NEW YORK (AP) -- In its first broadcast after the death of creator Charles M. Schulz, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" soared in the ratings on CBS last week.
The annual holiday cartoon drew nearly 19 million viewers, a 45 percent increase over 1999. It was the program's best showing since 1995, and was the most popular program of the week among children aged 2-11, according to Nielsen Media Research.
CBS has scheduled a rebroadcast of the tale for Christmas night at 8 p.m.
The show premiered on CBS on Dec. 9, 1965, and has been broadcast every year since. Its soundtrack is a popular holiday CD. Schulz, the "Peanuts" comic strip creator and producer of the television special, died Feb. 12.
Television's most popular show last week was unscheduled: the ending of the contested presidential race. Nielsen estimated that 66.2 million people watched Al Gore's concession speech Wednesday, and 63.4 million people saw George W. Bush claim victory.
The most popular scheduled show was NBC's "ER," which drew just under 30 million viewers.
NBC, with an average of 13 million viewers in prime time, was last week's network winner (8.8 rating, 14 share). ABC had 12.8 million viewers (8.7, 14), CBS had 11.9 million (8.1, 13), Fox had 9.6 million (5.9, 9), UPN had 3.9 million (2.6, 4), the WB had 3.5 million (2.4, 4) and Pax TV had 1.4 million (0.9, 1).
In a busy news week, NBC's "Nightly News" won the evening news ratings race with an average of 12 million viewers (8.6 rating, 16 share). ABC's "World News Tonight" had 10.7 million (8.0, 15) and the "CBS Evening News" had 9.9 million (7.3, 15).
A rating point represents 1,022,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 102.2 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.
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