Sports, Political Contests Dominate TV Ratings

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Nothing beats athletes clashing on the field for impressive TV ratings, but the skirmishes of CNBC's Republican debate came close.

         NFL programming and baseball's World Series dominated last week's ratings, taking seven of the top 20 spots, the Nielsen company said Tuesday,

         Viewers also were drawn to the debate with leading GOP presidential candidates. It was the week's top-ranked cable show with an audience of 14 million — a record for CNBC — and was among TV's top 10 overall despite competition from Game 2 between the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets.

         Even CNBC's post-debate show attracted an audience of 10.5 million.

         As solid as the debate viewership was compared to previous years, it was down sharply from the 24 million who saw the first GOP contest on Fox News Channel in August and the 23 million viewers who tuned in to CNN's event.

         The CNBC debate wasn't limited to fireworks among the candidates. Some of the moderators' questions drew rebukes from candidates who labeled them as unfair and, at one point, lightweight.

         Baseball-powered Fox won last week in prime time, averaging nearly 13 million viewers. CBS had 9.7 million; NBC had 8.2 million; ABC had 6 million; Univision had 2.3 million; Telemundo had 1.9 million; the CW had 1.5 million, and ION Television had 1 million.

         ESPN was the week's most popular cable network with an average 2.9 million. AMC, with the heft of hit series "The Walking Dead" on its side, had 2 million, and Fox News Channel and USA each had 1.62 million.

         "The Walking Dead" was the week's No. 2 cable program with 13.3 million viewers.

         NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.51 million viewers. ABC's "World News Tonight" was a close second with 8.5 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 7.2 million viewers.

         For the week of Oct. 26 to Nov. 1, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NBC Sunday Night Football: Green Bay at Denver, NBC, 23 million; "Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick," NBC, 18 million; "The OT," Fox, 17.9 million; NFL Football: Miami at New England, CBS, 17.5 million; World Series Game 5, Fox, 17.3 million; "NCIS," CBS, 16.8 million; World Series Game 5 preshow, Fox, 16.6 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 16.3 million; World Series Game 1, Fox, 14.9 million; Republican presidential debate, CNBC, 14 million.

         ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.

         – by AP Reporter Lynn Elber

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