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Who Says Crime Doesn't Pay?

Crime seems to be paying off for television networks this fall.

While cable news networks get some of their best ratings of the year for the ongoing sniper saga, broadcasters are finding criminal justice stories are a hit in prime-time.

All three of the "Law & Order" franchises on NBC hit Nielsen Media Research's top 20 shows last week, along with both "CSI" series on CBS. Add in "Judging Amy" and CBS' new "Without a Trace," and that's seven crime-based hours among the top 20.

"CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" is settling in as television's most popular show. It drew nearly 31 million viewers last week, 5 million more than "Friends" or "ER."

Both ABC and CBS fought to challenge NBC's popular "Law & Order" with medical dramas on Wednesday night, and both are on life support. The roughly 13 million viewers who saw CBS' "Presidio Med" and ABC's "MDs" together couldn't match the 19.3 million "Law & Order" viewers last week.

CBS won the Nielsen crown for the fourth straight week averaging 12.7 million viewers in prime-time (8.4 rating, 14 share). NBC finished a narrow second with 12.3 million viewers (8.2, 13) and won handily in the 18-to-49-year-old demographic.

The World Series has started off poorly in the ratings, but still enabled Fox to hit third place with 10.9 million viewers (6.9, 11). ABC had 9.4 million viewers (6.1, 10), the WB had 4.9 million (3.1, 5), UPN 4.1 million (2.6, 4) and Pax TV 1.3 million (0.9, 1).

NBC's "Nightly News" won the evening news ratings race, averaging 10.4 million viewers (7.5 rating, 15 share). ABC's "World News Tonight" had 9.8 million viewers (7.1, 14) and the "CBS Evening News" had 8.4 million (6.0, 12).

A ratings point represents 1,067,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 106.7 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

Following are the prime-time ratings compiled by Nielsen Media Research for Oct. 14-20. Top 20 listings include the week's ranking, with rating for
the week and season-to-date rankings in parentheses.

An "X" in parentheses denotes a one-time-only presentation.

1. (1) "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," CBS, 18.6, 19.9 million homes.
2. (3) "ER," NBC, 16.2, 17.3 million homes.
3. (2) "Friends," NBC, 16.1, 17.2 million homes.
4. (4) "Everybody Loves Raymond," CBS, 13.6, 14.5 million homes.
5. (5) "Law & Order," NBC, 12.8, 13.7 million homes.
5. (8) "Survivor: Thailand," CBS, 12.8, 13.7 million homes.
7. (5) "CSI: Miami," CBS, 12.7, 13.6 million homes.
8. (5) "Will & Grace," NBC, 12.6, 13.4 million homes.
9. (X) "Fox World Series Game 2: San Francisco at Anaheim," Fox, 11.9, 12.7 million homes.
10. (9) "Scrubs," NBC, 11.3, 12.0 million homes.
11. (11) "The West Wing," NBC, 10.7, 11.4 million homes.
12. (12) "Still Standing," CBS, 10.5, 11.2 million homes.
13. (12) "Good Morning Miami," NBC, 10.3, 11.0 million homes.
13. (16) "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," NBC, 10.3, 11.0 million homes.
15. (15) "Judging Amy," CBS, 10.2, 11.0 million homes.
16. (18) "JAG," CBS, 10.1, 10.7 million homes.
17. (16) "Without a Trace," CBS, 10.0, 10.7 million homes.
18. (19) "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," NBC, 9.7, 10.3 million homes.
19. (10) "NFL Monday Night Football: San Francisco at Seattle," ABC, 9.6, 10.3 million homes.
19. (21) "Yes, Dear," CBS, 9.6, 10.2 million homes.

