NEW YORK (AP) – For college football’s national championship, it was a split decision among television viewers, too.

Both Sunday’s Sugar Bowl game and the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day drew an identical 23.9 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. Winners of the two games – LSU and Southern California – shared the national title.

Technically, the Sugar Bowl did slightly better: 23.94 million to 23.87 million. But that game had the advantage of being aired in prime time, which the Rose Bowl wasn’t. Both games were on ABC.

The statistical oddity highlighted a football-dominated week that gave ABC its first prime-time weekly ratings win since the Academy Awards.

Also last week, CBS had 10.5 million viewers for Friday’s “Michael Jackson Number Ones” special. The network had postponed the show in November when the pop star began facing child molestation accusations, and only rescheduled it when Jackson addressed the charges in a “60 Minutes” interview.

That’s not a bad rating for a special hurriedly scheduled for a Friday night, when viewership is generally down. Only the Fiesta Bowl game beat Jackson in the time slot.

For the week, ABC averaged 13.9 million viewers (8.6 rating, 14 share), CBS had 10.7 million (7.0, 12), NBC 9 million (5.8, 10), Fox 6.3 million (3.9, 6), the WB 3 million (2.1, 3), UPN 2.8 million (1.9, 3) and Pax TV 900,000 (0.6, 1).

NBC’s “Nightly News” won the evening news ratings race, averaging 11.7 million viewers (7.7 rating, 14 share). ABC’s “World News Tonight” had 9.9 million (6.9, 13) and the “CBS Evening News” 9.4 million (6.4, 12).

A ratings point represents 1,084,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation’s estimated 108.4 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For Dec. 29-Jan. 4, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: “AFC/NFC Showcase,” ABC, 25.1 million; NFL Playoff: Dallas at Carolina, ABC, 24.7 million; Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma vs. LSU, ABC, 23.9 million; “AFC Postgame Show,” CBS, 19.1 million; “Rose Bowl Postgame Show,” ABC, 17.9 million; “Sugar Bowl Pregame Show,” ABC, 17.4 million; “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 16.2 million; “60 Minutes,” CBS, 15.8 million; “Everybody Loves Raymond,” CBS, 15.1 million; “CSI: Miami,” CBS, 15.1 million.

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AP-ES-01-06-04 1538EST

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