'Biggest Loser' and 'Half Their Size' Live Up to Names

Rash Report: Fox Packs on the Viewers to Win the Night

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- With the Dow shedding hundreds of points every other day and prime-time programming losing rating points for many of its season and program premieres, it's fitting that viewers had the opportunity to spend all three hours of prime time watching programs about losing weight.
'The Biggest Loser'
'The Biggest Loser' Credit: NBC

The result? The diet programs lost their timeslots, with "Half Their Size" losing half the lead-in from ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" and NBC's "Biggest Loser" losing to rival networks, especially Fox, which won the night.

'Fringe' group forms
And indeed, Fox has packed on a few viewers since the first fall showings of "House" and "Fringe," which delivered a 5.4/14 and 4.2/10 rating and share, respectively, in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic. This was up 6% and 2%, respectively, since last week, with "Fringe" up 31% from its series premiere to help Fox win the night with an overall 4.8/12.

NBC tied for second with an overall 3.3/8, as a two-hour "Biggest Loser" (3.0/8) led into "Law & Order: SVU" (3.8/10), which won its 10 p.m. ET time period.

ABC (2.4/6) was third, as "Half Their Size" (1.6/5) was doubled by "Dancing" 's 3.7/9, which itself dipped 21% from last Tuesday's first elimination round. Staying steady -- but slim, in terms of viewers -- was 8 p.m.'s "Opportunity Knocks," which matched last week's premiere performance of a 1.8/5.

CBS' tie with NBC was because of the balanced diet of unbalanced criminals running through police procedurals "NCIS" (3.5/9), "The Mentalist" (3.6/9) and "Without a Trace" (2.7/8), which were right about at premiere levels from last week.

Starved for attention
Fifth was the CW (1.3/3), which featured skinny actresses in "90210" (1.7/4) and "Privileged" (.9/2). Each weighed in at 13% more than last week, but the long-term trend is on the down side; compared to premieres, "90210" has shed 35% and "Privileged" is down 25%.

All of which disproves the maxim of one never being able to be too rich or too thin -- at least as far as the Nielsen ratings race goes -- as plus sizes are often the route to riches.

Wednesday: At least for a day, TBS could stand for three baseball series, as the Major League Divisional Championship Series features openers between the Milwaukee Brewers at the Philadelphia Phillies at 3 p.m., the Los Angeles Dodgers at the Cubs at 7 p.m. and the Red Sox at the Angels at 10 p.m.
Thursday: Speaking of hardball, the game of politics will be prominent in prime time as multiple networks carry the vice-presidential debate between Delaware Sen. Joe Biden and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Higher ratings for the veep debate than round one of the presidential debates between Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain.

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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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