'Secret Millionaire' Appeals More Than 'Dirty Sexy Money'

Rash Report: Tough Times Seem to Influence Viewers

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- The ratings results, as well as the two titles of two network shows last night, may say as much about how Americans feel about money as the dreary drumbeat of bad economic data.

'Secret Millionaire'
'Secret Millionaire' Credit: Fox
Fox's "Secret Millionaire," in which an incognito "have" shares with a "have-not," won its 8 p.m. timeslot, rising 22% from its premiere program last week to a 2.8/8 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic. Meanwhile, ABC's "Dirty Sexy Money," which celebrates the nothing- exceeds-like-excess ethos that no longer seems popular, let alone possible, was last in its 10 p.m. time period, ringing up a 1.8/5, which was 10% below its season average.

Indeed, the rich trying to buy their way out of trouble on "Dirty Sexy Money" lost to the lock-em-up sensibilities of CBS's "CSI: NY" (3.6/10) and NBC's "Law and Order" (2.2/6).

Poor 'Spirit'
And the rich angel angle of "Secret Millionaire" doubled down on a new special celebrating the season of angels, as NBC's "Little Spirit: Christmas in New York" (1.4/4) was the second-lowest-rated holiday special so far this season. (Even lower was another new holiday entry, last Friday's "Greatest Holiday Moments" on NBC, which was a new special about old favorites. But it is those very same favorite evergreens that rank first through third so far, as "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (1964), "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (1966) and "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (1965) are as modern -- and timeless -- as ever.)

"Secret Millionaire" also beat ABC's "Pushing Daisies," an escapist fantasy that may be too candy-colored for these grey days. It fell 11% from its season average to a 1.6/5.

On the CW, a fantasy about finding a job (let alone making a million), the fashion reality show "Stylista," designed a .4/1 for an 8 p.m. rerun and a .6/2 for an original episode at 9 p.m., as the network finished fifth with an overall .5/1.

CBS takes first place
CBS sitcoms "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (2.2/7) and "Gary Unmarried" (2.4/7) were second at 8 p.m, but the network was first for the night with a 3.3/9 after "Criminal Minds" (3.9/10) won the 9 p.m. hour, leading into "CSI's" 10 p.m. win.

Fox was second for the night with a 2.2/6, but it fell to fourth for 9 p.m. with a 1.6/4 for a "Bones" repeat. ABC was second in the hour ("Private Practice," 2.4/6) but third for the night with a 2.0/5. NBC (1.8/5) was fourth for the night, but third for the hour, as "Life" posted a 1.9/5.

Tonight at 8 p.m. is another run, and another test, for "Secret Millionaire." Sure, it's in a tougher time period. But who knows? Given today's economic news -- the biggest bump in first-time unemployment claims in 26 years --"Secret Millionaire" may give "Survivor" a whole new meaning.

Thursday: Well, maybe "Little Spirit: Christmas in New York" didn't get you in the holiday spirit. How about Christmas in Midtown Manhattan, with the holiday episode of NBC's "30 Rock"?
Friday: OK, after the cynically silly "30 Rock," retreat to an irony-free zone of "Frosty the Snowman" on CBS.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: With ABC in repeats, the ratings race should be won by CBS, which runs "Survivor: Gabon," "CSI" and "Eleventh Hour."

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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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