CBS wins Wednesday ratings race

Fox nabs solid start with 'Secret Millionaire'

The unlikely specials combo of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and the “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show” lifted CBS to victory on Wednesday, while Fox received a nice ratings gift of its own from the new “Secret Millionaire.”

According to estimates from Nielsen, CBS opened the night a winner with “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (4.2 rating/12 share in adults 18-49, 11.82 million viewers overall), which was down vs. last year, and closed the evening well with “The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show” (3.6/10, 8.68m), which shot up sharply vs. its performance on a Tuesday a year ago and was especially strong in adults 18-34 (4.3/12).

In between, though, the first “Grammy Nominations Concert Live” settled for a 2.4/6 in 18-49 and 6.99 million viewers overall. Spec, which featured performances from acts including Celine Dion, the Foo Fighters and Taylor Swift, repped the first time that nominations for one of the major kudocasts were announced in primetime.

Fox, meanwhile, has reason to be pleased with the launch of limited-run series “Secret Millionaire,” which aired back-to-back segs. After it opened with a second-place demo finish to “Rudolph” at 8 o’clock (2.3/7 in 18-49, 6.67m), “Millionaire” picked up steam to win the 9 o’clock hour with the net’s best nonsports showing in the slot this season (3.0/8, 11.31m).

Show, based on an RDF format that’s a big hit on Channel 4 in the U.K., will air one episode apiece on both Wednesday and Thursday the next two weeks.

At NBC, “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 10.32m) was up 10% year to year despite head-to-head competition from “Rudolph” on CBS. And from 9 to 11 p.m., the net’s “Life” (2.4/6, 8.15m) and “Law and Order” (3.0/8, 11.31m) hit season highs, thriving without their usual crime-drama competition from CBS’ “Criminal Minds” and “CSI: NY.”

ABC ran fourth with its regular lineup of “Pushing Daisies” (1.6/4 in 18-49, 4.87m), “Private Practice” (2.5/7, 7.78m) and “Dirty Sexy Money” (1.7/5, 5.64m). The strongest of the three, “Private Practice,” is packing its bags and moving to Thursdays at 10 behind “Grey’s Anatomy” beginning next week.

Of note in cable was a season-high score for Bravo’s “Top Chef” at 10 o’clock (1.5/4 in 18-49, 2.85m), while TBS comedy “House of Payne” returned to deliver strong results in the same hour (1.5/4, 3.31m at 10 p.m. and 1.6/4, 3.52m at 10:30 p.m.).

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