NEW YORK (AP) -- The "CBS Evening News" audience has taken a noticeable dip ever since the latest round of speculation over Katie Couric's job. The broadcast averaged 5.34 million viewers last week, breaking a record low for CBS News' flagship show that had been set the week before, according to Nielsen Media Research.
The "CBS Evening News" - No. 3 in a three-way competition - had nearly 2.5 million fewer viewers than No. 2.
NBC's "Nightly News" led with 8.02 million viewers last week (5.5 rating, 12 share), with ABC's "World News" averaging 7.79 million (5.4, 12). CBS had a 3.7 rating and 8 share.
Top CBS brass went to the newsroom April 18 to offer Couric support following a round of news stories questioning how long she'll stay as anchor. They promised she'd be on the job at least through the presidential election, but have indicated her status will be re-evaluated then if ratings don't improve.
In prime time, the start of the May ratings "sweeps" led to a spirited competition among CBS, Fox and ABC.
Even with writers back at the scripted series, the talent contests "American Idol" and "Dancing With the Stars" took up the top four spots in the ratings.
CBS scored with its deep lineup of procedural dramas, ABC with its prime-time soaps and Fox with you-know-what. Besides "American Idol," the only Fox programs among the 30 most-watched shows were (No. 19) "Hell's Kitchen" and (No. 30) "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?"
Among the few NBC highlights was "Law & Order," which had its best ratings since the season premiere for an episode marking Jesse L. Martin's farewell appearance.
For the week, CBS led with 9.24 million viewers (6.0 rating, 10 share). Fox had 9.16 million (5.6, 9), ABC 9.08 million (5.9, 10), NBC 7 million (4.6, 8), the CW 2.6 million (1.7, 3), My Network TV 1.3 million (0.9, 1) and ION Television 440,000 (0.3, 1). Fox won for the 16th consecutive week among the 18-to-49-year-old age group advertisers love.
Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with 3.6 million viewers (1.9 rating, 3 share), Telemundo had 1.1 million (0.6, 1), TeleFutura 580,000 (0.3, 1) and Azteca 130,000 (0.1, 0).
A ratings point represents 1,128,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 112.8 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.
For the week of April 21-27, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "American Idol" (Tuesday), Fox, 24.74 million; "American Idol" (Wednesday), Fox, 23.2 million; "Dancing With the Stars" (Monday), ABC, 18.04 million; "Dancing With the Stars" (Tuesday), ABC, 17.97 million; "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," CBS, 17.02 million; "Grey's Anatomy," ABC, 16.37 million; "Desperate Housewives," ABC, 16.35 million; "CSI: Miami," CBS, 14.38 million; "NCIS," CBS, 14.24 million; "Without a Trace," CBS, 13.47 million.
ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is a division of CBS Corp. Fox is a unit of News Corp. NBC is owned by General Electric Co. Telemundo is owned by General Electric. TeleFutura is a division of Univision. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.
On the Net: