MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- It was brawn over beauty in Monday's Nielsen ratings race, as Fox's Fiesta Bowl scored a first place 5.5/13 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic, well above the 3.1/8 average for ABC's season premiere of "The Bachelor" (3.1/7) and program premiere of "True Beauty" (3.1/8). (All data based on Nielsen fast affiliate ratings.)
Despite ABC being a bridesmaid to Fox, the ratings were attractive, as "The Bachelor's" ratings were nearly identical to last spring's premiere and "True Beauty" held all of its lead-in, which is a considerable achievement for a new show running in the 10 p.m. timeslot.
And while it's harder to find anything pretty about Ohio State Buckeye and Texas Longhorn linemen, the Fiesta Bowl ratings were the highest for a non-championship BCS game since Fox first ran the series in January 2007.
NBC, CBS down
Ratings results weren't quite as graceful for NBC and CBS, however: Figuring it would be blitzed by the Fiesta Bowl, CBS ran reruns of its hit sitcom lineup, with predictable plunges of a third to a quarter of their original episode average ("The Big Bang Theory," 2.8/7; "How I Met Your Mother," 2.6/6; "Two and a Half Men," 3.5/8 and "Worst Week Ever," 2.1/5). Drama "CSI: Miami" (2.6/7) was also a repeat and had a demo decline of 37%. Accordingly, the usual first place network fell to third with an overall 2.7/7.
NBC's time-period premiere of "Superstars of Dance" delivered a 2.7/7, down 13% from its program premiere Sunday night. And viewers found far less romance in dating reality show "Momma's Boys" (2.0/5) than in "True Beauty," as the NBC series was last in its timeslot at 10 p.m. Overall, the network finished fourth with a 2.5/6.
And the CW, always cast with good looks, is also stuck with bad luck, as original episodes of "Gossip Girl" (1.4/3) and "One Tree Hill" (1.2/3) ran against the "Bachelor's" bow, which is probably why they were down 12% and 25%, respectively, as the network averaged a fifth place 1.3/3.
WHAT TO WATCH:
Wednesday: After a crippling writers strike and reduced ratings for nearly every network, it's not clear there is too much to celebrate, but the awards season starts tonight with CBS's "People's Choice Awards."
Thursday: The BCS Championship Game between the Oklahoma Sooners and Florida Gators kicks off on Fox.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Despite the cool reception for many reality and scripted series, football has been hot. Expect the Sooners/Gators game to take a bite out of the usually high ratings on rivals ABC, CBS and NBC.
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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.