Evening News" had 5.5 million viewers (3.7, 7).
A ratings point represents 1,149,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 114.9 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.
For the week of April 11-17, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "American Idol" (Wednesday), Fox, 23.03 million; "American Idol" (Thursday), Fox, 21.92 million; "Dancing With the Stars," ABC, 20.93 million; "NCIS," CBS, 19.87 million; "Dancing With the Stars Results," ABC, 15.96 million; "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 15.46 million; "Criminal Minds," CBS, 13.59 million; "Castle," ABC, 12.33 million; "Bones," Fox, 11.45 million; "Survivor: Redemption Island," CBS, 11.09 million.
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.