DECLINE OF AN EMPIRE
Fox was buoyed by a double dose of the most-talked-about show of the week, “The Simple Life,” although CBS won the period ending Dec. 7 by a wide margin in total viewers.
The half-hour comedy-reality series featuring Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie had a big opening night in its Tuesday 8:30 p.m. premiere, and the show posted even bigger ratings with a special Wednesday 8:30 p.m. airing of its second episode. (The show shifted to a once-a-week airing Tuesday as of this week). Wednesday’s edition of “Simple Life” in turn boosted Fox’s 9 p.m. teen soap “The O.C.” to its highest ratings to date, according to Nielsen Media Research.
CBS, which averaged a leading 12.9 million viewers last week, saw “Survivor: Pearl Islands” climb to its highest ratings of the season to date in a week when its main competition, NBC’s “Friends,” was in repeat.
ABC popped big numbers Wednesday with the second part of its three-part “Trista & Ryan’s Wedding” made-for-TV nuptials series at 9 p.m. and at 10 p.m. with the premiere of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” The home remodeling series scored a coup for ABC in beating the long-dominant “Law & Order” in the hour in the adults 18-49 demo.
But that didn’t prevent NBC from taking the week overall in adults 18-49 (4.2 rating/11 share) by a comfortable margin. A big part of that win could be credited to the penultimate episode of reality matchmaking series “Average Joe,” which delivered NBC’s highest rating in the Monday 10 p.m. slot (with regular series programming) in more than five years.
The last days of Rome were positively high brow by comparison.
Update (1005): Yes, I know that the image of debauchery of late Rome is largely a fiction. See Grant, for example.