MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- Call it vertical integration for a post-modern media age: Fox creates content like last night's "Osbournes: Reloaded," and then Fox News Channel complains about the show's coarsening effect on our culture. Viewers seem to like both: Fox News' ratings are roaring as it responds aggressively to the new Obama administration, and "Osbournes: Reloaded" made its debut with a 3.7/9 rating and share in the ad-centric 18-to-49 demographic. Coupled with lead-in "American Idol's" 8.9/23, Fox won remotes -- if not respect -- as it averaged a first-place 7.4/19, well above NBC (3.5/9), CBS (3.4/9), ABC (2.1/6) and the CW (1.0/3).
"Osbournes: Reloaded" was panned by Panama City's Fox affiliate, which, along with Fox's Cincinnati station, refused to run the reality show. Among the bits that turned them off was a skit with two kids posing as a young Ozzie and Sharon verbally (and vulgarly) abusing movie-theater patrons and ushers.
By comparison, ABC's program premiere, the romantic dramedy "Cupid," was cute. But it was also low-rated, delivering only a 2.3/6, which was even with results for the normal time-slot occupant, "Primetime: What Would You Do?" But love not only didn't conquer all, it got beat by NBC's "Law and Order: SVU" (down 6% to a 3.4/9 but still tops in the 10 p.m. time slot) and CBS's "Without a Trace" (even with its 2.8/8 season average).
Of course, it didn't help that ABC started the night with a one-hour rerun of two-week-old show "Better off Ted," whose .9/2 halved its already low average. Better off than "Ted" was the "Dancing With the Stars" results show (3.1/8), which tripled the results of its "Ted" lead-in but was down 21% from its season average and finished fourth in the time slot, just as ABC did for the night overall.
Many chose a show about cutting calories rather than cutting a rug. But NBC's two-hour "Biggest Loser" was down 8% from its season average to a 3.5/9.
On CBS, "NCIS" was off a negligible 5% to a 3.5/9, and "The Mentalist" was up a 10th of a rating point from its original-episode season average to a 3.8/9.
And on the CW, right after "Reaper" (1.0/3), the big news was the return from reruns -- six weeks of them -- of "90210." Actually, it's more like the second return for the show, which made its original debut a generation ago with 1990's "Beverly Hills, 90210."
Perhaps not surprisingly, the original version ran on Fox, and became a seminal if not smash hit that helped define the relatively new network. Times change, however: Last night's CW version looked quaint compared with Fox's latest content, and delivered only a 1.1/3.
WHAT TO WATCH:
Wednesday: April Fools' Day seems an appropriate time for "I Get That a Lot," CBS's show punking people with celebrities doing regular-Joe jobs. (Whether in-on-the-joke viewers feel punked for watching remains to be seen.)
Thursday: The end not just of a show but an era: No, not today's announcement that after 15,700 episodes spanning 72 years on radio and TV, CBS's "Guiding Light" will go dark in September, but NBC's final night of "E.R."
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
A slight spike -- albeit too late -- for the series finale of BBC-turned-ABC drama "Life on Mars."
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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.