'Biggest Loser' Is Biggest Winner in Close Three-Network Race

Rash Report: NBC, CBS and Fox Separated by Two-Tenths of a Ratings Point Tuesday Night

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- The big news about the small screen's future may be about 3-D, but prime time's present showed that the content dimension helped out at least three of the Big Four networks, as only two-tenths of a ratings point separated NBC, CBS and Fox last night.

'The Biggest Loser: Couples'
'The Biggest Loser: Couples' Credit: NBC
Fox ran the FedEx Orange Bowl, just the type of programming meant for 3-D TV and one reason ESPN made such a splash with yesterday's announcement of its planned 3-D network. While the game didn't win the night, the 3.6/10 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic was 20% higher than last year's game. Combined with the pre-game (2.4/7), Fox finished third with an overall 3.6/10.

Second place went to CBS (3.7/10), with one of its dramas, "NCIS: Los Angeles" (3.7/9) featuring the type of literal and figurative explosions that also might work in 3-D. It worked fine in any form last night, as the freshman hit and its lead-in, "NCIS" (4.4/12) were just a tenth of a ratings point below their original episode season-to-date averages. Right afterward, it was a more cerebral drama, "The Good Wife," which grew by 8% to a 3.0/8.

Conversely, the contestants on the season premiere of "Biggest Loser: Couples" are trying to lose some dimension. But viewers -- many of which may be trying to fulfill New Years resolutions of their own -- really like this show, as the 4.6/12 rose 2% from last spring to become the highest-rated season premiere yet.

"Biggest Loser" star Jillian Michaels then made an appearance on "The Jay Leno Show" (2.1/6), which helped it pack on 40% more viewers than Monday night. But it wasn't as successful a stunt as last December's fall finale, when Jay's guest was the winner of "Biggest Loser." His high-energy appearance drove ratings higher, to a 2.9/8. Still, Tuesday night's episode was enough to give NBC a rare first place win with an overall 3.8/10.

But not all shows seem ready for either TV's future or present, and may soon be in the past. ABC finished fourth with a 1.3/3 as two episodes of "Scrubs" (1.5/4 and 1.4/4) and "Better Off Ted" (1.3/3 and 1.1/3) led into "The Forgotten" (1.2/3).

Rash gridsEnlarge
See how all the shows did in the ratings.

And even when they run original episodes, unlike the reruns of last night, the one-dimensional characters of CW's "90210" (.4/1) and "Melrose Place" (.3/1) suggest they won't be around when 3-D TV arrives.

WHAT TO WATCH:
Wednesday: Lisa Kudrow cameos on Courteney Cox's "Cougar Town," which reunites the two friends from "Friends."
Thursday: Shake off that shiver by watching two warm weather teams, Alabama and Texas, play in Pasadena's Rose Bowl in the BCS National Championship, on Fox.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
CBS's "The People's Choice Awards" to be chosen by the most people.

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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.

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