Big numbers for 'Big Bang Theory,' 'Mother'

Even before “American Idol” kicked off Tuesday night, Fox scored a ratings bounty last week courtesy of postseason pigskin action.

The BCS championship game in college football led the way, but another bowl contest and a Saturday night NFL playoff game scored big despite a lopsided result. They were the top three programs for the week in the 18-49 demo, as Fox delivered the highest-rated frame for any network this season.

The atypical week also included two kudocasts — the People’s Choice Awards on CBS and the Golden Globes on NBC — that bounced back from their writers’ strike-induced record lows of a year ago. Still, both tumbled from their 2007 levels.

Overall, according to national estimates from Nielsen that include same-night DVR playback, Fox led in adults 18-49 with a 5.0 rating/13 share, followed by CBS (3.1/8), ABC (2.7/7), NBC (2.6/7), Univision (1.4/3) and USA (1.1/3).

Fox was also the top dog in adults 25-54 (5.6/13), adults 18-34 (4.3/13) and total viewers (14.2 million).

For Fox, Thursday’s BCS title game between Florida and Oklahoma (9.5/25 in 18-49, 26.77m) was up 15% over last year’s LSU-Ohio State contest, and Monday’s Fiesta Bowl between Texas and Ohio State (6.0/16, 17.06m) became the top-rated non-title game in three years that the net has been carrying the big bowl contests.

The Arizona Cardinals’ surprise blowout of the Carolina Panthers in the NFL playoffs dominated Saturday (8.9/25 in 18-49, 23.78m), more than doubling the combined delivery of ABC, CBS and NBC on the night.

And on Sunday, Fox welcomed back “24,” which did well with back-to-back hours on a special night (averaging 4.3/10 in 18-49, 12.61m) despite opposing the Golden Globes.

CBS, with its Monday and Thursday lineups in repeats, was paced by more strong numbers for Tuesday dramas “NCIS” (3.8/10 in 18-49, 19.10m) and “The Mentalist” (4.0/10, 19.62m), with the latter drawing its largest overall audience to date.

The net also saw the People’s Choice Awards win its two-hour block in demos (3.0/8, 9.41m), while a huge NFL overrun (12.3/33 in 18-49, 35.24m for the final hour of Pittsburgh-San Diego) provided a lift on Sunday.

At ABC, vet “The Bachelor” (3.1/8, 8.74m) and rookie “True Beauty”(3.2/8, 7.61m) opened to solid scores Monday, while Tuesday saw mixed results: “Scrubs” looked healthy in its ABC debut (3.2/8 in 18-49, 6.68m average for two half-hours), but “Homeland Security USA” didn’t do much kicking off the night (2.3/6, 7.77m).

The net paid the price of going up against the highly anticipated BCS title game on Thursday, as “Betty” (2.4/6 in 18-49, 7.54m) and “Grey’s Anatomy” (5.2/12, 13.87m) both took a hit. Faring better relative to its season average was “Private Practice” (3.3/8, 8.98m), which aired an original seg behind “Grey’s” for the first time.

Despite a subpar result, “Grey’s” tied with the net’s “Desperate Housewives” (5.2/12, 13.79m) as the week’s top scripted program in 18-49.

NBC’s week was highlighted by the 66th annual Golden Globe Awards (4.9/12, 14.86m), which won its three-hour block but with the kudocast’s second-lowest scores since it moved to the Peacock — behind only last year’s press conference presentation.

Also, the debut of “The Biggest Loser 7″ (4.5/11 in 18-49, 11.92m) drew the best premiere-week scores for the franchise to date, leading into a season-high result for “Law and Order: SVU” (3.9/10, 10.82m).

Like ABC, NBC’s firstrun programs suffered on Thursday opposite football, especially its opening-hour comedies “My Name Is Earl” (2.1/6 in 18-49, 5.60m) and “Kath and Kim” (1.7/4, 4.13m).

CW returned with some originals, including “Gossip Girl” (1.3/3 in 18-49, 2.96m), “90210” (1.4/4, 2.80m) and decent numbers for the debut of “13: Fear Is Real” (1.1/3, 2.40m). This helped it move back ahead of MyNetwork, which was paced by record net numbers for “WWE Friday Night Smackdown” (1.3/4, 3.90m).

In cable, the winter launches for Friday dramas “Monk” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 5.25m) and “Psych” (1.3/4, 4.14m) lifted USA to a winning week, while TBS laffer “Meet the Browns” cracked the top 5 cable shows in 18-49 with its premiere (1.8/5, 3.95m).

ABC Family’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” (1.4 rating/4 in 18-49, 4.38m) returned as Monday’s No. 1 cable program among persons 12-34 and the No. 1 scripted cable show in adults 18-49, adults 18-34 and total viewers (Daily Variety, Jan. 8).

* * *

Monday of this week was a big night for CBS comedies, with “The Big Bang Theory” (4.4/11 in 18-49, 11.81m) and “How I Met Your Mother” (4.8/12, 11.76m) hitting series highs. Also, “Two and a Half Men” (5.6/13, 17.10m) matched its season high and was the night’s top program.

Though the net saw a big dropoff at 9:30 with “Worst Week” (3.2/7, 10.36m), “CSI: Miami” ruled at 10 o’clock (4.1/11, 15.83m). Overall, CBS drew its largest average Monday audience of the season (13.8 million).

Elsewhere, Fox’s “24” followed its solid Sunday preview with similar scores for its two-hour block (4.1/10 in 18-49, 12.31m), moving to the timeslot with its final half-hour. Beginning next week, “House” will lead into “24.”

In their second weeks, ABC’s “The Bachelor” (3.2/8 in 18-49, 9.06m) was up slightly while “True Beauty” (2.8/7 in 18-49, 6.46m) was down a bit but continues to outperform former slot occupant “Boston Legal” among young adults.

NBC’s own unscripted combo of “Superstars of Dance” (1.9/5 in 18-49, 7.19m) and “Momma’s Boys” (1.7/5, 4.64m) finished a limp fourth on the night, with the former dropping by about 30% from its respectable debut of the previous week.

VH1’s “Real Chance of Love” was the night’s top non-sports telecast on cable (1.9/5 in 18-49, 4.19m) and the No. 1 program on all of television during the 9 o’clock hour in women 18-34 (3.9/10).

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