Comedy combo of 'Men,' 'Bang' soar in ratings

A record-breaking Super Bowl lifted CBS to a dominant weekly victory and has all but clinched another season crown for the Eye in key rating categories.

Although Fox still leads in adults 18-49 and figures to cruise to victory down the stretch with “American Idol,” CBS appears have locked up the season win in both adults 25-54 and total viewers.

One week after the Grammy Awards capped a big frame for the Eye, the Super Bowl drove CBS to one of its best weeks in years.

Final Nielsen numbers for the New Orleans Saints’ victory over the Indianapolis Colts show the game averaging a 38.6 rating/75 share in adults 18-49 and 106.48 million viewers overall. The demo score was more than four times what Fox’s “American Idol” delivered with its highest-rated episode of last week, and the overall audience was the largest on record for a telecast, edging past the series finale of “MASH” on CBS in 1983 (Daily Variety, Feb. 9).

CBS reaped immediate rewards for its promotions during the Super Bowl when its “Power Hour” comedy block of “Two and a Half Men” and “The Big Bang Theory” surged to season highs one night later.

Overall for the week of Feb. 1-7, CBS led in adults 18-49 with an 8.5 rating/22 share, topping the combined deliveries of rivals Fox (3.2/8), ABC (2.5/7) and NBC (1.5/4). It achieved this feat in other categories as well, ranging from persons 12-34 (8.0/22) to adults 25-54 (9.5/23) and total viewers (26.2 million).

This was the best week in 18-49 for CBS since 2004 and its largest overall audience since the days of the Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding scandal at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics.

CBS accounted for nine of the top 20 programs in 18-49, including its post-Super Bowl preem of reality show “Undercover Boss” (16.2/38 in 18-49, 38.65m), four of its five Monday programs — led by “The Big Bang Theory” (5.4/13, 15.51m) — and Tuesday titan “NCIS” (4.3/11, 19.23m).

Wednesday also clicked with spec “Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials” (2.9/9, 10.99m) and “Criminal Minds” (3.8/10, 14.75m), which like “NCIS” finished in the week’s top 20 despite facing Fox’s “Idol.”

The music megahit, meanwhile, delivered the top ratings for any non-Sunday program with its hours on Tuesday (9.0/23 in 18-49, 24.71m) and Wednesday (7.8/21, 21.00m). Net also was above average on Thursday with the winter finales of “Bones” (3.3/10 in 18-49, 12.37m) and “Fringe” (2.6/7, 7.39m).

Not as impressive was Wednesday’s timeslot debut of drama “Human Target” (2.4/7, 7.80m), which placed third leading into “Idol.”

ABC welcomed the return of “Lost,” which kicked off its final season Tuesday as the night’s No. 1 scripted program in most demos (5.5/14 in 18-49, 12.09m). The “Lost” premiere also attracted 580,000 starts on ABC.com, according to internal ABC data, roughly a third bigger than last year’s opener.

That momentum carried over to Wednesday, where “The Middle” hit a high (2.7/8, 7.32m), leading into “Modern Family” (3.9/11, 9.19m), which held up nicely opposite “Idol.”

“The Deep End” dropped off noticeably in its third airing Thursday (1.3/4 in 18-49, 5.08m), and was followed by a season low for “Grey’s Anatomy” (4.5/12, 12.55m), which still led the 9 p.m. hour in demos. “Deep End” hasn’t attracted as many young adults as ABC had hoped, with its median age at a surprisingly high 55 years last week.

NBC claimed only two top 20 programs (“The Office” at No. 15 and “The Biggest Loser” at No. 18) and ran fourth among the Big Four in 18-49 every night of the week. “The Jay Leno Show” averaged a mere 1.2/3 in 18-49 for its four segs.

One bright spot was an improved showing for Thursday comedies “Community” (2.3/7 in 18-49, 5.23m) and “Parks and Recreation” (2.3/7, 4.88m), although CBS’ “Survivor” returns to the timeslot this week.

At CW, “The Vampire Diaries” (1.9/5 in 18-49, 3.99m) outperformed its previous three original episodes and won its hour among femmes 12-34 (3.1/10). Also, Friday’s “Smallville” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 2.77m) matched or set season highs in various categories with a two-hour episode.

USA led the cable nets thanks mostly to “WWE Raw” (2.1/6 in 18-49, 5.56m) and “Burn Notice” (1.7/5, 4.25m). Latter drama is thriving on Thursday opposite femme-fueled broadcast dramas “Private Practice” and “The Mentalist,” winning its hour in men 18-34 (2.1/7).

Also clicking in demos were “Pawn Stars” on History (1.6/4 in 18-49, 4.12m) and MTV spec “Teen Mom: Check Up With Dr. Drew” (1.7/4, 3.11m).

Fox News remained hot, ranking seventh in primetime among cablers in adults 25-54 (581,000) and second to USA in total viewers (2.4 million). “The O’Reilly Factor,” featuring Jon Stewart as a guest, topped 4 million viewers on both Wednesday and Thursday.

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On Monday of this week, CBS achieved season highs in all categories behind “Two and a Half Men” (5.7/14 in 18-49, 17.66m), the night’s No. 1 show in total viewers, and “The Big Bang Theory” (6.0/14, 16.26m), tops in demos. This represents the best-ever demo perf for the third-year “Big Bang” and the best for “Men” since February 2007, the last time it aired the night after the Super Bowl.

CBS also was above average with “How I Met Your Mother” (3.8/10 in 18-49, 10.00m), “Accidentally on Purpose” (3.3/8, 9.10m) and “CSI: Miami” (3.9/11, 13.53m).

Also benefiting from Super Bowl promotion was “Late Show With David Letterman,” which earned a 4.5 household rating/11 share in the overnights, its second best score of the season (behind only President Obama’s visit). Sandra Bullock and Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees were guests.

At ABC, “The Bachelor” (4.1/10, 12.35m) matched its season-high demo score of the previous week while once again hitting a season high in total viewers for a fifth straight week. Throw in another solid outing from “Castle” (2.5/7, 9.54m), and ABC matched its season-high delivery in young adults.

NBC’s “Heroes” failed to see any growth for its season finale (2.0/5, 4.43m).

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