Irreverence Trumps Reverence in Nielsens

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It's unclear whether a football overrun helped depress viewing, but CBS' critically acclaimed miniseries on the life of Pope John Paul II did not draw many of the TV faithful.

Part I of the series (John Paul II, part II, airs Wednesday) averaged only a 1.6 rating/4 share in the Nielsen overnight ratings in the 18-49 demo for fourth place among the Big Four at 9:30-10 p.m. and third among the Big Three at 10-11. (Fox doesn't program in the 10-11 time slot.)

It did start a half-hour late at about 9:30 and was up against the ABC powerhouse Sunday lineup of Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy. But the mini also fell to Crossing Jordan (NBC), American Dad (Fox) and Law & Order (NBC).

ABC won the night in a walk with a 7.4/18 average in 18-49's, more than double second-place CBS, which benefited from football at 7-7:30 (6.7/19) and strong showings from 60 Minutes (4.9/12) and even a repeat of Cold Case (3.2/8).

Fox was third with a 3.3/8 for its lineup of primarily repeats of irreverent animated sitcoms, led by The Simpsons (4.3/10) at 8.

NBC was fourth with a 2.7/6 for low-rated Dateline (2/5) and West Wing (1.9/5) and better-performing Law & Order: Criminal Intent (3.5/8) and Crossing Jordan (3.6/9).

The WB was fifth with a 1.8/2 for a repeat of its film Felicity, the second in the American Girl Doll series.

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