MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- Back in her "Today" days, Katie Couric followed many stars who had national "moments." Lately, she could be reporting on herself, as we seem to be in a "Katie Couric moment," triggered by her campaign-defining interview with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, which in part won her "CBS Evening News" an 8 p.m.-time-slot tryout last week. This week, she's prominent in prime time twice, with last night's "All Access Grammy Special" and this Sunday's "Sully" exclusive, in which she gets the first official crack (ESPN got the unofficial one) at hero pilot Capt. Chesley Sullenberger.
As in her day -- or "Evening News" -- job, however, ratings are still a challenge. While her Grammy chat jumped 82% from last week's prime-time "Evening News," its 2.0/5 rating and share in the ad-centric 18-to-49 demographic was still third in the time slot, behind "Lie to Me" on Fox and "Lost" on ABC, both of which delivered a 4.7/12. Still, the Grammy special beat NBC's "Life" (1.8/4) and a repeat of the CW's "90210" (.4/1).
Ms. Couric wasn't helped by having a rerun lead-in ("Criminal Minds"), but then again, neither was ABC (a "Lost" repeat), as both delivered a 1.7/5. "Lie to Me," conversely, was hugely helped by its lead-in, as "American Idol" (9.9/27) easily won, giving Fox the night's overall victory, with an average 7.3/19.
NBC ran an original episode of its retread 1980's series, "Knight Rider," which stalled into its usual fourth-place position with a 1.4/4. On the CW, meanwhile, a second showing of "Privileged," which faced with the responsibility of keeping young females from flocking to "Idol," could muster only a .3/1. The CW finished fifth for the night, with a .4/1.
CBS also scheduled a repeat to follow its Grammy special, and 46% fewer viewers tuned in to "CSI: NY" than normal. The drama delivered a third-place 1.9/5, which was also CBS's overall Wednesday average. That tied it with NBC for third place, as a 2.4/6 for 10 p.m. winner "Law and Order" lifted the network's overall average. ABC (2.8/7) was second for the night, and in the time slot, as "Life on Mars" came in just below last week's time-period premiere, at 2.0/6.
Expect better things -- and Katie Couric's "moment" to hit a high point -- on Sunday, as her "60 Minutes" interview is paired with the 51st-annual Grammy Awards.
WHAT TO WATCH:
Thursday: Last week, ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" was a repeat, and CBS's "CSI" was an original. This week that's reversed, and the viewing should be too.
Friday: Stanley Kubrick's ridiculous and sublime Cold War-era film "Dr. Strangelove" runs as part of TCM's "31 Days of Oscar."
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
NBC's "The Office" had its highest rating ever following the Super Bowl. How will Sunday's sampling impact Thursday's 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.