NEW YORK The television audience appears to have made its choice of serial killers. Fox's Joe Carroll beats NBC's Hannibal Lecter in viewer interest.
Last week's Nielsen Co. ratings make that clear. “The Following,” the gruesome series that debuted on Fox in January, is a hit. With 7.8 million viewers, it was Fox's most popular program last week after “American Idol” and will be on the network's schedule for next season when that is unveiled next week.
Meanwhile, struggling NBC had a lot of hopes for “Hannibal,” its tale of a better-known fictional serial killer, for its spring schedule. Last week's episode had only 2.6 million viewers, making it hard to believe the series will last into another season.
There may have been room for only one. Fox got “The Following” on the schedule sooner and lined up a big star in Kevin Bacon for a role in the series, and “Hannibal” was unable to catch up.
One NBC show that may be on the bubble is “Community,” which had 2.7 million viewers last week. Between that comedy and two that have already finished the season, “Go On” and “Whitney,” it's likely NBC will pick one or two of them to continue, said Bill Gorman of the website TV By the Numbers, which sets odds for renewals and cancellations.
Next week is an annual rite of spring for the networks, when it reveals fall schedule plans and hosts lavish parties in New York for advertisers and the intermediaries that buy commercial time.
CBS was the most popular broadcast network last week, averaging 9.2 million viewers in prime time. ABC had 6.7 million, Fox had 6 million, NBC had 5.6 million, Univision had 3.4 million, Telemundo had 1.6 million, the CW had 1.3 million and ION Television had 1.1 million.
TNT was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 2.9 million viewers in prime time. USA had 2.4 million, the Disney Channel had 2.3 million, Fox News Channel had 1.8 million and History had 1.7 million.
NBC's “Nightly News” topped the evening newscasts with an average of 7.9 million viewers. ABC's “World News” was second with 7.3 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 6.2 million viewers.
For the week of April 29-May 5, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: “NCIS,” CBS, 18.29 million; The Big Bang Theory,” CBS, 16.29 million; “Dancing With the Stars,” ABC, 13.45 million; “NCIS: Los Angeles,” CBS, 13.07 million; “Person of Interest,” CBS, 12.96 million; “The Voice” (Monday), NBC, 12.67 million; “Two and a Half Men,” CBS, 12.12 million; “The Voice” (Tuesday), NBC, 11.84 million; “American Idol” (Thursday), Fox, 11.27 million; “American Idol” (Wednesday), Fox, 11.26 million.