Networks Already Juggling TV Schedules

Two weeks into a new TV season and the juggling of schedules has already begun, except at quick-starting ABC (search) and CBS (search).

CBS remained the nation's most-watched network and ABC led among the 18-to-49-year-old group most valuable with advertisers, the first time ABC has won the first two weeks of the season among this demographic in 11 years, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Both networks are prospering more because of popular returning shows — "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and "Desperate Housewives" were in their customary top two slots — than because of anything new.

The premiere of "Commander in Chief" (search) with Geena Davis was the only new program in Nielsen's top 20 and even that came with an asterisk: the show's audience skewed old, not something ABC really wants.

NBC said this Friday's airing of the new fertility clinic drama, "Inconceivable," (search) was being yanked in favor of a "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" rerun. It's not officially a cancellation, but given that only 4.5 million people saw "Inconceivable" last week, its prospects are dim.

Starting Wednesday, NBC will flip-flop the Pentagon drama "E-Ring" (search) and the Martha Stewart version of "The Apprentice" (search) on its schedule in a bid to give the struggling shows new life.

UPN has stopped production on the Denise Richards comedy, "Sex, Love & Secrets," (search) although some already filmed episodes may still air.

FOX has already canceled "Head Cases." (search) The FOX schedule is about to go into its traditional October hibernation with the start of baseball's postseason.

Except for the comedic soap opera "Desperate Housewives," Nielsen's top 10 is laugh-free. The first comedy is No. 15 "Two and a Half Men" on CBS.

The season premiere of "Without a Trace" on CBS drew 21 million viewers, and only reinforced NBC's problems on Thursday night. It soundly beat NBC's long-running hit "ER," which had 14.4 million viewers.

Between "Everybody Hates Chris" and "Smallville," UPN and the WB had nearly 12 million viewers in a Thursday night time slot once dominated by NBC. "Joey" had barely 7.5 million viewers.

With 10.4 million viewers, Donald Trump's version of "The Apprentice" is not the hit it used to be, but he still has bragging rights over Stewart (6.1 million).

For the week, CBS averaged 12.6 million viewers (8.3 rating, 13 share), ABC had 11.1 million (7.2, 12), NBC 9.1 million (6.2, 10), FOX 7.5 million (4.8, 8), the WB and UPN finished in a dead heat with 3.5 million (both 2.3, 4) and Pax TV 510,000 (0.4, 1).

NBC's "Nightly News" won the evening news ratings race in commanding fashion, averaging 9.1 million viewers (6.4, 13). ABC's "World News Tonight" had 7.9 million viewers (5.6, 12) and the "CBS Evening News" had 6.5 million (4.7, 10).

A ratings point represents 1,102,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 110.2 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of Sept. 26-Oct. 3, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," CBS, 28 million; "Desperate Housewives," ABC, 27.1 million; "Lost," ABC, 23.1 million; "Without a Trace," CBS, 21 million; "Grey's Anatomy," ABC, 17.6 million; "CSI: Miami," CBS, 17.4 million; "Survivor: Guatemala," CBS, 17.3 million; "Cold Case," CBS, 16.7 million; "Commander in Chief," ABC, 16.4 million; "Law & Order: SVU," NBC, 15.3 million.