New Girl Ratings Super Bowl-Prince

Sunday's special episode logged the highest demo rating for any comedy since the 'Friends' finale; Fox dominates the week

Fox’s Tuesday comedy block has struggled to gain ratings traction this season, but the net couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to boost viewership for “New Girl” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” than the sizable sampling they got with their post-Super Bowl telecasts on Sunday.

Final Nielsen tallies released Tuesday for “New Girl” have lifted the special episode, which featured guest star Prince, to the top adults 18-49 rating (11.4) for any comedy telecast in 10 years — since NBC’s “Friends” signed off with a monster 25.4 rating in May 2004. This is more than six times what “New Girl” has averaged in same-night viewing on Tuesdays this season (1.8) and about 3½ times larger than its full-week, Live+7 average (3.2), according to Nielsen averages for original episodes.

The show’s previous same-night high in 18-49 came with its series premiere in September 2011 (4.8 rating/12 share); it was the hottest newcomer that fall but has cooled off since. And that’s what makes Sunday’s chance to allow millions of new (or former) viewers to sample the Zooey Deschanel comedy as it heads into an important stretch of episodes.

Starting tonight, “New Girl” will be paired in the same hour with “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” which had been airing in the 8:30 p.m. slot after “Dads” but is now getting a timeslot upgrade — behind “New Girl” at 9:30. “Brooklyn,” which won the comedy prize at last month’s Golden Globes, has been challenging “New Girl” in same-night ratings of late and will look to build off its own series highs from Sunday.

It is key for Fox to establish the 9 o’clock block the next couple of weeks (“New Girl” and “Brooklyn” air original episodes opposite the Olympics next Tuesday) because its biggest test comes after the Sochi Games, when NBC will air two new comedies in the same hour. The Peacock hasn’t had much luck with new comedies in recent years, but having “The Voice” as a lead-in will pretty much guarantee that “About a Boy” and “Growing Up Fisher” will perform well (think last year’s “Go On”) and could be tough to beat.

“New Girl,” whose lead-in will be “Glee” starting later this month, will also continue to go head-to-head with ABC’s rookie half-hour “The Goldbergs,” which has beaten the Fox series in same-night 18-49 on two occasions.

So, while a three-network showdown benefits none of these comedies, Fox has to feel that it has given its Tuesday half-hours their best possible shot to succeed.

Sunday’s special post-Super Bowl telecasts of “New Girl” (11.4/27 in 18-49, 26.30 million viewers overall) and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”  (6.9/18 in 18-49, 15.06 million) were easily the top-rated entertainment telecasts of last week, a frame dominated by Fox.

The net’s 10.5 rating/27 share in adults 18-49 was about six times the score of runner-up CBS (1.7/5), which was followed by NBC (1.3/3) and ABC and Univision (both 1.2/3). That big haul helped Fox vault to No. 1 for the season in adults 18-49, edging ahead of NBC, which will get its own sports boost courtesy of the Winter Olympics.

In total viewers, Fox’s 30 million was nearly four times the audience of second-place CBS (7.7 million).

The Super Bowl averaged a 39.3 rating/77 share in adults 18-49 and 112.19 million viewers overall — the largest audience for any telecast in U.S. television history and the fifth straight year that football’s biggest game has drawn more than 105 million.

Fox also had the top nightly average for entertainment programming with Fox’s “American Idol” on Wednesday (3.8/10 in 18-49, 12.73 million viewers overall).

Not so hot was the second week of new Thursday drama “Rake” (1.3/4 in 18-49, 5.24m), which held less than half of its “Idol” lead-in. And comedy “Enlisted” isn’t doing much on Friday (0.8/3 in 18-49, 2.79 million).

CBS had some good series perfs during the week, including on Friday with the largest overall audiences since 2012 for “Hawaii Five-0″ (11.24 million) and since 2011 for “Blue Bloods” (12.93 million). Throw in a winning perf by “Undercover Boss,” and the Eye posted its best demos on a Friday this season and its largest overall audience on the night since 2008.

The 200th episode of “How I Met Your Mother” (3.8/11 in 18-49, 10.81 million viewers overall) surged to the show’s best adults 18-34 rating (3.8/11) in two years and its largest overall audience since December 2011 — and it helped propel the net’s other comedies on the night to season highs in total viewers. And on Thursday, “Elementary” drew its largest audience since April (10.34 million).

