Television executives breathed easier Wednesday after Nielsen Research released ratings for the first week following the terrorist attacks showing that viewers were not only returning to their favorite dramas and comedies, but in some cases doing so in record numbers.
ABC's The Practice, for example, pulled its best ratings ever for a season debut to place second on the Nielsen list for only the second time. (The first time was the season finale in May.)
The CBS comedy Everybody Loves Raymond, already a big hit with older viewers, drew its best numbers to date for adults under 35. Even a rerun of Friends drew record numbers of 18-49-year-old viewers.
"Viewers are ready to get back to the habits of normal life, and [primetime] TV programming is very much a part of that," Stacey Lynn Koerner, head of broadcast research at ad-buyer Initiative Media, told Bloomberg News.
And on CNN's Live at Daybreak Wednesday, TV Guide critic Max Roush commented, "There is a sense that we are ready to turn to TV as sort of our comfort food to a certain extent."
The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:
1. NBC Bush Analysis I, 9:41 p.m. Thursday, NBC, 14.5/20; 2. The Practice, ABC, 11.8/18; 3. NBC Bush Analysis II 9:53 Thursday, NBC, 11.7/17; 4. Friends, NBC, 11.4/18; 5. 60 Minutes, CBS, 10.9/19; 5. The Education of Max Bickford, CBS, 10.9/17; 7. 60 Minutes II CBS, 10.4/17; 8. 48 Hours (Tuesday), CBS, 9.0/14; 8. E.R. NBC, 9.0/14; 10. Miss America Contest, ABC, 8.9/16.