Happy New Year! 'Loser' Scores Record Premiere

TVWeek's James Hibberd: Rated

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NBC took a calculated risk premiering the fifth season of "The Biggest Loser" on New Year's Day, when viewership levels are still stumbling out of their holiday funk. By launching the show Jan. 1, the network hoped to establish a two-week foothold with viewers before "American Idol" returns.

The gambit worked. The couples-edition of "Loser" netted a 4.3 preliminary rating among adults 18 to 49 in its premiere. That was the highest launch ever for the show, up 39% from last fall's debut.

Overall, however, Fox is expected to win the night with its presentation of the college football Sugar Bowl, pitting Georgia vs. Hawaii, which registered a 4.9 preliminary rating.

NBC was second with "Loser" and one of the few remaining new episodes of "Law & Order: SVU" (4.2).

ABC was a distant third, with half-hour of Rose Bowl overrun topping its lineup (3.9), followed by the season premieres of "Just for Laughs" (2.6) and "According to Jim" (1.7). An additional episode of "Jim" (1.7) followed, then a repeat of "Boston Legal" (1.8).

CBS was fourth with repeats of "NCIS" (2.3), "The Unit" (1.7) and "48 Hours Mystery" (1.6).

The CW was fifth with repeats.