By DAVID BAUDER
NEW YORK - Television viewers have responded with keen interest to the first wave of programming surrounding the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination.
The National Geographic Channel set a ratings record for its network with its "Killing Kennedy" special, the Nielsen company said Tuesday. CNN's special more than doubled its typical audience for a weeknight. CBS' look back Saturday on its own Kennedy coverage, with 4.6 million viewers, had an audience 24 percent higher than the same time slot a year ago. Three PBS specials last week all brought in bigger audiences than is typical for public broadcasting.
"There's just an enduring fascination with Kennedy - the man, the family, the presidency and the tragic end to all of it," said Beth Hoppe, PBS' programming chief.
PBS last week aired a four-hour "American Experience" documentary on Kennedy over two days, and its average of 2.7 million viewers was 78 percent above what PBS typically gets in those time slots. NOVA's "Cold Case: JFK" and the "JFK: One PM Central Time" tick-tock of assassination coverage similarly exceeded averages.
Fox News Channel's Nov. 9 special with Bill Hemmer looking at questions surrounding the assassination investigation reached an audience 27 percent bigger than what the network usually gets on a Saturday night.
The extensive Kennedy programming on various networks made Hoppe glad that PBS went a little early (the actual assassination anniversary is this Friday), but she said the strong numbers overall makes her think there's an appetite for more.
CBS won the week in prime-time among the broadcast networks, averaging 9.8 million viewers. NBC had 8.8 million viewers, ABC had 6.6 million, Fox had 6.1 million, Univision had 3.5 million, the CW had 1.8 million, Telemundo had 1.2 million and ION Television had 1.1 million.
ESPN was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 3.4 million viewers in prime-time. The Disney Channel had 2.1 million, Hallmark had 2.03 million, Fox News Channel had 1.97 million and USA had 1.8 million.
NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 9.3 million viewers. ABC's "World News" was second with 8.2 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 7.1 million viewers.
For the week of Nov. 11-17, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NFL Football: Kansas City at Denver, NBC, 26.95 million; "Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick," NBC, 19.92 million; "NCIS," 19.37 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 18.3 million; "The OT," Fox, 14.99 million; "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 14.89 million; "Football Night in America," NBC, 14.02 million; "Person of Interest," CBS, 12.6 million; "Dancing With the Stars," ABC, 12.57 million; "The Walking Dead," AMC, 12 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 is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.
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