MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- New Year's is a time for resolutions -- particularly regarding weight loss. Whether "The Biggest Loser's" viewers and contestants will keep their resolutions remains to be seen. But NBC, which is hoping to gain audience after losing viewers in 2008, was off to a good start Tuesday night.
The seventh-season premiere of "Loser" packed on 41% more adults 18 to 49 than the show's fall premiere, delivering a 4.5/11 rating and share, which was big enough to win a two-hour time slot from 8 to 10 p.m. The strong start right after the holiday buffets doesn't appear to be a coincidence. Last night's rating was separated from season five's New Year's Day 2008 premiere by just a tenth of a ratings point, suggesting that the show acts as an inspiration to some and a cautionary tale to others when their attention is most focused on their weight.
"Loser" combined with 10 p.m.'s winner, "Law and Order: SVU" (3.9/10), to give NBC first place with an overall 4.3/11.
It was also a night of new beginnings for ABC, with the premiere of "Homeland Security," a controversial reality show that documents the federal agency. It locked up a 2.3/6, higher than one of the shows that used to run in the time slot, the game show "Opportunity Knocks," but third in the hour, just above a repeat of Fox's "House" (2.2/6).
Next on the network, ex-NBC sitcom "Scrubs" made its ABC debut with two episodes. The 3.1/7 for the 9 p.m. premiere was 18% below the last premiere on NBC in October 2007. The ratings held at 9:30 (3.2/8), partly because all the network competition was longer-form programming, including a "Fringe" rerun on Fox, which delivered a 1.4/3 to give Fox an overall 1.8/5.
Like many at the turn of the year, ABC made a clean break from 2008 on Tuesday night, with yet another premiere at 10 p.m. "Primetime: What Would You Do?" just eclipsed CBS's "Without a Trace" (2.6/7) with a 2.7/7, which was also ABC's third-place overall rating and share.
CBS's second-place 3.5/9 was due not to new resolutions but to holding on to what worked so well last year. "NCIS" had its second-highest overall viewership and was up 3% in the demo to a 3.8/10. Hot hit "The Mentalist" did even better, reaching more total viewers than ever before. It also jumped 8% in the demo, notching a 4.0/10.
The CW's resolution is probably to make the end of the week work as well as its female-focused beginning. But it can't ignore last night's trends, either, as "90210" (1.4/4) lost 22% of its original episode average and "Privileged" (.8/2) shed 11%.
WHAT TO WATCH:
Wednesday: After a crippling writers strike and reduced ratings for nearly every network, it's not clear there is much from last year 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 a 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 Fox rivals ABC, CBS and NBC.
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.