NEW YORK (AP) -- A mother of octuplets, poor children from the Appalachians and soccer players from the United States and Mexico all proved unlikely keys to ratings success for television networks last week.
Ann Curry's interview with Nadya Suleman, who gave birth to eight children last month, was seen by 11.3 million people on "Dateline NBC," according to Nielsen Media Research.
It was — by two million viewers — the most-watched prime-time program on struggling NBC last week. NBC hadn't gotten as many viewers in the time slot since Election Night, and, for "Dateline NBC," it was the biggest audience since Matt Lauer interviewed Britain's Prince William and Prince Harry in 2007.
Diane Sawyer's special "20/20" on poor youngsters in the Kentucky hills drew the largest audience for the ABC newsmagazine since September 2004.
People responded to the individual stories, too: Shawn Grim, the high school football star who lived in a truck to avoid his troubled family, has received offers of college scholarships and to be a plumber's apprentice since the show aired, according to ABC.
Erica, a 12-year-old girl whose mother has been fighting drug addiction, now has a local tutor and an education trust fund. The Christian Appalachian Project, a service organization, has received $40,000 in donations and hundreds of calls from people wanting to donate goods and their time, ABC said.
Last week's World Cup qualifying soccer game between the U.S. and Mexico, held in Columbus, Ohio, was seen by 5.9 million people last week on Univision. The latest event in this growing sports rivalry was the most-watched sports event ever on Spanish-language television, the network said.
The audience on Spanish-language television far outpaced ESPN2's English telecast. Still, the 1.2 million people who watched on ESPN2 was the largest audience for any of the 26 qualifying matches the network has shown dating back to 2001, Nielsen said.
Fox's much-promoted "Dollhouse" premiere last week turned out to be a dud, with an audience of less than 4.8 million viewers, Nielsen said.
Another troubled show is NBC's critically praised "Friday Night Lights." Its audience of 3.5 million people was smaller than My Network TV's turnout for professional wrestling.
CBS won the week, averaging 11.4 million viewers (7.1 rating, 12 share). Fox had 10 million viewers (5.8, 9), ABC had 7.6 million (4.8, 8), NBC had 6.4 million (4.1, 7). The CW (1.1, 2) and My Network (0.9, 2), both averaged 1.5 million viewers. ION Television had 600,000 viewers (0.4, 1).
Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with an average of 4.1 million viewers (2.0, 3), Telemundo had 1.2 million (0.6, 1), TeleFutura had 710,000 (0.4, 1) and Azteca had 180,000 (0.1, 0).
NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 9.4 million viewers (6.2, 12). ABC's "World News" was second with 8.2 million (5.6, 11) and the "CBS Evening News" had 6.8 million viewers (4.5, 9).
A ratings point represents 1,145,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 114.5 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.
For the week of Feb. 9-15, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "American Idol" (Tuesday), Fox, 24.94 million; "American Idol" (Wednesday), Fox, 24.83 million; "The Mentalist," CBS, 19.7 million; "NCIS," CBS, 18.03 million; "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," CBS, 17.94 million; "Grey's Anatomy," ABC, 15.16 million; "Two and a Half Men," CBS, 15 million; "Without a Trace," CBS, 14.31 million; "Private Practice," ABC, 14.1 million; "Desperate Housewives," ABC, 14.01 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 General Electric Co. 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.
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