NEW YORK -- Crime seems to be paying off for television networks this fall.
While cable news networks get some of their best ratings of the year for the ongoing sniper saga, broadcasters are finding criminal justice stories are a hit in prime-time.
All three of the "Law & Order" franchises on NBC hit Nielsen Media Research's top 20 shows last week, along with both "CSI" series on CBS. Add in "Judging Amy" and CBS' new "Without a Trace," and that's seven crime-based hours among the top 20.
"CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" is settling in as television's most popular show. It drew nearly 31 million viewers last week, 5 million more than "Friends" or "ER."
Both ABC and CBS thought to challenge NBC's popular "Law & Order" with medical dramas on Wednesday night, and both are on life support. The roughly 13 million viewers who saw CBS' "Presidio Med" and ABC's "MDs" together couldn't match the 19.3 million "Law & Order" viewers last week.
CBS won the Nielsen crown for the fourth straight week, averaging 12.7 million viewers in prime-time (8.4 rating, 14 share). NBC finished a narrow second with 12.3 million viewers (8.2, 13) and won handily in the 18-to-49-year-old demographic.
The World Series has started off poorly in the ratings.
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