Morning Ratings Flash - Rick Kissell

A down-to-the-wire finish in the most-anticipated college football championship games in years produced huge ratings for ABC on Wednesday night, expected to rank as the sports highest-rated game in 19 years.

The University of Texas’ 41-38 victory over USC in the Rose Bowl Game averaged a 12.0 rating/29 share in adults 18-49 and 34 million viewers overall on ABC affiliates from 8 to 11, but the nationals ratings for the game will come in higher. This is expected to be the highest-rated championship game since the Penn State-Miami contest in 1987, and it is easily the top primetime draw of the season for any net.

In Nielsen’s metered-market household ratings, game averaged a 22.7, although this figure does not include the Dallas market, which would lift it higher. In Los Angeles, the game’s 35.4 rating was a 72% jump over the 20.6 for last year’s championship game when the Trojans beat the Oklahoma Sooners.

NBC finished second on the night in demos with a two-hour “Biggest Loser” special that averaged a 3.6/9 in 18-49 and 8.5 million viewers overall from 8 to 10, the net’s second best result in the time period in the last nine months. And at 10, “Law & Order” was on the high side for a repeat 9 (3.7/9 in 18-49, 10.3 million viewers overall)

CBS was solid with repeats of “Criminal Minds” (3.6/8 in 18-49, 11.9 million viewers overall) and “CSI: NY” (3.8/9 in 18-49, 11.3 million viewers overall, and Fox was paced at 8 by a repeat of “That ’70s Show” (2.6/7 in 18-49, 5.3 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages: ABC, 12.0/29; NBC, 3.6/9; CBS, 3.2/8; Fox, 2.3/6; WB, 0.8/2; UPN, 0.8/2.

In total viewers: ABC, 34.0 million; CBS, 10.1 million; NBC, 9.1 million; Fox, 5.2 million; UPN, 1.9 million; WB, 1.8 million.

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