The finale of “Survivor,” original episodes of most of its hit shows and a sizable NFL overrun on Sunday lifted CBS to one of the most dominant ratings victories of the season.
With many of the top shows on the competition preempted or airing in repeat, the Eye claimed seven of the week’s top 10 programs in adults 18-49 — as well as the top five scripted skeins.
CBS wraps fall tied with Fox for the lead among adults 18-49 while holding comfortable leads in its strongest categories — adults 25-54 and total viewers. While CBS is up slightly across the board, Fox is the only net to improve by double-digit percentages.
Looking at the week of Dec. 12-18, Nielsen estimates that CBS averaged a 2.8 rating/8 share in adults 18-49 during primetime, comfortably ahead of NBC (2.0/6) and Fox (1.9/5), with ABC and Univision (both 1.3/4) well behind. CBS also cruised in adults 25-54 (3.8/9 to 2.5/6 for runner-up NBC) and total viewers, where its 11.4 million was nearly as much as the next two nets combined (6.2 million for NBC, 5.6 million for Fox).
Highlights for CBS included “2 Broke Girls” (4.2/11 in 18-49, 12.50m), which still performed very well despite airing a half-hour earlier than usual (in place of “How I Met Your Mother”). The net also won in the 9 o’clock hour with “Two and a Half Men” (4.7/11, 14.88m) and “Mike and Molly” (4.0/9, 12.77m).
“NCIS” (3.6/10, 19.13m), “Criminal Minds” (3.4/9, 12.88m) and “Person of Interest” (2.8/8, 12.93m) were among the Eye’s timeslot-winning dramas, with the last drawing its largest audience since its premiere.
And Sunday, following a hugely rated NFL game, “60 Minutes” surged (4.0/11, 18.47m), and “Survivor” (4.0/10, 13.07m) wrapped on par with the show’s spring conclusion and down a bit vs. last year’s fall finale.
NBC was paced by “Sunday Night Football” (6.1/15, 16.58m), though the Baltimore-San Diego match was one of the franchise’s least-watched of the season.
The net also was boosted by the return of “Fear Factor” (3.5/8, 8.52m), which significantly improved its Monday timeslot and became the net’s second strongest entertainment series telecast of the fall in 18-49.
Fox was led by Wednesday’s episode of “The X Factor” (3.4/10, 10.79m), though the new comedy that followed it, “I Hate My Teenage Daughter” (1.8/5, 5.06m), took a hit in its second week. Net fared better with its Tuesday rookie comedy “New Girl” (3.3/9, 6.82m), again building on its demo lead-in from “Glee” (3.0/8, 7.13m).
And ABC, which didn’t air any original scripted programs, had a very quiet week, seeing its best numbers from Wednesday spec “Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2011” (2.3/6, 8.39m), though the annual event continues to see its popularity wane.
ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” was below average (3.7/10 in 18-49, 9.88m for St. Louis-Seattle) but was easily the top cable draw of the week. Top entertainment series among young adults were A&E’s “Storage Wars” (2.3/6, 5.20m) and “Storage Wars: Texas” (2.1/6, 4.68m), Discovery’s “Gold Rush” (2.1/7, 5.38m), History’s “Pawn Stars” (2.1/6, 5.23m) and MTV’s “Teen Mom” (2.0/5, 3.42m).
Other than “MNF,” the most-watched cablecast of the week was Fox News Channel’s coverage of the Republican Presidential Debate on Thursday (6.71 million). It drew more viewers than ABC News’ “The Year With Katie Couric” special that aired on the same night (5.54m).
And on the pay cable side, Showtime was pleased with the numbers for its Sunday finales of “Dexter” (2.23 million) and “Homeland” (1.71m). When you add in a second showing that night, “Homeland’s” audience (2.1 million) was the largest to date for the first-season finale of a Showtime series (Daily Variety, Dec. 20).