'Lost' Finds New Viewers

Rash Report: Final Season Premiere up 10% in Key Demo From Last Year's First Episode

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- Defying pop-culture gravity, the last "Lost" season started off with more viewers than last year, which is a relative rarity, especially for such a densely woven drama that even some hard-core fans have a hard time following.

'Lost' Credit: ABC
Delivering a 5.5/14 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic, the two-hour "Lost" season premiere was up 10% over last year's bow. The night started off with a 4.1/11 for "Lost: Final Chapter," a clip show that was up 24% from last season's catcher-upper, suggesting the highly hyped premiere led some viewers to try to reconnect with the show in its final season.

But, overall, ABC could only finish second with a 5.1/13, as another show not showing its age -- Fox's "American Idol" -- matched last week's 9.0/23. It was followed by "Kitchen Nightmares" (3.8/9), as Fox finished first for the night with a 6.4/16.

But ABC and Fox didn't seem to hit CBS too hard, as "NCIS" (4.3/11) and spin-off "NCIS: Los Angeles" (3.6/9) were each just a tenth of a ratings point below their original-episode season averages. At 10 p.m. "The Good Wife" wasn't great, as it was off 10% to a 2.6/7, but overall CBS was a competitive third with a 3.5/9.

NBC, although fourth with a 3.0/8, had a relatively good night, mostly because it jettisoned Jay Leno in favor of a two-hour "Biggest Loser: Couples" (3.7/9) from 9 p.m. to 11p.m. and at 8 p.m. it ran a rerun of "Biggest Loser," which weighed in at a 1.5/4.

But, alas, the CW -- the network designed to define pop culture, let alone defy its gravity -- ran reruns (again) of "90210" (0.3/1) and "Melrose Place" (0.2/1) to finish fifth with a .3/1.

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

Wednesday: Could any media or marketing professional not recommend CBS's "Super Bowl's Greatest Commercials 2010?"
Thursday: The capacity on your DVR, as the first February sweeps night brings new episodes for every program on each broadcast network.

Fox's "Human Target" has had a bodyguard -- "American Idol" -- on most nights its run, but now airs unprotected leading off at 8 p.m., which could reduce 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.

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