Drama tops Fox's 'Fringe'

The battle of the season’s hottest new dramas continues to tilt in the favor of CBS’ “The Mentalist,” which topped Fox’s “Fringe” among young adults for the third time in their last four matchups. NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” meanwhile, was on the rise, as both it and “The Mentalist” seemed to benefit from the absence of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”

Fox won the night among young adults thanks to a winning performance at 8 o’clock from “House” (5.0 rating/13 share in adults 18-49, 12.4 million viewers overall), though it was on the low side of its range. It was followed by “Fringe” (3.7/9 in 18-49, 8.7 million viewers overall), which was up week to week but was edged out by CBS’ “The Mentalist” (3.8/9 in 18-49, 18.8 million viewers overall), which drew its largest overall audience to date. After lagging “Fringe” in the early going this season, “The Mentalist” has now moved ahead of its drama rival in 18-49, though by a narrow margin.

Also for CBS, “NCIS” (3.7/10 in 18-49, 18.5 million viewers overall) was a solid second in most key demos while easily leading its hour in total viewers. Closing out the night, “Without a Trace” dropped off from its “Mentalist” lead-in, but placed second in demos (2.5/7 in 18-49, 12.2 million viewers overall).

NBC’s “Biggest Loser” (3.4/9 in 18-49, 8.7 million viewers overall) logged its second best demo score of the season — moving to the lead in its final half-hour at 9:30 p.m. — and attracting its largest overall audience. That helped provide a lift to 10 o’clock drama “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (3.6/10 in 18-49, 10.3 million viewers overall), which easily led its time period in key demos.

ABC got a seasonal lift at 8 o’clock from the special “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” (3.1/8 in 18-49, 9.0 million viewers overall), leading in to the return of veteran half-hour “According to Jim,” which averaged a fourth-place 2.1/5 in 18-49 and 5.8 million viewers overall for a pair of episodes. The Alphabet was then well off the pace at 10 o’clock with one of the final episodes of “Eli Stone” (1.6/4 in 18-49, 4.9 million viewers overall.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 4.3/11; NBC, 3.4/9; CBS, 3.3/9; ABC, 2.2/6; Univision, 1.6/4; CW, 0.4/1.

In total viewers: CBS, 16.5 million; Fox, 10.5 million; NBC, 9.2 million; ABC, 6.6 million; Univision, 4.4 million; CW, 1.0 million.

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