NEW YORK (AP) – More than 9 million people awakened early or stayed up late to watch Friday’s TV coverage of Pope John Paul II’s funeral from Rome, Nielsen Media Research said on Tuesday.

The bulk of those viewers, 8.8 million, tuned to ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News Channel or MSNBC, all of which carried the Mass live. An estimated 370,000 people watched on either Telemundo, Azteca America or Univision, Nielsen said.

The funeral began at 4 a.m. on the East Coast, 1 a.m. in the West. Nielsen had no immediate comparison of what television viewing normally is at that hour.

However, ABC’s “World News Now,” which is offered to its stations between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m., averages 680,000 viewers each night. An NBC News show, “Early Today,” averages 1.2 million viewers at 4:30 a.m.

More people watched the pope’s funeral in the pre-dawn hours than watched, for example, such prime-time fare as NBC’s made-for-TV movie on the the old “Mork & Mindy” series or “The King of Queens” on CBS or ABC’s “Jake in Progress.”

CBS had another dominant week in prime time, helped by the popular NCAA men’s basketball championship between North Carolina and Illinois, which was seen by just under 24 million people. ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” was the week’s most-watched program.

For the week, CBS averaged 12.4 million viewers (8.1 rating, 13 share), and won among the 18-to-49-year-old demographic sought by advertisers.

ABC averaged 9 million viewers (5.9, 10), Fox had 8.4 million (5.3, 9), NBC had 8.3 million (5.7, 9), UPN had 3.1 million (2.1, 3), the WB had 2.9 million (2.0, 3) and Pax TV had 660,000 (0.5, 1).

Curious viewers made ABC’s “World News Tonight” the lead newscast last Tuesday, when anchor Peter Jennings announced that he had lung cancer, and also for the next night. But NBC’s “Nightly News” won for the full week, averaging 8.9 million viewers (6.5 rating, 14 share). ABC had 8.8 million (6.2, 13) and the “CBS Evening News” had 6.2 million (4.5, 9).

A ratings point represents 1,096,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation’s estimated 109.6 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of April 4-10, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: “Desperate Housewives,” ABC, 25.5 million; “American Idol” (Tuesday), Fox, 24.5 million; “American Idol” (Wednesday), Fox, 24.1 million; “NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship: North Carolina vs. Illinois,” CBS, 23.9 million; “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 22.6 million; “Survivor: Palau,” CBS, 19.8 million; “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC, 18 million; “Lost,” ABC, 17.1 million; “60 Minutes,” CBS, 15.7 million; “Without a Trace,” CBS, 15.5 million.


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