The specter of Fox’s “American Idol” looms large in coming weeks, but NBC is off to the strongest start in the new year thanks to potent reality performers.
“The Biggest Loser: Couples,” “Celebrity Apprentice” and “American Gladiators” all debuted well, teaming with Saturday’s huge NFL playoff game to lift NBC to an easy primetime ratings victory. The Peacock has now won three straight frames in adults 18-49 for the first time since 2004.
Fox’s coverage of college football’s Bowl Championship Series, meanwhile, was down vs. last year but kept the net a solid No. 2. ABC hung in there thanks to some original series, but CBS struggled without much firstrun fare.
Overall for the week ended Sunday, Nielsen estimates that NBC averaged a 4.2 rating/11 share in adults 18-49, followed by Fox (3.2/9), ABC (2.7/7), CBS (2.3/6), Univision (1.3/4) and USA (0.9/3). Margin of victory for NBC is the largest for any net this season.
Among the younger broadcasters, CW (0.7/2) barely held off MyNetwork (0.6/2), as the latter has been picking up a bit of steam.
The Peacock was so dominant for the week in 18-49 — logging its second-highest rating in a non-Olympics week in three years — that it also led in adults 25-54 (4.7/12), persons 12-34 (3.0/9) and total viewers (11.74 million).
Saturday’s NFL wild-card game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Pittsburgh Steelers was the week’s No. 1 program (9.8/27 in 18-49, 25.74m). Frame was the third in a row that a football game has been the top program of the week in 18-49 and the second straight on NBC.
But pigskin wasn’t the only thing popping at the Peacock, as the net’s new version of “American Gladiators” scored impressive ratings Sunday (5.9/14 in 18-49, 12.06m), drawing the top demo preem score on any net this season.
And midweek, “The Biggest Loser” opened with its best premiere scores to date for the show’s couples edition on Tuesday (4.4/10 in 18-49, 10.47m), while “Celebrity Apprentice” was a winner on Thursday (4.5/11, 11.08m).
“Deal or No Deal” also continues to perform well in any time period, winning last week on both Wednesday (3.5/9 in 18-49, 12.33m) and Thursday (3.7/10, 13.41m). And “Law & Order” was solid in the two-hour episode kicking off its 18th season (3.8/9, 13.46m).
At Fox, its three Bowl Championship Series games during the week were down by more than 10% vs. last year, though the net won each night they aired in 18-49. Top game was Tuesday’s Georgia-Hawaii matchup in the Sugar Bowl (4.7/12, 11.70m).
ABC started the week strong with its annual “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” (3.1/11 in 18-49, 9.20 from 10-11 p.m.) and then did well Wednesday with the preems of nonscripted vets “Wife Swap” (3.3/9, 9.43m) and “Supernanny” (3.6/9, 8.89m). Also, Saturday’s pair of presidential debates averaged a solid 8.6 million viewers in primetime.
On Sunday, the Alphabet’s “Desperate Housewives” scored with its final episode completed prior to the strike (7.3/16 in 18-49, 19.78m), but only a little more than half of that aud stuck around for a special preview of new drama “Cashmere Mafia” (3.8/9, 10.56m).
CBS had a quiet week until Sunday, when the concluding 37 minutes of the San Diego-Tennessee NFL wild-card game averaged a monster 11.1/30 in 18-49 and 31.30 million viewers. That helped “60 Minutes” (4.7/12, 18.25m) and “Amazing Race” (3.9/9, 11.99m) to above-average scores.
CW’s only real highlight was “Friday Night Smackdown” (1.6/5, 4.79m), while MyNetwork drew its largest aud to date for Tuesday’s repeat of “The World Magic Awards” (0.9/2, 2.53m).
“WWE Raw” and “Monk” helped USA lead among cable nets, even though ESPN’s coverage of Clemson and Auburn in the Chick fil-A Bowl on New Year’s Eve was the top-rated program (2.4/9, 7.52m).
Standout perfs elsewhere included Nickelodeon original movie “Goodbye, Zoey,” which averaged 7.28 million viewers on Friday, and VH1’s “I Love New York 2 Reunion Special” on Sunday (2.1/5 in 18-49, 4.86m). Latter was cable’s top nonsports primetime program of the week in 18-49 and 18-34 (3.1/8).