×

‘Apprentice’ tops for NBC

Trump reality show opens strong

Don’t count out “The Apprentice” just yet, as a celeb version of the Donald Trump reality skein opened to potent numbers Thursday night on NBC.

The Peacock then continued its strong start to the new year with a huge Saturday courtesy of the highest-rated NFL wild-card action on the day in four years.

Looking at Thursday, a night when Fox scored with college football while ABC and CBS served up repeats, “The Celebrity Apprentice” averaged a 4.5 rating/11 share in adults 18-49 and 11.08 million viewers overall. It built on its lead-in from “Deal or No Deal” (3.7/10 in 18-49, 13.41m) by 22% in 18-49 and stood as the night’s No. 1 show in the key demo.

“Apprentice,” of course, got huge ratings in its first season, but had tapered off in subsequent seasons. Thursday’s opener was the best for the franchise since September 2005 and the best rating for any episode since the fifth-season’s finale in December 2005, the last time it aired on Thursday.

This week will provide a stiffer test for the show as it goes up against firstrun segs of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “CSI.” The latter CBS crime drama will be in repeats most weeks after that, though, while ABC — without any more original segs of “Grey’s — will go with Lost” in the hour, beginning Jan. 31.

Fox’s coverage of the Orange Bowl (Kansas vs. Virginia Tech) was the No. 2 show Thursday, averaging a 4.3/12 in 18-49 and 11.96 million viewers overall.

Meanwhile, in Thursday’s latenight action, the 11:35 p.m. shows hosted by Jay Leno on NBC and David Letterman on CBS both came back to earth after their strong returns Wednesday, but they remained well above their season averages (which included lots of repeats).

In prelim Nielsen results, “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” set the pace with 5.2 million viewers (up 20% season to date), followed by “Late Show With David Letterman” (4.7 million, up 29%). NBC’s “Conan O’Brien” (2.3 million, up 28%) won at 12:35 a.m. over CBS’ “Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson” (1.9 million, up 11%).

NBC was also hot kicking off the weekend, as the season premiere of gameshow “1 vs. 100” got off to a good start Friday (prelim 2.3/7 in 18-49, 8.6 million).

And on Saturday, the NFL wild-card game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Pittsburgh Steelers averaged a 16.7 household rating/27 share in Nielsen’s metered-market overnights — the highest rating for any primetime program since last May’s American Idol” finale on Fox.

Earlier in the day, the first wild-card game on NBC (Seattle-Washington) averaged a strong 15.4/29 in the overnights; the two-game average of 16.1 was the best for wild card Saturday in four years.

Primetime game, in which the Jags rallied for a 31-29 victory despite blowing an 18-point fourth-quarter lead, is expected to generate roughly a 10 rating in adults 18-49 while drawing well over 25 million viewers. This would make Saturday the highest-rated night for any network this season.

ABC ran second Saturday with news coverage of the New Hampshire presidential debates, which averaged a prelim 2.0/5 in 18-49 and 8.6 million viewers overall.

More TV

  • Banijay Close to Securing $2.2 Billion

    Banijay Close to Securing $2.2 Billion Deal for Endemol Shine

    Banijay Group is on the verge of sealing a deal for production and distribution powerhouse Endemol Shine, sources tell Variety. Vivendi-backed Banijay and Endemol Shine’s joint owners, Disney and Apollo, are understood to have scheduled a meeting for Thursday after talks accelerated in recent days, with Banijay now on the brink of finally closing a [...]

  • Discovery Launching Free Streaming Service Dplay

    Discovery Launching Free Streaming Service Dplay in the U.K. and Ireland

    Discovery is making a free-streaming play in the U.K. and Ireland with the launch of Dplay. The ad-supported service launches this week. It will be programmed with content from Discovery’s bouquet of free-TV channels in the U.K., which includes Quest, Food Network, and former UKTV brands Really and Home. The lineup of launch titles includes: [...]

  • Joseph Mawle

    'Lord of the Rings' Series at Amazon Casts 'Game of Thrones' Alum Joseph Mawle

    Amazon’s upcoming “Lord of the Rings” series has cast Joseph Mawle in a main role, Variety has confirmed with sources. Mawle joins previously announced cast members Will Poulter and Markella Kavenagh. Official details of Mawle’s characters are being kept under wraps, but sources say he will play a villain named Oren. Amazon declined to comment. Reps [...]

  • TV News Roundup: Jacob Tobia Joins

    TV News Roundup: Jacob Tobia Joins 'She-Ra and the Princess of Power'

    In today’s TV news roundup, “She-Ra and the Princess of Power” Season 4 adds Jacob Tobia, and The Weather Channel announces the premiere date for its climate change special with the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.  CASTING Jacob Tobia has joined Netflix‘s “She-Ra and the Princess of Power.” Voicing Double Trouble, Tobia joins Aimee Carrero, Karen Fukuhara, [...]

  • TV Ratings: 'Watchmen' Premiere Draws 1.5

    TV Ratings: 'Watchmen' Premiere Draws 1.5 Million Viewers

    Who will watch the Watchmen? Turns out 1.5 million people, that’s who. The debut of the highly anticipated HBO series delivered that many sets of eyeballs across all the premium cabler’s platforms on Sunday night. For comparison, Sunday’s premiere was up 21% in linear on last week’s “Succession” season finale, and up 20% from the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content