Lackluster Ratings for Katrina Benefit

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While Americans are donating generously to Hurricane Katrina (search) relief funds, they're apparently running out of patience for stars telling them to give.

Friday's benefit, "Shelter From the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast" (search), was seen by fewer than 24 million viewers despite being shown on 29 networks.

That's less than one third of the 89 million people who watched its model, the somber "America: A Tribute to Heroes," which ran shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to Nielsen Media Research (search).

It's also fewer than the number of people who typically tune in to a new episode of "American Idol" or "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation."

The concert, with Paul Simon, Mariah Carey, Kanye West and others, competed against a longer benefit on BET at the same time. BET got 1.2 million viewers, Nielsen said.

It's also still summer, when viewership generally is lighter. And the multinetwork show still was the most-watched prime-time program, though Nielsen doesn't rank shows without commercials.

Fox got the jump on the fall TV season, which begins officially next week. It presented a handful of season premieres, and "The Simpsons" landed in the top 10.

ABC took advantage of the start of National Football League season and some attractive college football matchups to win the week, averaging 8.3 million viewers (5.4 rating, 9 share). CBS had 7.5 million viewers (5.1, 8), Fox 7.4 million (4.7, 8), NBC 6.3 million (4.4, 7). The WB and UPN both had 2.2 million (1.5, 2) and Pax TV 740,000 (0.5, 1)

Evening news ratings were still up for ABC and NBC, but scaled back from last week's intensive hurricane coverage. NBC's "Nightly News" won, averaging 9.3 million viewers (6.8, 14). ABC's "World News Tonight" had 8.9 million viewers (6.3, 13) and the "CBS Evening News" had 6.4 million (4.5, 9).

A ratings point represents 1,096,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 109.6 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of Sept. 5-11, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NFL Football: Oakland at New England, ABC, 18 million; "2005 NFL Showcase," ABC, 16 million; "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," CBS, 12.9 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 11.7 million; "The O.T.," Fox, 11.5 million; "CSI: Miami" special, CBS, 11.3 million; "Without a Trace," CBS, 11.2 million; "Two and a Half Men," CBS, 11.2 million; "The Simpsons," Fox, 11.1 million; "Two and a Half Men" (Monday, 9 p.m.), CBS, 10.5 million.