NBC’s standout was once again Monday rookie “The Blacklist” (2.5/7 in 18-49, 10.17 million), which then went on to set another all-time record for biggest three-day DVR lift (gaining 5.6 million to stand at 15.8 million). The James Spader drama has now accounted for the eight biggest L+3 lifts to date.

And in final L+7 data for its Jan. 13 episode (its first without a “The Voice” lead-in), “The Blacklist” gained 76% in 18-49 (2.54 to 4.47) — its second biggest percentage increase to date. This allowed it to leapfrog CBS’ “NCIS” as that week’s No. 1 regularly scheduled drama in 18-49.

ABC was led by Monday’s “The Bachelor” (2.5/7 in 18-49, 8.61 million viewers overall) and its winning Friday tandem of “Shark Tank” (2.1/7 in 18-49, 7.49 million viewers overall) and “20/20″ (1.7/5 in 18-49, 5.37 million viewers overall).

Of note at CW, “Supernatural” continued its strong season, drawing its largest same-night audience (2.76 million) in more than three years opposite coverage of the State of the Union address on the major networks. It matched its season high in 18-49 hit a five-year high in teens (1.6/6).

Cable highlights included a strong season finale for FX’s “American Horror Story: Coven” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 4.24 million viewers overall) and gains for the same night’s A&E pair of “Duck Dynasty” (2.9/8 in 18-49, 7.49 million viewers overall) and “Wahlburgers” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 4.02 million viewers overall).

Fox News was the most-watched cable network for the week (2.3 million), boosted by Tuesday’s coverage of the State of the Union address. It edged out USA (2.2 million) and ESPN (2.1 million).

WEEKLY NETWORK AVERAGES

Adults 18-49 (rating/share)

Fox            10.5/27
CBS              1.5/4
NBC             1.3/3
ABC             1.2/3
UNI             1.2/3
CW              0.7/2
TEL             0.6/2

Total Viewers

Fox            30.14 million
CBS             7.81 million
NBC            4.75 million
ABC            4.56 million
UNI            2.94 million
CW              1.74 million
TEL             1.42 million

WEEK’S TOP PRIMETIME PROGRAMS
(Live plus same-day)

Adults 18-49
1.   Super Bowl XLVIII: Seattle vs. Denver (Fox), 39.3/77
2.  Super Bowl Post-Game (Fox), 25.5/53
3.  New Girl-Sunday (Fox), 11.4/27
4.  Brooklyn Nine Nine-Sunday (Fox), 6.9/18
5.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 5.2/16
6.  How I Met Your Mother (CBS), 3.8/11
6.  American Idol-Wednesday (Fox), 3.8/10
8.  American Idol-Thursday (Fox), 3.2/9
9.  2 Broke Girls (CBS), 3.0/8
10.  Duck Dynasty (A&E), 2.9/8
11.  The Millers (CBS), 2.6/8
11.  Mike & Molly (CBS), 2.6/7
13.  The Bachelor (ABC), 2.5/7
13.  Blacklist (NBC), 2.5/7
15.  Mom (CBS), 2.4/6
16.  American Horror Story (FX), 2.2/6
17.  Shark Tank (ABC), 2.1/6
18.  The Following (Fox), 2.0/5
18.  Law & Order: SVU (NBC), 2.0/5
18.  Two and a Half Men (CBS), 2.0/5

Total Viewers (in millions)
1.   Super Bowl XLVIII: Seattle vs. Denver (Fox), 112.19
2.  Super Bowl Post-Game (Fox), 65.78
3.  New Girl-Sunday (Fox), 26.30
4.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 19.05
4.  Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox), 15.06
6.  Blue Bloods (CBS), 12.93
7.  American Idol-Wednesday (Fox), 12.73
8.  NCIS-r (CBS), 11.74
9.  The Millers (CBS), 11.50
10.  American Idol-Thursday (Fox), 11.42
11.  Hawaii Five-0 (CBS), 11.24
12.  How I Met Your Mother (CBS), 10.81
13.  Mike & Molly (CBS), 10.76
14.  Elementary (CBS), 10.34
15.  The Blacklist (NBC), 10.17
16.  2 Broke Girls (CBS), 10.05
17.  Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials (CBS), 9.64
18.  Mom (CBS), 9.58
19.  Undercover Boss (CBS), 9.21
20.  Two and a Half Men (CBS), 8.86

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