In Its 7th Season, CBS' 'NCIS' Hits The Top Spot

The opposite of an overnight success, Mark Harmon’s military crime-solving drama “NCIS” has ascended to the position of television’s most popular scripted show in its seventh season on the air.

Both weeks of this new TV season, it was the most-watched program, according to the Nielsen Co. Last week’s audience of 21.4 million viewers was its largest ever.

During its first season in 2003-04, “NCIS” was only a moderate success, averaging 11.8 million viewers per week and ranking 26th among all programs. It took off last season, after more viewers were exposed to the series through reruns that began airing on cable’s USA.

“NCIS” has even given this season’s new spinoff, “NCIS: Los Angeles,” a running start. The new series, starring Chris O’Donnell and LL Cool J, follows the mother ship on Tuesday night and was the second most popular drama of the week, Nielsen said.

Another new CBS show, Julianne Margulies’ “The Good Wife,” is starting off strongly. It was No. 14 in last week’s rankings.

For troubled NBC, the drama “Law & Order: SVU,” at No. 40 was the network’s most-watched scripted show of the week, Nielsen said.

Fans might also wish to move fast if they want to check out a handful of other shows that may not be around much longer if their ratings don’t improve. Among them: ABC’s “Shark Tank,” NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” '‘Community” and “Heroes.”

For the week, CBS averaged 11.3 million viewers (7.2 rating, 12 share). ABC had 9.6 million viewers (6.2, 10) and NBC had 7.8 million (4.9, 8). Fox had 7.6 million (4.5, 7), but it managed to win among the advertiser-friendly 18-to-49-year-old demographic. The CW had 2.2 million (1.5, 2) and ION Television had 650,000 (0.4, 1).

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led the way with 3.8 million viewers (2.0 rating, 3 share), Telemundo had 1.1 million (0.5, 1), TeleFutura had 830,000 (0.4, 1) and Azteca had 190,000 (0.1, 0).

NBC’s “Nightly News” topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.3 million viewers (5.5, 11). ABC’s “World News” was second with 7.7 million (5.2, 11) and the “CBS Evening News” had 5.7 million viewers (4, 8).

A ratings point represents 1,149,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation’s estimated 114.9 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of Sept. 28-Oct. 4, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: “NCIS,” CBS, 21.37 million; NFL Football: San Diego at Pittsburgh, NBC, 18.42 million; “NCIS: Los Angeles,” CBS, 17.4 million; “Dancing With the Stars,” 17.03 million; “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 15.94 million; “The Mentalist,” CBS, 15.75 million; “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC, 15.69 million; “Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick,” NBC, 14.84 million; “House,” Fox, 14.71 million; “Desperate Housewives,” ABC, 14.64 million.

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