Balanced lineup helps lead network to victory

NBC had the “Biggest Loser” and the biggest show, but CBS edged past the Peacock for the demo lead last week and has now opened up a bit of a lead for the season race.

CBS continues to exhibit the most balance of any network, scoring big last week as usual but also with some best-yet numbers for its Monday comedy block. Also, first-year Tuesday drama “The Mentalist” saw its strongest scores to date.

According to national estimates from Nielsen that include live plus same-day DVR playback, CBS prevailed for the Dec. 15-21 frame with a 2.7 rating/8 share to a 2.7/6 for NBC. Fox ran third (2.1/6), with ABC a frail fourth (1.6/5).

 CBS also had an especially dominant week in total viewers, claiming nine of the week’s top 10 programs in this category and easily besting runner-up NBC (11.2 million to 7.5 million).

The Eye has finished fall down just 3% vs. a year ago in adults 18-49 to lead with a 3.3 rating/9 share to a 3.1/8 for ABC, which has faded the last couple of weeks and is down 14% vs. last season. NBC (3.0/8) and Fox (2.9/8) aren’t far behind, both declining by 9% in the demo vs. their fall performance of last season.

CBS is now up slightly year-to-year in total viewers (12.02 million), while ABC (9.85 million), NBC (7.99 million) and Fox (7.84 million) are all off 9%.

Looking at the week’s highlights, CBS was especially strong the first half of week, kicking off with its biggest Monday since the opening night of the season. Opening-hour comedies “The Big Bang Theory” (4.1/11 in 18-49, 11.22 million viewers overall) and “How I Met Your Mother” (4.6/11 in 18-49, 11.37 million viewers overall) achieved series-best scores, leading into “Two and a Half Men” (5.6/13 in 18-49, 17.92 million viewers overall), which logged its best demo score since February 2007 and its largest overall aud since May 2005 (when it aired behind “Everybody Loves Raymond”). Rookie laffer “Worst Week” contributed as well with best-since-premiere scores (3.6/8 in 18-49, 12.04 million viewers overall).

On Tuesday, the Eye’s drama lineup of “NCIS” (4.0/11 in 18-49, 19.94 million viewers overall), “The Mentalist” (4.2/11 in 18-49, 19.31 million viewers overall) and “Without a Trace” (3.2/9 in 18-49, 14.48 million viewers overall) combined for the net’s best 18-49 showing with its regular lineup since March 2006 and its largest overall aud on the night since February 1995.

CBS went on to win Wednesday behind original episodes “Criminal Minds” (3.9/11 in 18-49, 15.16 million viewers overall) and “CSI: NY” (3.6/10 in 18-49, 13.38 million viewers overall) and also took Thursday even with “CSI” in repeat (2.9/8 in 18-49, 12.68 million viewers overall).

NBC claimed the week’s No. 1 program with its “Sunday Night Football” matchup between the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers (6.8/18 in 18-49, 18.86 million viewers overall) and performed well on Tuesday with the finale of “The Biggest Loser” (4.6/12 in 18-49, 11.83 million viewers overall). The weight-loss series ranked No. 3 for the week in 18-49 and gave NBC its best non-sports performance in its 8-10 p.m. timeslot in three years.

 Also for the Peacock, Monday’s “Heroes” (3.7/9 in 18-49, 7.87million viewers overall) hit a seven-week high with its fall finale and lead-in “Chuck” (2.6/7 in 18-49, 7.66 million viewers overall) matched its highest 18-49 rating since premiere week and delivered its largest overall viewership of the season.

Fox didn’t do a whole lot early in the frame, with only a repeat “House” (2.5/7 in 18-49, 6.44 million viewers overall) and firstrun Wednesday seg of “Secret Millionaire” (2.2/7 in 18-49, 6.7 million viewers overall) showing much pop. The net got a nice boost closing out the week on Sunday, though, with a 16-minute NFL overrun that averaged an 8.8/24 in 18-49 and more than 21 million viewers overall that helped boost the numbers for a repeat of “The Simpsons” (2.8/8 in 18-49, 6.59 million viewers overall).

ABC had a tough week, with no series delivering better than a 6 share in adults 18-49. The net was held down by weak performing firstrun fare such as “Eli Stone” (1.6/4 in 18-49, 5.15 million viewers overall), “Pushing Daisies” (1.6/5 in 18-49, 4.67 million viewers overall) and “Dirty Sexy Money” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 5.13 million viewers overall) — each of which is soon set to exit the Alphabet’s schedule.

MyNetwork tied CW for the week with a 0.6/2 in 18-49, with the former drawing its largest overall program audience to date for “WWE Friday Night Smackdown” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 3.87 million viewers overall).

ESPN led the cable nets with its “Monday Night Football” contest between the Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns (4.0/10 in 18-49, 9.88 million viewers overall). The No. 2 cable program of the week was also an NFL game: Saturday’s Baltimore Ravens-Dallas Cowboys game, which drew 5.76 million viewers.

Weekly 18-49 averages: CBS, 2.7 rating/8 share(up 17% vs. the same week a year ago); NBC, 2.4/6 (up 4%); Fox, 2.1/6 (up 11%); ABC, 1.6/5 (down 6%).

Weekly total-viewer averages: CBS, 11.20 million (up 30%); NBC, 7.51 million (even); Fox, 6.09 million (up 8%); ABC, 5.10 million (down 13%).

Season 18-49 averages: CBS, 3.3/9 (down 3%); ABC, 3.1/8 (down 14%); NBC, 3.0/8 (down 9%); Fox, 2.9/8 (down 9%).

Season total-viewer averages: 12.02 million (up 1%); ABC, 9.85 million (down 9%); NBC, 7.99 million (down 9%); Fox, 7.84 million (down 9%).


        Week’s Top Shows in 18-49:

        1)    Sunday Night Football (NBC)                6.8/18

        2)    Two and a Half Men (CBS)                    5.6/13

        3)    Biggest Loser (NBC)                            4.6/12

        3)    How I Met Your Mother (CBS)               4.6/11

        5)    The Mentalist (CBS)                             4.2/11

        6)    The Big Bang Theory (CBS)                  4.1/11

        7)    NCIS (CBS)                                        4.0/11

        8)    Criminal Minds (CBS)                          3.9/11

        8)    CSI: Miami (CBS)                                3.9/10

        10)   The OT (Fox)                                      3.7/11

        10)   Heroes (NBC)                                     3.7/09 


        Week’s Top Shows in Total Viewers (in millions):

        1)    NCIS (CBS)                                    19.94

        2)    The Mentalist (CBS)                        19.32

        3)    Sunday Night Football (NBC)            18.86

        4)    Two and a Half Men (CBS)                17.92

        5)    Criminal Minds (CBS)                       15.60

        6)    CSI: Miami (CBS)                            14.56

        7)    Without a Trace (CBS)                     14.48

        8)    CSI: NY (CBS)                                13.38

        9)    60 Minutes (CBS)                            13.13

        10)  CSI (CBS)                                       12.68


        Top Cable Networks in 18-49                 Rating/Share

        1)    USA                                                1.1/3   

        2)    ESPN                                              1.1/3

        3)    TBS                                                 0.9/2

        4)    ABC Family                                      0.8/2   

        5)    FX                                                    0.7/2   


        Top Cable Networks in Total Viewers (in millions)

        1)    ESPN                                              2.90

        1)    USA                                                2.90

        3)    ABC Family                                     2.32

        4)    Lifetime                                           2.12

        5)    Fox News                                        2.06

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