'Leno,' 'Biggest Loser' Big Winners

Rash Report: NBC Wins Tuesday Night in Key Demo

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- "The Biggest Loser's" biggest gainer wasn't just the show itself, which had its highest rated season finale in four years, but Jay Leno, whose talk show had its highest rating since its premiere week.

'The Biggest Loser'
'The Biggest Loser' Credit: NBC
Together, Leno and "Loser" packed on enough ad-centric adult 18-49 viewers to win the night overall for NBC with a 4.3/12 rating and share, ahead of ABC and CBS (tied for second with a 2.4/6), Fox (third with a 2.3/6) and the CW (finishing fifth with a .8/2).

"Biggest Loser," in which winner Danny Cahill lost 239 pounds, weighed in at a 5.0/13, topping last fall's finale by 9% and last spring's by 6%. Right after, in a rare case of strategic synergy between Leno and its lead-in, Cahill appeared on "The Jay Leno Show," which helped it deliver a 2.9/8.

NBC was helped by CBS, which usually wins the night, running reruns of its dramas ("NCIS, 2.8/8; "NCIS: Los Angeles," 2.3/6; "The Good Wife," 1.9/5).

Fox also had a good night with reality, as "So You Think You Can Dance" rose 9% from last week to a 2.4/6, while the CW, which competes for the same young audience, ran "90210" (1.0/3) and "Melrose Place" (.7/2).

As for ABC, its hope of establishing a sitcom block in the 9 p.m. hour was dealt another setback, as the season premiere of "Better off Ted" (1.5/4) only delivered 71% of its series premiere last year. And this was despite "Scrubs" (2.3/6) increasing by 15% from last week. At 10 p.m., a rerun of "The Forgotten" matched last week's 1.2/4.

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

Danny Cahill's inspiring achievement overshadowed the original biggest (but loveable) loser, Charlie Brown, whose ABC Christmas special regifted last year's 3.7/10. And Charlie not only lost to Danny, but, similar to what happened to the Grinch a week back, the Peanuts' Christmas classic lost to an upstart. Only this time it wasn't Shrek, but "Prep and Landing" (4.1/11), a new Disney holiday special seeking to become an evergreen in its own right.

Wednesday: Any list with Lady Gaga and Glenn Beck is bound to be interesting: "Barbara Walters Presents the 10 Most Fascinating People of 2009" on ABC.
Thursday: It's impossible not to watch NBC's "The Office" and "30 Rock" when they both have episodes called "Secret Santa."

A short-lived spot at the top for Jay Leno, as his show, with edgy director Quentin Tarantino as a guest, goes up against the more accessible Barbara Walters.

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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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