Net easily wins week; other sitcoms open or return well

Tebow Time came to an inglorious end Saturday night on CBS, but the Eye still racked up strong numbers for its second-round NFL playoff game en route to another weekly ratings victory.

One week after the Tim Tebow-led Denver Broncos upset the Pittsburgh Steelers before the largest audience ever to see the opening round of the postseason (42.4 million), the Broncos got crushed by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on Saturday before a mortal-sized, second-round aud of 34.2 million. While the game would have drawn a much bigger aud had it been closer, CBS wasn’t too upset.

The game still drew the best numbers for a primetime second-round contest in 11 years and combined with strong showings by “NCIS,” “Person of Interest” and new half-hour “Rob,” among others, to put CBS on top.

Actually, it was another big week for comedy in general. Besides “Rob,” Fox launched “Napoleon Dynamite” well, while NBC had to be pleased with the bow of “Are You There, Chelsea?” And over at BET, “The Game” returned as the week’s top-rated scripted cable series.Overall for the Jan. 9-15 frame, CBS led comfortably in adults 18-49 with a 3.7 Nielsen rating/10 share, followed by Fox (3.2/8), ABC (2.2/6), NBC (2.0/5), ESPN (1.8/5) and Univision (1.4/4). CBS led by even larger margins in adults 25-54 (4.7/11 to 3.6/8 for Fox) and total viewers (13.9 million to 8.7 million for Fox).

The week’s top two primetime programs were postseason football games: Saturday’s Patriots-Broncos game on CBS (12.5/33 in 18-49, 34.16m) and Monday’s BCS Championship college game between Alabama and LSU on ESPN (8.7/20, 24.21m).

Fox actually aired the week’s two most-watched telecasts with late-afternoon NFL games on Sunday between the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers (45.1 million) and Saturday between the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints (35.6 million); the former is a record for the league’s Divisional Playoff round.

In addition to winning Saturday with football, the Eye also rolled on Tuesday — led by “NCIS” (4.1/11, 21.03m) — and Thursday, where “The Big Bang Theory” (5.3/15 in 18-49, 16.13m) notched its largest aud to date on the night. “Big Bang” led into Rob Schneider comedy “Rob” (4.1/11, 13.47m), which fared better than any other regular show yet to air behind “Big Bang” on Thursday, and 9 p.m. rookie drama “Person of Interest” followed with highs (3.2/8, 14.86m).

At Fox, an NFL overrun gave the net a boost, with the Sunday game funneling a huge aud into “The Simpsons” (5.4/13, 11.48m), which edged out “Big Bang” as the week’s top series in 18-49. The vet led into “Napoleon Dynamite” (4.4/10, 8.74m), which had the third best demo score for a comedy preem this season.

ABC was paced by “Modern Family” (5.1/13, 12.12m), “Grey’s Anatomy” (3.8/10, 10.71m) and “Once Upon a Time” (3.3/8, 9.83m) but also got a boost on Saturday from improved numbers for the “Miss America Pageant” (1.8/5, 6.74m). Not so hot was the second and, ultimately, final episode of “Work It” on Tuesday (1.5/4, 4.90m).

NBC’s revamped Thursday lineup struggled, with “30 Rock” returning low in its new 8 p.m. timeslot (1.8/5, 4.47m) and “Up All Night” not doing much on its new night (2.0/5, 4.24m). And at 10, the timeslot debut of “The Firm” (1.0/3, 4.23m) did about what “Prime Suspect” was averaging there before it was canceled.

There was better news on Wednesday, where relocated “Whitney” did OK at 8 (2.0/6 in 18-49, 5.79m), and “Are You There, Chelsea?” built on that in its bow at 8:30 (2.3/6, 6.18m) — the net’s best showing in the timeslot this season.

On Sunday, “The 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards” (5.0/12, 16.85m) was down slightly from last year but won its final two hours.

In cable, BET’s “The Game” kicked off its fifth season (and second on the cabler) Tuesday with strong numbers (2.8/7 in 18-49, 5.29m), cracking the week’s top 25 in 18-49; among cable series, only MTV’s “Jersey Shore” fared better for the week (3.8/10, 6.49m).

Discovery’s “Gold Rush” racked up some of its best scores ever Friday (2.2/6 in 18-49, 5.48m), standing as the night’s No. 1 show — broadcast or cable — in 18-49, men 18-49 (2.9/9) and men 25-54 (3.4/8).

A&E introduced new series “Shipping Wars” on Tuesday (1.3/3 in 18-49, 3 million), preceding the net’s top-rated “Storage Wars” (2.1/5, 4.82m), which tied with CBS’ “Unforgettable” as the 18-49 leader in the 10 o’clock hour.

Lifetime’s docu-series “Dance Moms” returned Tuesday (1.0/3, 2.51m) with huge gains over last year’s series preem and a spry median age of 37; net announced a Miami-based spinoff earlier this week.

Also returning well were History’s Wednesday tandem of “Only in America With Larry the Cable Guy” (0.9/2, 2.67m) and “American Restoration” (0.9/2, 2.89m), which lifted the net to No. 1 on cable for the night in adults 25-54.

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