MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- All's fair in love and war, it is said. So ABC used love -- or reality TV's equivalent, "The Bachelor" -- to triumph over war -- or Fox's equivalent, "24" -- on its way to a decisive victory with the ad-centric 18-to-49 demographic.
Scoring its highest rating in half a decade, "The Bachelor's" two-hour season finale delivered a 5.4/13 rating and share, which led into the best-ever ratings for "The Bachelor: After the Final Rose" (6.7/17). Together, they hooked up for a 5.8/14 for the night, well above CBS (4.1/10), Fox (3.3/8), NBC (2.7/6) and the CW (0.5/1).
"24," the prime-time program most associated with the ongoing "war on terror," ran a two-hour episode as well. It was down 15% from its season-to-date average to a 3.3/8, as it not only faced tougher competition from "The Bachelor" and CBS sitcoms but also missed its "House" lead-in.
CBS returned from reruns that have reduced ratings the past two weeks. First-hour (and first-rate) sitcoms "The Big Bang Theory" (3.9/10) and "How I Met Your Mother" (4.2/10) didn't miss a beat, however, as each hit its season-to-date original-episode average. "Two and a Half Men" (4.9/11) was just 6% off, but the network has to be pleased with the return of "Rules of Engagement" (3.9/9), which not only was within 5% of last season's original-episode average but was 26% above previous occupant of the time slot, "Worst Week Ever." At 10 p.m., "CSI: Miami" -- whose plotline revolves around a different kind of war, the one in America's big cities -- may have also lost a few viewers to the love of "After the Final Rose," as it was down 7% to a 3.8/9.
NBC, whose "Heroes" inspired an audience crush two years ago, continued its recent rocky relationship with its fans, many of them who fell out of love with the show around last year's strike-struck season. It fell to an original-episode series low, 3.3/7, which was fourth in the time period. That was the same position for "Chuck" (2.4/6), although it held its average. But "Medium" didn't, as it fell 14% to a 2.4/6.
The CW was met with neither love nor war but an even more damaging emotion for a network trying to engage with young women: indifference. But that shouldn't be surprising, as "Gossip Girl" and "One Tree Hill" (both 0.5/1) both ran reruns for the fourth week in a row.
WHAT TO WATCH:
Tuesday: Despite finishing fifth among adults 18 to 49 most nights, the CW can still connect with its intended target of young women. Of course, it'll take fresh programming to get back its media mojo. Tonight's a good start, with the return of "Reaper," the clever comedy that is anything but grim.
Wednesday: Then the CW's signature show, "America's Next Top Model," struts its stuff with its season premiere.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Another big night for reality TV, as Fox's "American Idol" and NBC's "The Biggest Loser" run against reruns of CBS's dramas.
NOTE: All ratings based on adults 18-49. A share is a percentage of adults 18-49 who have their TV sets on at a given time. A rating is a percentage of all adults 18-49, whether or not their sets are turned on. For example, a 1.0 rating is 1% of the total U.S. adults 18-49 population with TVs. Ratings quoted in this column are based on live-plus-same-day unless otherwise noted. (Many ad deals have been negotiated on the basis of commercial-minute, live-plus-three-days viewing.)
John Rash is senior VP-director of media analysis for Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis. For more, see rashreport.com.