NBC scores too with Betty White specials; CBS tops

Fox drama “Alcatraz” was solid as a rock in its premiere Monday, ranking second in demos to CBS and on par with Fox’s other new and returning drama bows this season. And among all new dramas this season, only ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” opened to a higher young-adult rating.

According to prelim Nielsens, the Bad Robot/Warner Bros. prison drama averaged a 3.3 rating/8 share in adults 18-49 and 10 million viewers overall. It held mostly steady throughout, earning either a 3.2 or 3.3 demo rating in all four half-hours.

“Alcatraz” opened with the same 8 share in 18-49 as the net’s returning “House” (3.9 rating) and “Bones” (3.3) in the fall, and its numbers were comparable to those for the two-hour launch of “Terra Nova” in late September (3.1/8 in 18-49, 9.2 million) — though the dinosaur drama had to compete with “Monday Night Football,” “Dancing With the Stars” and the second week of CBS’ rebooted “Two and a Half Men.”

Perf of “Alcatraz,” whose exec producers include J.J. Abrams, was a big improvement over the net’s midseason Monday drama premiere of last January, “The Chicago Code” (2.4 in 18-49), and no Fox drama has opened with a higher 18-49 rating than “Alcatraz” since “Lie to Me” about three years ago. “Alcatraz” ties ABC’s “Revenge” for the season’s No. 2 drama premiere in 18-49, behind the Alphabet’s “Once Upon a Time” (4.0).

If there was a surprise in the preem scores for “Alcatraz,” it was that the show didn’t skew a bit more male given its auspices, the female skew of its broadcast competition and the lack of pro or college football competish. Roughly 51% of its 18-49 aud was male, with the show placing second to the CBS comedy block in men 18-49 (3.3 vs. 4.0) and men 18-34 (2.8 vs. 3.0).

Beginning next week, “Alcatraz” will air at 9 p.m., following “House.”

At NBC on Monday, the 90-minute special “Betty White’s 90th Birthday: A Tribute to America’s Golden Girl” averaged a prelim 2.7 rating/7 share in adults 18-49 and 13.9 million viewers overall, placing third in demos and first in total viewers; in fact, it was the most-watched program on the night and provided the Peacock with its largest audience from 8 to 9:30 p.m. on a Monday (excluding the Olympics) since February 2008. That audience mostly stuck around at 9:30 p.m. for the preview episode of hidden-camera series “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers” (prelim 2.6/6 in 18-49, 12.2 million).

CBS won all six of the night’s half-hours in 18-49 as “How I Met Your Mother” (prelim 4.4/11, 10.1 million) and “2 Broke Girls” (prelim 4.5/11, 11.3 million) impressed in kicking off the night, and “Two and a Half Men” drew the night’s best series scores (prelim 4.6/10, 12.9 million).

• Due to the Monday holiday, the weekly primetime ratings recap and charts for Jan. 9-15 will appear in Thursday’s paper.

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