CBS is back in the ratings game thanks to a huge Super Bowl- “Survivor” combo on Sunday, pulling to within striking distance of season leader ABC in total viewers while improving its demo standing.

The Eye net easily took the week of Jan. 22-28, according to Nielsen, with the best showing in both total viewers (21.3 million) and 18-49 (8.5/21) for any net since NBC’s first week of the Summer Olympics last September, and the best in season for any net since ABC’s Super Bowl week last January.

Sunday’s game between the Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants and the premiere of “Survivor: The Australian Outback” easily ranked as the top shows of the week in both viewers and the key demo. (The 23-minute Super Bowl postgame isn’t included in the rankings.)

Both programs came up in final nationals, with Super Bowl XXXV checking in with a 40.4/61 in homes, an average of 84.33 million viewers and a 35.8/71 in adults 18-49. The premiere of “Survivor 2” moved up to a 24.5/39, 45.37 million and a 21.8/48 in 18-49 — a full rating point better than its projected demo score a day earlier.

CBS won every demo breakdown for the week, with margins of victory ranging from a 4-share advantage over the WB in female teens to a 13-share bulge over Fox in men 25-54.

The Eye, which had ranked third for the first half of the season in total viewers, now has its sights set on catching ABC for the season crown. The Alphabet continues to lead, but the now second-place CBS has shaved the advantage from 12% to 6%.

CBS, of course, is also looking to the second edition of “Survivor” to boost its demo rankings. Net continues to rank fourth in adults 18-49 but is now a more competitive third in its target demo of adults 25-54.

While “Survivor 2” got off to a great start on Sunday, it was also a good week for two other reality series that bowed earlier in the month — Fox’s “Temptation Island” and the WB’s “Popstars” — although ABC’s “The Mole” continues to post mediocre marks.

Second-place Fox moved past NBC in adults 18-49 for the second consecutive week. “Temptation” has been the program to tilt things in the net’s favor, last week ranking second among non-CBS Sunday shows in the demo (8.8/21) — behind only a repeat of NBC’s “Friends” (9.1/25).

ABC, which finished second to CBS for the week in total viewers, enters the second half of the season in second place in adults 18-49, two ticks behind NBC and two ticks ahead of a charging Fox.

The halfway point of the season also finds UPN and the WB tied in both total viewers and 18-49. Frog net has the advantage in younger demos like teens and adults 18-34 — up vs. last year in the latter by a whopping 25%.


CBS’ comedy lineup benefited from Super Bowl promotion and Fox’s dramas airing in repeat. “King of Queens” posted its best 8 p.m. ratings to date (15.74m, 6.2/16 in A18-49), “Yes, Dear” its best numbers yet (15.34m, 6.4/15 in A18-49) and “Everybody Loves Raymond” its best 18-49 rating in its five-year history (8.6/19).

Net’s good ratings news didn’t extend to 10, though, as “Family Law” fell to its third-lowest marks of the season (11.51m, 4.0/11 in A18-49), losing its hour to NBC’s “Third Watch” (11.70m, 4.5/12). ABC’s “Gideon’s Crossing” (7.69m, 3.3/9) posted its lowest marks in three Monday tries, despite a strong lead-in from repeat pic “Liar Liar” (12.77m, 5.5/13).

The 100th episode of the WB’s “7th Heaven” won its hour in the Frog’s target demo of females 12-34 (5.1/14). It continues to do very well in the large markets, winning in households in its second half-hour, for example, by 6 shares in Los Angeles.


“Survivor 2” (45.37m) held onto 54% of its Super Bowl aud (84.33m), the second best retention of the last 14 years — behind only NBC’s “Friends” in 1996, which held 56%. By comparison, last year’s episode of “The Practice” retained 27% of its game audience, while no other post-Super Bowl show of the last nine years has done better than 37%.

Where “Friends” had a larger advantage over “Survivor 2” was in adults 18-49, holding 68% of its young-adult game aud compared with 61% for the reality series.

An original seg of ABC’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” skewed very old opposite the game, but was the night’s top non-CBS program in total viewers (12.32m), while a repeat of Fox’s “The X-Files” the top non-CBS draw in 18-49 (3.5/7).

Compared with last year’s game on ABC, this year’s Super Bowl was up 3% in kids and 7% in teens, but down 3% in adults 18-34, 6% in adults 18-49 and 11% in adults 50-plus (thanks largely to “Millionaire”). The 35.8 rating in adults 18-49 for this year’s game is the lowest for the Super Bowl since 1992.


Fox delivered its most-watched Saturday with series programming since Jan. 30, 1999 (10.9 million), led by the largest aud and best adults 18-49 score since that date for “America’s Most Wanted” (11.55m, 5.0/14). “AMW,” in the headlines last week for its part in leading to the capture of members of the Texas Seven, also posted its best scores in nearly five years in female demos.

CBS fared pretty well with its Super Bowl-themed lineup, especially in the opening hour with “Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials” (10.28m, 4.1/12 in A18-49). It’s the best non-sports demo score in the hour for the net in at least two seasons.


NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” logged its best 18-49 rating ever (5.7/16), topping an original episode of CBS’ “Nash Bridges” by 5 shares.

The WB’s “Popstars” improved on its “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” lead-in once again, including by 30% in women 18-34 and by 13% in teens.

CBS’ “The Fugitive” — airing at 8 for the final time — fell to its lowest marks yet for an original episode (6.97m, 1.9/6 in A18-49).

UPN’s “Gary & Mike” and “Celebrity Deathmatch” picked up after an off week, combining for the netlet’s second-best showing in the leadoff hour in seven weeks (2.4 million, 0.9/3 in A18-49).


ABC’s “Primetime Thursday” scored its second-best numbers of the season (14.91m, 5.0/13), trouncing newsmag rival “48 Hours” (7.26m, 2.7/7).

Even in repeat, the WB’s red-hot “Gilmore Girls” logged its second best women 18-34 rating to date (2.9/8).


Fox won each of the night’s half-hours in 18-49, while NBC’s “Ed” logged its best rating in the demo since October (Daily Variety, Jan. 26).


Despite airing against all-repeat competition on the other major nets, ABC’s “The Mole” could not make any gains among adults 18-49 (4.9/13). The reality show did hit new highs in teens (4.1/13) and kids (3.0/10, and continues to pump up the net’s 18-34 numbers for the hour (up 36% through three weeks vs. what “Millionaire” averaged prior to that).

NBC’s “Three Sisters” retained a best-yet 97% of its 18-49 lead-in from “Frasier” (in repeat).


Fox easily won Jan. 23 behind “Ally McBeal” (13.77m, 7.3/16 in A18-49) and “Boston Public” (13.48m, 6.4/16).