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Auds mob ‘Rob,’ don’t seek out ‘The Finder’

CBS comedy has strong bow but Fox drama sputters

CBS rolled to victory on Thursday behind a huge showing by ”The Big Bang Theory,” an impressive start for Rob Schneider comedy ”Rob” and season highs for ”Person of Interest.” It was slow going though for Fox’s ”Bones” spinoff ”The Finder,” and NBC didn’t see much improvement with its revamped lineup.

According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, ”The Big Bang Theory” was easily Thursday’s No. 1 program with its first original episode of the new year (5.2/15 in 18-49, 15.9 million viewers overall), racking up one of its best scores of the season. It was followed by ”Rob” (4.1/11 in 18-49, 13.5 million viewers overall), which fared better than any regular comedy CBS has tried in the half-hour over the last two seasons (”Bleep My Dad Says,” ”Rules of Engagement” and ”How to be a Gentleman”) , winning its half-hour with ease and logging the net’s best showing in the time period since the last time ”Survivor” aired on the night, in May 2010.

A stronger lead-in also helped 9 p.m. drama ”Person of Interest” (3.2/8 in 18-49, 14.7 million viewers overall), which hit series highs in demos as well as total viewers, coming in within a tick of ”Grey’s Anatomy” in adults 25-54 and comfortably winning its time period in men 18-49 and 25-54. And at 10, ”The Mentalist” (2.7/7 in 18-49, 13.4 million viewers overall) figures to place second for its hour to MTV’s ”Jersey Shore” in 18-49 while winning in 25-54 and total viewers.

CBS won the night in 18-49 (by 2 shares) and 25-54 (by 3 shares) in addition to a dominant showing in total viewers.

Runner-up ABC predictably saw its numbers decline from last week when it faced mostly repeat competition, starting with a third-place showing for ”Wipeout” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 7.1 million viewers overall). At 9, ”Grey’s Anatomy” (3.8/9 in 18-49, 10.6 million viewers overall) was down about 15% from its season high of the previous week but remained the night’s No. 1 drama in adults 18-49. And at 10, ”Private Practice” ran second among the broadcasters (2.4/6 in 18-49, 6.7 million viewers overall).

At Fox, ”Bones” slid down to 8 o’clock and placed third (2.4/6 in 18-49, 8.6 million viewers overall), but the net finished a distant fourth among the broadcasters at 9 o’clock with the debut of ”The Finder” (1.7/4 in 18-49, 5.5 million viewers overall); the 1.7 is about half what ”Bones” did when it opened its season in the timeslot in November. Beginning next week, ”American Idol” will lead into ”The Finder.”

NBC shuffled its lineup but the results were nothing special. ”30 Rock” kicked off its season with a 1.8/5 in 18-49 and 4.6 million viewers overall , its lowest-rated premiere to date, though it did outperform the last eight original episodes of ”Community” to air in the Thursday 8 o’clock slot for the net. It was followed by ”Parks and Recreation” (1.9/5 in 18-49, 4.1 million viewers overall), which topped its two most recent originals and delivered its largest overall audience since early October but was well behind CBS’ ”Rob.” ”The Office” was in line with its December deliveries (2.9/7 in 18-49, 5.9 million viewers overall), placing third in 18-49, and ”Up All Night” moved to its new night with a 2.0/5 in 18-49, 4.3 million viewers overall) , up a tick vs. its last original episode on Wednesday and topping the last three episodes of ”Whitney” in the Thursday 9:30 p.m. timeslot. And capping the night was ”The Firm” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 4.2 million viewers overall), which doesn’t look to be an improvement over ”Prime Suspect.”

CW saw ”The Vampire Diaries” (1.2/3 in 18-49, 2.8 million viewers overall) drop off from its strong return last week, but ”The Secret Circle” (0.8/2 in 18-49, 2.1 million viewers overall) equaled its showing from last week despite tougher drama competition this time around.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: CBS, 3.5/9; ABC, 2.8/7; Fox, 2.0/5; Univision, 1.3/3; CW, 1.0/3.

In total viewers: CBS, 14.3 million; ABC, 8.1 million; Fox, 7.0 million; NBC, 4.5 million; Univision, 3.1 million; CW, 2.4 million.

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