Original Episodes Bring Repeat of First Place for CBS

Rash Report: Fox Comes in Second, Led by 'House'

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- The new media revolution not only needs new equipment, but also a new dictionary, as words such as "Hulu" and "iPad" enter pop-culture parlance. But a much more low-tech method is here now, and bound to raise ratings at the beleaguered broadcast networks: run new episodes of viewers' old favorites.

'Two and a Half Men'
'Two and a Half Men' Credit: CBS
CBS relearned the lesson last night, with original episodes powering the Eye network to first place in the ratings race with an overall 4.1/11 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic.

Though CBS won from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. with the top two highest-rated shows of the night -- sitcoms "Two and a Half Men" (5.1/12) and "Big Bang Theory" (5.4/13) -- as well as drama "CSI: Miami" (3.7/10), it could only finish third from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., as "How I Met Your Mother" (3.7/10) and "Accidentally on Purpose" (3.0/8) lost to the hour's winner, Fox's "House" (4.8/13), and to ABC's "The Bachelor," which hit another season high with a 4.1/10 for a two-hour episode.

Fox followed "House" with "24" (3.1/8, down 8% from last week) and was second overall with a 4.0/10.

ABC was third with a 3.5/9, as "The Bachelor's" lead-out, "Castle" (2.2/6) ran a rerun. But perhaps because people are still discovering the show, it was only down 12% from its original episode average.

Of course, original episodes only go so far. They have to be for programs that are in relatively high demographic demand in the first place. NBC, for instance, finished fourth with a 1.9/5 despite new showings of "Chuck" (2.4/6), "Heroes" (2.0/5) and "The Jay Leno Show" (1.1/3). And the CW still struggled despite having new episodes, as "One Tree Hill" and "Life Unexpected" both delivered a 1.0 rating.

To be sure, the nets need to adopt and adapt to technological transformations in order to maximize viewership. But by still depending on an original episode/rerun business model they are still operating as they did when rabbit ears were the next big thing.

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

WHAT TO WATCH:
Tuesday: The last "Lost" season begins on ABC.
Wednesday: Could any media or marketing professional not recommend CBS's "Super Bowl's Greatest Commercials 2010"?

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Too many people involved in social media to notice "Digital Nation," PBS's "Frontline" examination of the way the web alters "how we work, learn and interact."

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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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