The 2.4/6 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-to-49 demographic was the highest-rated network show in its 8 p.m. EDT timeslot, followed by week two of the new season of "Prison Break" (2.6/6, just below last week's season premiere) as Fox finished first among broadcasters with an overall 2.5/6.
Sticking with the pigskin
But while "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" won in the ratings last night, it lost more than two thirds of its Jan. 13 premiere, as it missed something even more macho than "The Terminator" -- an NFL football playoff game between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys -- which kicked off the show so well back then.
Many of those viewers (OK mostly, but not all guys) stuck with pigskin programming during "Sarah's" season two debut, as ESPN's "Monday Night Football was also back with the two top-rated programs of the night: Game One of a double-header, with a 5.1/15 watching the Brett Favre-less Green Bay Packers still beat the Minnesota Vikings 24-19, followed by a 4.3/15 for the Oakland Raiders (who could have used Favre -- or anyone) getting kicked by the Denver Broncos 41-14.
CBS was second on broadcast with a bit of macho swagger itself, as manly Horatio Caine (David Caruso) and womanizer Charlie Harper (Charlie Sheen) led "CSI: Miami" (2.0/5) and "Two and a Half Men" (2.9/7) to wins, despite being repeats. The other CBS sitcoms were also second-showings -- and mostly second in their respective time periods -- as "The Big Bang Theory" (1.8/5), "How I Met Your Mother" (2.2/6) and "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (2.4/6) contributed to CBS's overall average of 2.2/6.
Indeed, there's been a surge in tough-guy TV, with cable hits such as Discovery's "Deadliest Catch" and History's "Ice Road Truckers" inspiring NBC's "America's Toughest Jobs," which scored a 2.2/5, matching its lead-in "Deal or No Deal" (2.2/6) and well above lead-out "Dateline" (1.8/5). For the night, NBC finished third among broadcasters with a 2.0/5.
Girls' night in
The CW, conversely, ditched the guys for a girls' night in, with consistent performances from "Gossip Girl" and "One Tree Hill," which each delivered a 1.7/4, matching the network's average for the night and even with last week's season starters to lead the network to a fourth-place finish.
ABC relied on music that is supposed to cross over genres -- and genders -- but "CMA Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock" lost about a quarter of its audience compared to last year, delivering a 1.4/4. Still the network's fifth-place broadcast finish (1.2/3) was mostly because the CMA special followed a show without a big following by either gender: "High School Musical: Get in the Picture," which was the lowest-rated network show of the night with a 0.7/2.
WHAT TO WATCH:
Tuesday: Science and science fiction, as PBS's "Nova" runs against Fox's "Fringe," the best-reviewed new show.
Wednesday: Think Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is taking Washington by storm? See the original "everyman" among congressmen in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," one of five films to kick off the "American Politics in the Movies" series, which will run every Wednesday in September.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Will "Fringe's" remote-free TV help hike ratings?
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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.