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CSI Files

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'CSI' Sweeps To The Top

By Caillan
May 22, 2003 - 11:27 AM

See Also: 'Inside The Box' Episode Guide

The evidence never lies: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is the most popular television series in America.

CSI beat out Fox's reality series, Joe Millionaire, and long-running NBC sitcom Friends to take the title for the first time, the Associated Press reported. An average of 26.2 million viewers tuned in to each episode of CSI's third season, compared to 22.9 million for Joe Millionaire and 21.8 million for Friends, which claimed pole position last year.

CBS, home to CSI and its spin-off, CSI: Miami, was also the most-watched network, attracting an average of 12.5 million primetime viewers, an increase of 2 percent from the 2001-2002 season. NBC nabbed second place with 11.7 viewers, followed by ABC (10 million) and Fox (9.8 million).

The Eye network is also set to claim victory in May sweeps, one of the three ratings periods throughout the year which determine advertising rates. Current figures at Mediaweek have CBS beating NBC in households and total viewers, but the CSI network, which has traditionally attracted an older audience, is likely to come third in the key adults 18-49 demographic.

The ratings victory sent CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves over the moon. "That makes it for this season game, set, and match for CBS in sweeps periods this year," he told Zap2it. "We won November. We won February. And now we've won May."

Moonves singled out the network's Thursday night line-up of Survivor, CSI and Without a Trace for particular praise. "On Thursday, in probably the biggest story of the year, we have overtaken NBC on Thursday. We have broken their 18-year stranglehold on the night."

CSI certainly had a bumper May, with three of the show's four sweeps episodes earning the title of the most-watched programme of the week. A breakdown of the final ratings for each of CSI's May sweeps outings can be found below, based on figures provided by the Futon Critic:

  • April 24: "Last Laugh" - Although it was NBC, not CBS, which won the first night of May sweeps, CSI still put in a strong showing with a 16.2 rating / 24 share. These figures were down slightly from the 16.6/25 scored by the previous week's episode, "A Night At The Movies". CSI was the most-watched show with 25.2 million viewers.

  • May 1: "Forever" - President George Bush's address to the nation played havoc with the primetime schedules, resulting in a drop in CSI's ratings. "Forever" scored a 14.6/22 rating, which translated to 22.7 million viewers, 2.5 million fewer than "Last Laugh". However, CSI was still number one for week.

  • May 8: "Play With Fire" - CSI sparked back into action the next week, winning its timeslot with a 15.9/24 final rating. 25.1 million viewers watched the episode, with CSI again the most popular television programme.

  • May 15: "Inside The Box" - Unfortunately, CSI couldn't maintain a perfect scorecard for sweeps, slipping to number two behind Friends in the final week. The season finale still managed to attract 23.87 million viewers with a final rating of 15.4/24.

A look at CSI: Miami's sweeps performance will be published next week once the final ratings for "Body Count" are released. Further information on CSI and CBS's ratings can be found at Zap2it, Mediaweek and Yahoo! News.

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