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CBS eyes the top prize

CBS is closing in on the right to call itself No. 1 after winning households
and viewers for the second week, according to national ratings from Nielsen
Media Research.

NBC remains a full rating point ahead in adults 18 through 49, but CBS has
narrowed NBC's margin of victory in all categories so far this season.

For the week ending Oct. 6, CBS scored an 8.8 rating/15 share in households
versus NBC's 8.4/14. By comparison, last year, NBC dominated with an 8.9/14 to
CBS' 7.5/12.

The story is the same in viewers, where CBS wins with 13.3 million
versus NBC's 12.64 million. Last year, NBC had 2 million-plus more viewers at
this point, 13.17 million versus 10.97 for CBS.

In adults 18 through 49, NBC wins with a 5.1/14 versus CBS' 4.1/11, but CBS
has closed the gap from last year when its 18-through-49 score was a 3.5/9
versus NBC's 5.3/14.

ABC still comes in a distant third behind the two and is down year-to-year,
although analysts said ABC is up when comparing new shows to new shows and
returning shows to returning shows. ABC had a 6.2/10 in households in the second
week compared with last year's 6.6/11 and 9.47 million viewers versus last year's
9.79 million. The network is unchanged in 18 through 49 at 3.7/10.

Still, The WB Television Network may be the success story of the new season, virtually turning
around much of its lineup and coming in third overall on Monday night behind
CBS and ABC with series veteran 7th Heaven. The network had
the best adults and women 18-through-34 numbers in its history last week, with a
2.7/8 and a 3.4/10, respectively. It also tied its best-ever ratings in adults
18 through 49, women 18 through 49, men 18 through 49 and men 18 through 34.

Although The WB is generally topping UPN in overall ratings, UPN did eke out
slight victories last week in men 18 through 34 and men 18 through 49, largely
on the strength of shows such as Enterprise on Wednesday night and WWE
Thursday night.

Airing Major League Baseball playoffs, Fox remains in fourth place, scoring a
6.1/10 in households and 8.1 million viewers, up 7 percent and 14 percent,
respectively. Viewers appear to be more interested in baseball this year than
last, with Fox's ratings up in demos across the board.

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.