MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- It was supposed to be a battle between the tapestry of deceit on "24" and red carpet of "The Golden Globes." Instead it was the steel curtain, otherwise known as the Pittsburgh Steelers, that won the night as CBS rode a Steelers victory to win a big night of network TV.
Scoring a 10.1/26 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic, the last hour of the Steelers vs. San Diego Chargers game electrified the night, more than doubling NBC's "Globes" (4.8/11), Fox's "24" (4.2/9) and almost twice as high as the second-highest-rated show, ABC's "Desperate Housewives" (5.2/12).
The big win at 7 p.m. helped lead-out "60 Minutes" (4.0/9) double last week's non-NFL lead-in rating. Combined with "Cold Case" (3.0/7, up 11% from its original episode average) and "The Unit" (2.7/7, down 21%), CBS finished first with an overall 4.9/12 (all based on Nielsen fast-affiliate ratings, with final live-plus-same-day data available tomorrow).
NBC was second with a 4.1/10, as the red-carpet "Globes" special (1.8/5) had the rug pulled out from it, as it got sacked by the game on CBS and was even beat by ABC's "America's Funniest Home Videos" (2.2/6). The awards, of course, picked up from there, spiking 182% from last year's C-Span-like press conference. But despite a return to the glitzy (Kate Winslet) and the gritty (Mickey Rourke), the kudos were seen by 26% less in the demo than in 2007, repeating the ratings loss of 14% for CBS's "People's Choice Awards" last week.
Jack Bauer once seemed like the people's choice as well, particularly when rogue rebels like him reflected a post-9/11 version of "whatever it takes" to beat the terrorists. But perhaps indicative of a new political sensibility -- let alone keener competition on NBC and not having a late NFC game as a lead-in -- its debut demo delivery was down 31% from the 2007 debut and 40% from season five's 2006 starter. At 7 p.m. Fox wisely chose to run reruns of "The Simpsons" (1.3/4 and 1.9/5) as the network realized its desired demo was probably watching the game anyway. Overall the network finished fourth with a 3.4/8.
Just ahead in third place was ABC (3.5/9), with both "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and "Brothers and Sisters" delivering a 3.4/8, which was a loss of 8% for each from their regular season averages. "Desperate" is hardly that, but it, too, had a down demo despite winning the 9 p.m. hour, as it tied for its lowest original rating of the season.
The CW finished fifth with a 0.4/1, as it was tough to beat the big game's blitz, "Golden Globes" glitz "24" grit with a rerun of off-network "Jericho" (0.2/1) and 1976 theatrical "Carrie" (.6/1).
WHAT TO WATCH:
Monday: Entertainment fans watching "The Golden Globes" probably missed the entertaining "24" season premiere. But no worries -- night two of the premiere event should catch you up ...
Tuesday: ... then it's on to the first night of Fox's "American Idol" season premiere.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: If viewers don't catch up on night two, week two -- and beyond -- the serialized "24" gets harder to follow, so tonight's ratings returns could be crucial for the franchise.
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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.