NEW YORK (AP) – The 40 million viewers who watched the NFC championship game between the Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles gave Fox a prime-time ratings victory last week.

Fox won even though its highest-rated programs unrelated to the game – two episodes of “The Simple Life” – were ranked Nos. 34 and 35 in popularity, Nielsen Media Research said Thursday.

NBC’s “Friends” was seen by 26.7 million people last week, a season high, as fans of the comedy count down to its final episode in May.

Donald Trump is smiling, too, as “The Apprentice” was seen by 20.2 million viewers last week. Now it will go against Fox’s juggernaut, “American Idol,” every week.

CBS’ “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” was the week’s most-watched entertainment program, with 28.7 million viewers.

For the week, Fox averaged 13.6 million viewers (8.3 rating, 13 share) and CBS had 13.2 million viewers (8.6, 14). CBS’ higher ratings indicates more TV sets were tuned in to CBS – but more people were watching the sets with Fox on.

NBC averaged 11.6 million viewers (7.5, 12), ABC had 7.8 million (5.1, 8), the WB 3.6 million and UPN 3.5 million (both 2.4, 4) and Pax TV had 1 million (0.7, 1).

NBC’s “Nightly News” won the evening news ratings race, averaging 11.4 million viewers (7.8 rating, 15 share). ABC’s “World News Tonight” had 10.6 million (7.3, 13) and the “CBS Evening News” had 8.6 million (6.0, 11).

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 the week of Jan. 12-18, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NFC Championship: Carolina vs. Philadelphia, Fox, 40.4 million; “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 28.7 million; “Friends,” NBC, 26.7 million; “ER,” NBC, 21.6 million; “The Apprentice,” NBC, 20.2 million; “CSI: Miami,” CBS, 19.7 million; “Everybody Loves Raymond,” CBS, 19.3 million; “NFC Championship Postgame Show,” Fox, 18.8 million; “Two and a Half Men,” CBS, 17.9 million; “Without a Trace,” CBS, 17.4 million.



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