Illustrating unusual strength for new series, both "Person of Interest" on CBS and "Once Upon a Time" on ABC were the most popular programs on their networks last week.
"Person of Interest," the J.J. Abrams crime-fighting thriller that was one of the most anticipated new shows of the season, hit a series high with 15.7 million viewers last week, the Nielsen Co. said. The Thursday night series has been doing particularly well in the past couple of months, making it likely CBS has a new franchise for several years to come.
It was the first time "Person of Interest" was CBS' most popular show of the week, undoubtedly helped by "NCIS" airing a rerun.
The fairytale "Once Upon a Time" was ABC's most-watched show for the second time this season (it also helped that "Modern Family" was in a repeat).
The Sunday night series with the supposed daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming is particularly popular with young women and has exceeded the network's expectations this season. ABC was counting on the new "GCB" to be the successor to the departing "Desperate Housewives," but so far "Once Upon a Time" has attracted more viewer interest.
Meanwhile, the slide of the Emmy-winning comedy "30 Rock" continues at NBC. It finished No. 91 last week among broadcast shows — behind 10 telecasts on the Spanish-language Univision — and its audience is down 13 percent so far this season, Nielsen said.
Their numbers are still a fraction of the most popular broadcast shows, but two cable networks had strong showings this past weekend. Oprah Winfrey's interview Sunday with Whitney Houston's daughter Bobbi Kristina brought 3.5 million viewers to Winfrey's OWN network, its biggest audience to date.
HBO's movie about Sarah Palin's 2008 vice presidential campaign, "Game Change," was the network's most-watched original film in nearly eight years. It was seen by 2.1 million people Saturday night, a total of 3.6 million during four separate airings over the weekend.
The two singing competitions — Fox's "American Idol" and NBC's "The Voice" — were the most popular shows on television last week. The next 14 most-watched shows were all on CBS, enabling the network to dominate the weekly competition with a prime-time average of 9.5 million viewers (6.0 rating, 10 share).
Fox averaged 7 million viewers (4.1, 7), NBC had 6 million (3.8, 6), ABC had 5.5 million (3.6, 6), ION Television had 1.2 million (0.8, 1) and the CW had 1.1 million (0.7, 1).
Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with a 3.4 million viewer average in prime-time (1.8 rating, 3 share). Telemundo had 1.3 million (0.7, 1), TeleFutura had 630,000 (0.3, 1), Estrella had 230,000 and Azteca 160,000 (both 0.1, 0).
NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.9 million viewers (6.0, 11). ABC's "World News" was second with 7.5 million (5.2, 10) and the "CBS Evening News" had 6.3 million viewers (4.2, 8).
A ratings point represents 1,147,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 114.7 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.
For the week of March 5-11, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships:
1. "American Idol" (Wednesday), Fox, 18.69 million.
2. "American Idol" (Thursday), Fox, 17.27 million.
3. "The Voice," NBC, 16.85 million.
4. "Person of Interest," CBS, 15.67 million.
5. "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 15.05 million.
6. "NCIS," CBS, 14.49 million.
7. "The Mentalist," CBS, 13.84 million.
8. "The Big Bang Theory" (Thursday, 8:31 p.m.), CBS, 12.41 million.
9. "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 12.1 million.
10. "The Mentalist" (Friday), CBS, 11.34 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 and My Network TV are units of News Corp. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks. TeleFutura is a division of Univision. Azteca America is a wholly owned subsidiary of TV Azteca S.A. de C.V.