'Biggest Loser' Is Biggest Winner in Close Three-Network Race

Rash Report: NBC, CBS and Fox Separated by Two-Tenths of a Ratings Point Tuesday Night

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- The big news about the small screen's future may be about 3-D, but prime time's present showed that the content dimension helped out at least three of the Big Four networks, as only two-tenths of a ratings point separated NBC, CBS and Fox last night.

'The Biggest Loser: Couples'
'The Biggest Loser: Couples' Credit: NBC
Fox ran the FedEx Orange Bowl, just the type of programming meant for 3-D TV and one reason ESPN made such a splash with yesterday's announcement of its planned 3-D network. While the game didn't win the night, the 3.6/10 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic was 20% higher than last year's game. Combined with the pre-game (2.4/7), Fox finished third with an overall 3.6/10.

Second place went to CBS (3.7/10), with one of its dramas, "NCIS: Los Angeles" (3.7/9) featuring the type of literal and figurative explosions that also might work in 3-D. It worked fine in any form last night, as the freshman hit and its lead-in, "NCIS" (4.4/12) were just a tenth of a ratings point below their original episode season-to-date averages. Right afterward, it was a more cerebral drama, "The Good Wife," which grew by 8% to a 3.0/8.

Conversely, the contestants on the season premiere of "Biggest Loser: Couples" are trying to lose some dimension. But viewers -- many of which may be trying to fulfill New Years resolutions of their own -- really like this show, as the 4.6/12 rose 2% from last spring to become the highest-rated season premiere yet.

"Biggest Loser" star Jillian Michaels then made an appearance on "The Jay Leno Show" (2.1/6), which helped it pack on 40% more viewers than Monday night. But it wasn't as successful a stunt as last December's fall finale, when Jay's guest was the winner of "Biggest Loser." His high-energy appearance drove ratings higher, to a 2.9/8. Still, Tuesday night's episode was enough to give NBC a rare first place win with an overall 3.8/10.

But not all shows seem ready for either TV's future or present, and may soon be in the past. ABC finished fourth with a 1.3/3 as two episodes of "Scrubs" (1.5/4 and 1.4/4) and "Better Off Ted" (1.3/3 and 1.1/3) led into "The Forgotten" (1.2/3).

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

And even when they run original episodes, unlike the reruns of last night, the one-dimensional characters of CW's "90210" (.4/1) and "Melrose Place" (.3/1) suggest they won't be around when 3-D TV arrives.

Wednesday: Lisa Kudrow cameos on Courteney Cox's "Cougar Town," which reunites the two friends from "Friends."
Thursday: Shake off that shiver by watching two warm weather teams, Alabama and Texas, play in Pasadena's Rose Bowl in the BCS National Championship, on Fox.

CBS's "The People's Choice Awards" to be chosen by the most people.

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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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