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For CBS, the 'Evening News' is great

By LYNN ELBER, Associated Press
Published May 19, 2006

LOS ANGELES - Katie Couric has yet to arrive, but the CBS Evening News rose to second place in the weekly ratings for the first time in five years.

It was Bob Schieffer, holding the anchor spot between Dan Rather's departure and the arrival of NBC's Today host Couric this fall, who shepherded the newscast to its breakthrough.

Meanwhile, CBS and Fox remained leaders of the prime time pack in the May ratings sweeps, with one network powered by the finale of Survivor and the other by the unstoppable American Idol.CBS marked its ninth consecutive weekly prime time win, besting its rivals last week with help from the season's concluding episodes of Survivor: Panama - Exile Island and the strength of its CSI crime dramas.

On Survivor, Aras Baskauskas of Santa Monica, Calif., defeated Danielle DiLorenzo of Boston for the $1-million prize on Sunday's finale.

For second-place Fox, American Idol showed no signs of flagging as it neared its Wednesday night finale. Last week's Elvis Presley-themed show saw a 17 percent increase in viewers, compared with the same week last year, while the audience is up 15 percent for the season to date.

NBC's hottest performer remained the game show Deal or No Deal, which landed two episodes in the Top 20, according to Nielsen Media Research figures released Tuesday.

ABC, despite top-ranked hits including Grey's Anatomy, held its fourth-place status for the second week of sweeps.

The network will try to bolster an overall weak schedule next season by bringing at least 15 new series to the air; on Tuesday it announced a 2006-07 lineup that includes shows starring Taye Diggs, Calista Flockhart and Rachel Griffiths.

CBS ruled the week with an average 13.2-million viewers, while Fox drew 10.8-million and hit three months as the leader among young adults. NBC had 10-million and ABC 8.7-million viewers. The WB had 3-million, UPN 2.98-million and the i network (formerly Pax TV) 380,000.

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision averaged 3.3-million viewers, Telemundo had 840,000 and TeleFutura 550,000.

Among evening newscasts, CBS Evening News edged past ABC and into second place for the first time since 2001. CBS's newscast with Schieffer averaged 7.39-million viewers to 7.31-million for ABC World News Tonight.

First-place NBC Nightly News had 8.4-million viewers.

1. Idol-Tue., Fox, 28.9

2. Idol-Wed., Fox, 27.9

3. CSI, CBS, 27

4. House, Fox, 24.3

5. Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 22.6

6. Housewives, ABC, 21.0

7. CSI: Miami, CBS, 20.0

8. Without a Trace, CBS, 19.2

9. Survivor Finale, CBS, 17.1

10. Survivor, CBS, 17

11. Lost, ABC, 16.3

12. Deal or No Deal-Mon., NBC, 15.9

13. NCIS, CBS, 15.7

14. Deal or No Deal-Wed., NBC, 15.5

15. CSI: N.Y., CBS, 15.2

16. Two & Half Men, CBS, 14.9

17. Unan1mous, Fox, 14.2

18. The Unit, CBS, 14.2

19. 24, Fox, 13.9

20. ER, NBC, 13.2

[Last modified May 18, 2006, 11:33:50]

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