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Sunday Is Super for CBS

No surprise, the big news this weekend was Super Bowl XXXVIII. CBS’ coverage made it Sunday night’s clear ratings winner.

CBS estimates that some 140 million American’s tuned into the game Sunday night, which would make it the most-watched Super Bowl in history, surpassing last season’s 138.9 million. Nielsen Media Research’s metered market ratings show that the entire Super Bowl delivered a 44.2 rating/63 share, the highest rating since 1998.

According to the preliminary Nielsen results, the Super Bowl averaged about a 22 rating among kids 6 to 11 at the game’s midpoint, right around the time that Janet Jackson’s breast was exposed during her halftime duet with Justin Timberlake. Among teens, the coverage was averaging a 27 rating.

The exposure, which Timberlake said was "not intentional and regrettable," has already sparked the anger of FCC Chairman Michael Powell.

Still, CBS chugged on with super ratings for the rest of the night. The premiere of Survivor: All Stars, which started at about 10:52 p.m., immediately after the post-game wrap averaged a 20.2/33, the best rating for a Super Bowl lead out since the debut of Survivor: Outback in 2001.

On Saturday, Fox eked out a victory among adults 18-49, while ABC won total viewers and tied CBS in the household race. Fox aired the usual fare, Cops and America’s Most Wanted. ABC aired the movie, Parent Trap and CBS aired StarSearch, a special about Super Bowl commercials and The District. NBC aired Tracy Morgan, Whoopi and two episodes of Law & Order and finished fourth in most of the key measurements.

On Friday, ABC was first in viewers and adults 18-49 with George Lopez, Married to the Kellys, Hope and Faith, Life with Bonnie and 20/20 Friday.

NBC was second among adults 18-49 and third in households and viewers with Dateline, Ed and Third Watch. CBS was second in households and viewers and third with adults 18-49 and 25-54 with Joan of Arcadia, JAG, and The Handler. Fox was fourth across the board with Totally Outrageous Behavior, World’s Craziest Videos and Boston Public.

The WB won the weblet battle with its Reba-driven comedy block, while UPN picked up the rear with the movie, The Cell.