CBS tops networks with finale, laffers

A nice boost from football and a strong finish for “The Amazing Race” helped CBS cross the finish line a winner last week.

Most of the week’s big cable perfs came on Tuesday, where Discovery’s “American Chopper Live: The Build Off” (2.4/6 in 18-49, 4.77m) was TV’s the No. 1 program of the night among men 18-49 (3.3/9) and 25-54 (3.6/9).

The Eye, which also landed five of its comedies among the frame’s top 10 shows in young adults, prevailed in all key categories for the week. It won five nights in demos as well as total viewers.

And at the roughly one-third mark of the season (through 12 weeks), CBS (up 3% vs. last year) is tied with Fox (up 16%) for the lead in adults 18-49, according to Nielsen. The Eye also has it in adults 25-54 and total viewers, with victory in the latter pretty much locked up already.

Looking at the week of Dec. 5-11, CBS averaged a 2.7/7 in 18-49, followed by NBC (2.4/7), Fox (2.1/6), ABC (1.7/5) and Univision (1.4/4). The Eye also led over runner-up NBC by 25% in adults 25-54 (3.5 to 2.8) and by more than 40% in total viewers (10.5 million vs. 7.5 million).

Comedies led the way, including Monday anchor “Two and a Half Men” (5.1/13, 15.18m), which tied with ABC’s “Modern Family” (5.1/12, 12.20m) as the week’s No. 1 scripted program in 18-49. Also repped in the top 10 were the net’s “The Big Bang Theory” on Thursday (4.6/14, 14.02m) and Monday’s “2 Broke Girls” (4.6/12, 12.75m), “How I Met Your Mother” (4.5/12, 11.51m) and “Mike & Molly” (4.2/10, 12.66m).

Other scripted timeslot winners included dramas “Hawaii Five-0″ (3.0/8, 11.01m), “Person of Interest” (2.8/7, 12.66m) and “The Mentalist” (2.7/7, 13.04m).

And on the reality front, the net continues to get great mileage out of its veteran shows. “The Amazing Race” wrapped its 19th edition with season highs (3.3/7, 11.72m), and “Survivor” warmed up for the conclusion of its 23rd edition this Sunday with good numbers on Wednesday (3.3/9, 11.59m).

NBC once again claimed the week’s top primetime telecast in “Sunday Night Football” (9.4/23, 24.52m), as the matchup between the popular New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys delivered the franchise’s best numbers since Sept. 18 (the night before the start of the television season).

Net again did little on Monday with “The Sing Off” (1.1/3, 4.18m) and “Rock Center” (0.9/2, 3.42m), and its Thursday comedy lineup — aside from “The Office” (2.9/8, 5.79m) — is struggling.

A special Thursday episode of rookie Friday drama “Grimm” didn’t do much (1.6/4, 4.09m), but the show’s audience followed it the next night, where it led its hour among young adults (1.6/5, 5.43m).

At Fox, “The X Factor” (3.4/9, 10.70m on Wednesday and 2.9/8, 9.84m on Thursday) remains solid but unspectacular two weeks from its finale.

Best results came from Tuesday’s “New Girl” (3.4/9, 6.79m) and “Glee” (3.0/8, 7.11m) and Sunday’s “Family Guy” (3.1/7, 6.10m) and “The Simpsons” (3.0/7, 6.43m). And Monday’s “American Country Awards” drew so-so numbers (2.0/5, 7.47m) but was up 33% in 18-49 vs. last year’s inaugural edition.ABC was paced by “Modern Family” and Sunday drama “Once Upon a Time” (2.9/7 in 18-49, 8.92m), which has seen a dropoff in recent weeks. Net’s Tuesday comedies went in different directions: Leadoff hitter “Last Man Standing” (2.7/8, 8.79m) improved but lead-out “Man Up” hit a low (1.6/4, 4.82m) and was then pulled from the lineup.

Alphabet was aided Saturday by its telecast of the Republican Presidential Debate in Iowa, whose 7.63 million viewers makes it the most watched of the 2012 campaign season and was a bit above ABC’s comparable debate from New Hampshire in January 2008 (7.36 million).

“Chopper” was followed by the series preem of “Moonshiners” (1.3/4 in 18-49, 2.83m), which became the top-rated series launch to date for Discovery.

At A&E, “Storage Wars: Texas” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 4.06m) got off to the best start for any series in A&E history. Show, which follows teams of bidders on their quest for auction gold, followed an episode of the original “Storage Wars” (2.1/6, 4.79m).

MTV’s “Teen Mom 2″ kicked off its season in a big way (2.4/7 in 18-49, 4.15m) — ruling as the top cable program of the night in women 18-49 (3.7/10) and the No. 1 show on television among women 18-34 (6.0/18). It was up about 20% over the previous “Teen Mom 2″ premiere in January, and the best start in franchise history.

And at FX, “Sons of Anarchy” (2.1/6 in 18-49, 4.24m) beat all of television’s scripted competition in the 10 o’clock hour among 18-49ers.

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