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21. "60 Minutes," CBS, 9.5
22. (X) "Fox World Series Game 1: San Francisco at Anaheim," Fox, 9.4
22. "Frasier," NBC, 9.4
24. "The King of Queens," CBS, 9.1
25. "The Guardian," CBS, 9.0
25. "The Practice," ABC, 9.0
27. "NYPD Blue," ABC, 8.7
28. "My Wife and Kids," ABC, 8.6
29. "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teen-age Daughter," ABC, 8.5
29. "The Bachelor," ABC, 8.5
29. (X) "Fox World Series Game 2 Pregame: San Francisco at Anaheim," Fox, 8.5
32. "Dateline NBC-Friday," NBC, 8.3
33. "According to Jim," ABC, 7.9
33. "Third Watch," NBC, 7.9
35. "Crossing Jordan," NBC, 7.7
36. "George Lopez," ABC, 7.6
37. "Providence," NBC, 7.5
38. "60 Minutes II," CBS, 7.4
38. "Dateline NBC-Tuesday," NBC, 7.4
40. "Ed," NBC, 7.3
41. "Becker," CBS, 7.2
41. "The District," CBS, 7.2
41. "Fear Factor," NBC, 7.2
41. "NFL Monday Showcase," ABC, 7.2
45. "American Dreams," NBC, 7.1
46. (X) "Fox MLB National League Championship Series Game 5:St. Louis at San Francisco," Fox, 6.9
47. "20/20-Friday," ABC, 6.8
47. "Boomtown," NBC, 6.8
49. "Hidden Hills," NBC, 6.6
50. "America's Funniest Home Videos," ABC, 6.0
50. "Hack," CBS, 6.0
50. "Less Than Perfect," ABC, 6.0
50. "Life With Bonnie," ABC, 6.0
54. "Alias," ABC, 5.9
55. "CBS Sunday Movie: Dancing at the Harvest Moon," CBS, 5.8
56. "The Agency," CBS, 5.7
56. "Amazing Race: 3," CBS, 5.7
56. "Bram and Alice," CBS, 5.7
59. "48 Hours Investigates," CBS, 5.6
59. "Just Shoot Me," NBC, 5.6
61. "7th Heaven," WB, 5.4
62. (X) "America's Funniest Home Videos-Friday," ABC, 5.3
62. "Monk," ABC, 5.3
62. "Touched By an Angel," CBS, 5.3
65. (X) "20/20 Special Edition-Monday," ABC, 5.2
65. "Presidio Med," CBS, 5.2
67. "Primetime Thursday," ABC, 5.0
67. "Smallville," WB, 5.0
69. (X) "ABC Sunday Night Movie-Sunday: Liar, Liar," ABC, 4.9
69. "In-laws," NBC, 4.9
71. "That '70s Show," Fox, 4.6
72. "MDs," ABC, 4.2
72. "Robbery Homicide Division," CBS, 4.2
74. "Everwood," WB, 4.0
74. "John Doe," Fox, 4.0
76. "Enterprise," UPN, 3.9
77. "The Bernie Mac Show," Fox, 3.8
77. "NBC Saturday Night Movies: The Fugitive," NBC, 3.8
79. "ABC Saturday Night at Movies: Lethal Weapon 3," ABC, 3.7
79. "Cedric the Entertainer: Presents," Fox, 3.7
79. "Gilmore Girls," WB, 3.7
82. (X) "Forensic Files-Saturday," NBC, 3.6
83. (X) "Cedric the Entertainer," Fox, 3.5
83. (X) "John Doe," Fox, 3.5
85. (X) "America's Most Wanted: Sniper," Fox, 3.4
85. "Birds Of Prey," WB, 3.4
85. "World Wresting Entertainment Smackdown!," UPN, 3.4
88. (X) "American Dreams Encore," NBC, 3.3
89. "Charmed," WB, 3.2
89. "Fastlane," Fox, 3.2
91. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," UPN, 3.0
91. "Girlfriends," UPN, 3.0
91. "One On One," UPN, 3.0
94. "Reba," WB, 2.9
95. "Angel," WB, 2.8
95. "Dawson's Creek," WB, 2.8
95. "Half and Half," UPN, 2.8
98. "Firefly," Fox, 2.7
98. "The Parkers," UPN, 2.7
100. "Push, Nevada," ABC, 2.3
100. "The Twilight Zone," UPN, 2.3
102. (X) "Fastlane," Fox, 2.2
102. "Greetings From Tucson," WB, 2.2
104. "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," WB, 2.1
104. "What I Like About You," WB, 2.1
106. "The Jamie Kennedy Experiment," WB, 1.9
107. "Family Affair," WB, 1.6
107. "Gilmore Girls," WB, 1.6
107. "Sue Thomas: F.B. Eye," Pax, 1.6
110. "Haunted," UPN, 1.5
110. "UPN's Movie Friday: The Man in the Iron Mask," UPN, 1.5
112. "Doc-Sunday," Pax, 1.4
113. "Do Over," WB, 1.3
113. "Off Centre," WB, 1.3
115. "Diagnosis Murder-Thursday," Pax, 1.1
115. "Diagnosis Murder-Wednesday," Pax, 1.1
115. "Just Cause-Sunday," Pax, 1.1
118. "Diagnosis Murder-Monday," Pax, 1.0
118. "Diagnosis Murder-Tuesday," Pax, 1.0
118. "Doc-Wednesday," Pax, 1.0
121. "Diagnosis Murder-Monday," Pax, 0.9
121. "It's a Miracle," Pax, 0.9
121. "Weakest Link," Pax, 0.9
124. "Diagnosis Murder-Friday," Pax, 0.8
125. "Americas Favorite Movies: Victor, Victoria," Pax, 0.7
125. "Candid Camera-Wednesday," Pax, 0.7
125. "Friday Night Flix: Sue Thomas: F.B. Eye Encore," Pax, 0.7
128. "Candid Camera-Sunday," Pax, 0.6
128. "Just Cause-Tuesday," Pax, 0.6
130. "Body and Soul-Monday," Pax, 0.5


By David Bauder