The result? The diet programs lost their timeslots, with "Half Their Size" losing half the lead-in from ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" and NBC's "Biggest Loser" losing to rival networks, especially Fox, which won the night.
'Fringe' group forms
And indeed, Fox has packed on a few viewers since the first fall showings of "House" and "Fringe," which delivered a 5.4/14 and 4.2/10 rating and share, respectively, in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic. This was up 6% and 2%, respectively, since last week, with "Fringe" up 31% from its series premiere to help Fox win the night with an overall 4.8/12.
NBC tied for second with an overall 3.3/8, as a two-hour "Biggest Loser" (3.0/8) led into "Law & Order: SVU" (3.8/10), which won its 10 p.m. ET time period.
ABC (2.4/6) was third, as "Half Their Size" (1.6/5) was doubled by "Dancing" 's 3.7/9, which itself dipped 21% from last Tuesday's first elimination round. Staying steady -- but slim, in terms of viewers -- was 8 p.m.'s "Opportunity Knocks," which matched last week's premiere performance of a 1.8/5.
CBS' tie with NBC was because of the balanced diet of unbalanced criminals running through police procedurals "NCIS" (3.5/9), "The Mentalist" (3.6/9) and "Without a Trace" (2.7/8), which were right about at premiere levels from last week.
Starved for attention
Fifth was the CW (1.3/3), which featured skinny actresses in "90210" (1.7/4) and "Privileged" (.9/2). Each weighed in at 13% more than last week, but the long-term trend is on the down side; compared to premieres, "90210" has shed 35% and "Privileged" is down 25%.
All of which disproves the maxim of one never being able to be too rich or too thin -- at least as far as the Nielsen ratings race goes -- as plus sizes are often the route to riches.
WHAT TO WATCH:
Wednesday: At least for a day, TBS could stand for three baseball series, as the Major League Divisional Championship Series features openers between the Milwaukee Brewers at the Philadelphia Phillies at 3 p.m., the Los Angeles Dodgers at the Cubs at 7 p.m. and the Red Sox at the Angels at 10 p.m.
Thursday: Speaking of hardball, the game of politics will be prominent in prime time as multiple networks carry the vice-presidential debate between Delaware Sen. Joe Biden and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Higher ratings for the veep debate than round one of the presidential debates between Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain.
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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.