TV’s new season draws big ratings

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.