CBS feeling the love

'Raymond' a winner at end

In what may be the last big hurrah in some time for a primetime laffer, “Everybody Loves Raymond” went out a winner Monday on CBS, drawing nearly 33 million viewers — the largest aud for a scripted series this season.

“Raymond,” a family comedy that barely survived its first season, wrapped its nine-year run by attracting its largest audience ever and the biggest for an Eye comedy in more than 12½ years — since the season premiere of “Murphy Brown” in 1992 (which was boosted by the Dan Quayle hubbub).

Along with a one-hour “Raymond” retrospective and some series highs for “Two and a Half Men” and “CSI: Miami,” CBS rolled to victory on Monday, posting its best young-adult average on the night (8.4 rating/21 share) since March 1998.

‘Amazing’ victory

The Eye also used the finales of “The Amazing Race 7” and “Survivor: Palau” to notch a convincing ratings victory for the week of May 9-15 and has assumed the lead for the May sweep in adults 18-49.

Through Monday of this week, CBS (4.4 rating/12 share, up 10% in rating vs. a year ago) led Fox (3.9/11, up 8%) and ABC (3.7/10, up 28%), with NBC a fading fourth (3.2/9, down 36%). The Eye’s also on top by wider margins in both adults 25-54 (5.5/14) and total viewers (14.4 million).

On Monday, “Everybody Loves Raymond” (11.2/26 in 18-49, 32.94 million viewers overall) easily achieved series highs, roughly doubling its final-season averages in 18-49 (5.5/13) and total viewers (16.9 million).

In addition to its 26 share in 18-49, “Raymond” bagged a 20 share in adults 18-34 and a 28 share in adults 25-54, its strongest young-adult demo. A balanced show, it also did a 14 share in kids 2-11, a 15 share in teens 12-17 and a 32 share in adults 50-plus.

Although not close to the numbers delivered last May by the finale of NBC’s cultural phenom “Friends” (24.9/54 in 18-49, 52.5 million viewers), “Raymond” topped other recent comedy finales, including last year’s “Frasier” on NBC (9.8/24 in 18-49, 25.2 million).

Highest-rated comedy

And no currently running laffer, with the possible exception of NBC’s “Will & Grace,” figures to come close to the “Raymond” finale numbers. It goes out as TV’s highest-rated comedy.

Also Monday for CBS, “Raymond” lead-out “Two and a Half Men” hit series highs across the board (8.1/18 in 18-49, 24.24m), and “CSI: Miami” (8.1/20, 22.98m) logged its best 18-49 score since November and its largest overall audience to date. Night kicked off with big numbers for “Raymond” retrospective “The Last Laugh” (7.5/21 in 18-49, 24.52m).

Elsewhere, Fox’s “24” (5.3/12 in 18-49, 11.67m) remained strong, and ABC’s three-hour “The Bachelor” finale (3.9/10, 9.27m) outdelivered the two other conclusions of the unscripted series this season. Also, UPN’s comedies drew season-high numbers, led by “Girlfriends” (2.0/5, 4.42m) and “Half & Half” (1.8/4, 3.85m).

NBC, on the other hand, did scrawny numbers with its three-hour “Hercules” telepic (2.6/6, 7.23m).

CBS carried over its success to late night, where an appearance by “Raymond” star Ray Romano lifted “The Late Show With David Letterman” to its third-highest overnight score of the season (5.5/13 in households), topping NBC’s “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” (4.5/11).

* * *

During the week of May 9-15, CBS rolled in adults 18-49 (4.8/13), topping second-place Fox (4.0/11) by 20%, the Eye’s biggest victory of the season; ABC (3.4/10) and NBC (3.2/9) were much further back. And the Eye especially dominated in adults 25-54 (5.9/15) and total viewers (14.8m).

Leading the way as usual was Thursday heavyweight “CSI” (9.1/23 in 18-49, 26.46m), but CBS got its biggest boost with the two-hour finales of “Amazing Race 7” on Tuesday (6.8/17 in 18-49, 16.01m) and “Survivor: Palau” on Sunday (7.8/18, 20.80m). These were the best scores to date for any edition of “Race,” while “Survivor” remained strong despite facing ABC’s powerful Sunday sked.

Also clicking were the Monday trio of “CSI: Miami” (6.9/17 in 18-49, 20.01m), “Everybody Loves Raymond” (6.1/15, 19.79m) and “Two and a Half Men” (5.8/14, 17.96m) and the Friday combo of “Numbers” (3.4/11 in 18-49, 11.29m for its season finale) and two-hour spec “Elvis by the Presleys” (3.1/11, 11.84m).

‘House’ calls

Second-place Fox was paced by “American Idol” segs on Wednesday (11.5/28 in 18-49, 26.63m) — the week’s No. 1 program — and Tuesday (10.2/29, 24.73m). Also, “House” hit series highs (7.4/18 in 18-49, 18.80m), retaining a best-yet 72% of its “Idol” lead-in on Tuesday.

Net’s Sunday also held up well opposite intense competish, led by a special 8:30 “The Simpsons” (4.5/11 in 18-49, 9.69m) and “Family Guy” (4.3/9 in 18-49, 9.26m).

ABC was up over the same week a year ago for the eighth straight frame, again doing the bulk of its damage on Sunday with “Desperate Housewives” (11.0/24, 25.28m), “Grey’s Anatomy” (8.0/19, 18.33m) and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (6.4/16, 16.57m). Wednesday’s “Lost” also shone (6.5/18, 17.10m).

NBC led only one hour of the week — Monday’s “Fear Factor” (3.6/10 in 18-49) — but was led as usual by Thursday’s “ER” (8.0/21 in 18-49, 17.16m) and “Apprentice 3” (6.8/17, 14.90m), both up week-to-week.

UPN, with season highs from “America’s Next Top Model 4” (2.7/8 in 18-49, 5.54m), bested the WB in their 18-34 demo (1.6/5 to 1.4/4).

On the cable side, pro basketball-boosted TNT ruled in both 18-49 (1.18 rating) and total viewers (2.92m). FX was second in 18-49 (0.72) and rose to its largest weekly audience ever (1.75 million) on the back of Saturday’s NASCAR Nextel Cup race.

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