College football, season highs for vets lead the way

The biggest college football game in five years and the across-the-board strength of its entertainment lineup lifted CBS atop the primetime ratings pack last week.

Key to the Eye’s victory were strong perfs by some of its core vets, as Monday’s “Two and a Half Men,” Tuesday’s “NCIS,” Thursday’s “The Big Bang Theory” and Friday’s “Blue Bloods” racked up the best demo scores for any series on their respective nights. And Wednesday leadoff hitter “Survivor” continues to thrive in its 23rd edition, joining “Big Bang” and “Blue Bloods” in hitting season highs last week.

“Blue Bloods” in particular was a standout, as the Tom Selleck-fronted family cop drama logged its best regular 18-49 score (2.1 rating/6 share) since its series premiere in September 2010, and won its hour by 5 shares in adults 25-54. And in total viewers, its 12.73 million was a larger crowd than tuned in for all but one of last week’s scripted series airing on ABC, NBC and Fox.

Overall for the week of Oct. 31-Nov. 6, Nielsen estimates that CBS finished on top among adults 18-49 with a 3.4 rating/9 share, followed by Fox (3.0/8), NBC (2.4/7), ABC (2.2/6), Univision (1.4/4) and ESPN (1.0/3). The Eye also lashed the competition in both adults 5-54 (4.4/11) and total viewers (13 million).

For the season, CBS is tied with Fox for the 18-49 lead and is the outright leader in 25-54 and total viewers. Fox remains the biggest gainer, up 15% or more in all categories.

CBS padded its average last week with Saturday’s special primetime college football game between Southeastern Conference rivals LSU and Alabama. The matchup between the country’s top-rated teams averaged a huge 7.2/21 in adults 18-49 and 20.01 million viewers overall — the largest aud for a regular-season college game since Michigan and Ohio State drew 21 million on ABC in 2006.

The Eye’s hottest new show is Monday half-hour “2 Broke Girls” (4.3/12, 10.97m), which again last week served as a good bridge between “How I Met Your Mother” (4.2/13, 10.49m) and “Two and a Half Men” (4.7/12, 13.90m).

“NCIS” was Tuesday’s No. 1 show (3.9/11, 19.71m), and one night later “Survivor” (3.6/10 in 18-49, 11.95m) posted its best scores since last December. “The Big Bang Theory” achieved its highest regular Thursday numbers since moving to the night 14 months ago (5.4/16, 15.98m), and lead-out “Rules of Engagement” (3.7/10, 11.81m) posted its best Thursday ratings to date.

Elsewhere last week, Fox was paced by Wednesday’s winning “The X Factor” (4.0/11, 11.76m), and on Thursday the “X Factor” results show (3.7/11, 11.64m) led into good scores for the season preem of “Bones” (3.3/8, 10.00m).The net’s Tuesday hits “Glee” (3.0/8, 7.47m) and “New Girl” (3.6/9, 7.42m) returned from a three-week break with season lows, though the latter still led its timeslot in 18-49.

ABC had another great Wednesday, with “Modern Family” (5.7/15, 13.37m) the week’s No. 1 scripted show in demos and 10 p.m. rookie drama “Revenge” (3.0/8, 8.58m) posting best-since-premiere scores and leading its hour in 18-49.

Also continuing to impress is Sunday drama “Once Upon a Time” (3.8/9, 11.45m), which retained nearly all of its prior audience in week three, and Thursday vet “Grey’s Anatomy” (3.6/9, 9.52m) was that night’s No. 1 drama in demos.

NBC was led on the series side by Thursday comedy “The Office” (3.2/8, 6.15m), while Friday drama “Grimm” (1.8/6, 6.01m) was down 14% from its potent premiere but again was the top entertainment series in its hour among adults 18-49. Its top show remains “Sunday Night Football” (8.8/22 in 18-49, 22.12m), as last week’s Baltimore-Pittsburgh matchup was the week’s No. 1 primetime program.

Not so hot was the Monday debut of newsmag “Rock Center” (1.0/3, 4.14m).

In cable, the top entertainment series among adults 18-49 were AMC’s “The Walking Dead” (3.4/8, 6.29m), FX’s “Sons of Anarchy” (1.9/5, 3.63m), Comedy Central’s “Tosh.0″ (1.9/5, 3.25m) and AMC’s new “Hell on Wheels” (1.9/5, 4.36m).

Other standouts included Discovery’s “Gold Rush” (1.6/5 in 18-49, 3.85m), which led all of television for its Friday 9 p.m. hour in adults 18-34 (1.5/5) and key male demos; Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Atlanta” had a good showing Sunday (1.5/4, 2.90m); and USA’s original movie “John Sandford’s Certain Prey,” starring Mark Harmon, racked up 5.13 million viewers Sunday.

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