May 24, 2011 / 9:19 PM / 8 years ago

CBS most watched TV network; Fox first in 18-49s

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - CBS on Tuesday again claimed the title of the most-watched U.S. television network, while Fox took the honors in the 18-49 age group most coveted by advertisers.

With two nights to go before the official end of the 2010-11 TV season, CBS is on track to finish with the most overall viewers for the 8th time in 9 years, according to Nielsen ratings.

Thanks largely to new hit comedy “Mike & Molly” and crime series “Hawaii Five-O”, CBS will place second to Fox in the 18-49 demographic — contrary to the perception that its shows attract mostly older audiences.

With a revamped “American Idol” not only holding onto its crown as America’s most watched show, but adding three percent in overall viewers, the vibrant “Glee” and the Super Bowl, Fox is headed for its seventh straight win among 18-49 year olds.

According to Nielsen, CBS will end the season with 11.6 million average primetime viewers this season, followed by Fox (9.7 million), ABC (8.5 million) and NBC (7.0 million).

In the 18-49 demographic, Fox is slated to end the season in first place, followed by CBS, ABC and CBS. The 2010-11 season ends officially on Wednesday.

CBS has 12 of the top 20 programs in terms of overall viewers, including crime staple “NCIS”, “The Mentalist” and comedy “The Big Bang Theory.”

CBS noted that despite having to run repeats of “Two and A Half Men” for half the season after the firing of star Charlie Sheen, the comedy matched NBC’s popular “The Office” among adults 18-49.

NBC is still struggling at the bottom of the major four networks despite its new ratings hit “The Voice”, which was thought to have premiered too late in the season to have a major impact.

ABC is expected to finish third despite having the top-rated comedy in 18-49 year olds with Emmy winner “Modern Family” and the No. 1 drama “Grey’s Anatomy”, as well as popular reality show “Dancing with the Stars.”

CBS is a unit of CBS Corp, Fox is a unit of News Corp, ABC is part of Walt Disney Co. and NBC is controlled by cable company Comcast Corp.

Reporting by Jill Serjeant, editing by Christine Kearney

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