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December 23, 2008

CBS peaks in bleak season

By Nellie Andreeva

CBS is in the black.

Following its 12th consecutive weekly victory in total viewers, CBS became the first major broadcast network this season to move into positive year-to-year territory since premiere week.

Through Dec. 21, CBS has averaged 12 million viewers, up 1% from last year. NBC, ABC and Fox are each down 9%.

All of the Big Four are still in the red in the adults 18-49 demo, with CBS closest to breaking even at minus 3%.

CBS has been a bright spot in a gloomy fall broadcast season marred by across-the-board ratings declines.

Led by resurgent Monday comedies and veteran procedural "NCIS" as well as this fall's breakout hit, "The Mentalist," the network has posted year-to-year gains for the past six weeks.

With the broadcast networks airing mostly reruns from Thursday-Sunday last week, five CBS series -- comedies "The Big Bang Theory," "How I Met Your Mother" and "Worst Week" and dramas "NCIS" and "Mentalist" -- registered series highs in viewers, adults 18-49 or both. Veterans "Two and a Half Men" and "Without a Trace" saw their best marks of the season.

CBS, which averaged 11.2 million viewers and a 2.7 rating/8 share in adults 18-49 for the week, had nine of the 10 most-watched programs, including the top two, "NCIS" (20 million viewers) and "Mentalist" (19.3 million).

NBC's "Sunday Night Football" (18.9 million viewers, 6.8/18), the season finale of "The Biggest Loser" (11.8 million, 4.6/12) and "Heroes" (7.9 million, 3.7/9), which inched up to a seven-week high in adults 18-49, were the only non-CBS programs to crack the top 10 in adults 18-49, ranking as No. 1, No. 3 (tied with CBS' "Mother") and No. 10, respectively.

"SNF" and "Loser" lifted NBC to No. 2 for the week among total viewers (7.5 million) and 18-49 (2.6/7).

The big turnout for the "Loser" finale also provided sizable sampling for the preview of NBC's new dating reality series "Momma's Boys" (6 million, 2.5/7), which lost almost half of its "Loser" lead-in.

The highlight for Fox (6.1 million, 2.1/6), which finished third for the week, was the reality series "Secret Millionaire," which did respectable business Wednesday.

Meanwhile, MyNetworkTV's ratings upswing continued with a third weekly win over the CW in total viewers (1.8 million vs. 1.5 million).


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