'Deal,' 'Heroes' pave way to NBC win

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NEW YORK -- NBC took a Monday in viewership and the key adults 18-49 demographic thanks to a record "Deal or No Deal" and "Heroes" and a second episode of "The Black Donnellys" that was down only slightly from last week's disappointing premiere.

CBS by contrast had a mostly repeat lineup, with only the season finale of "The Class" and a new "Rules of Engagement" while Fox took second place in the demo with new episodes of "Prison Break" and "24."

It was all "Deal or No Deal" at 8 p.m., with the Howie Mandel-hosted game show averaging 18.3 million viewers and a 5.4 rating/14 share in the adults 18-49 demographic, according to preliminary data released Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research. It was the highest viewership "Deal" has ever tallied -- ahead of June 5, 2006's 18.2 million -- and the highest demo rating since last Nov. 13.

"Heroes" (14.9 million, 6.6/15) continued its strong run with the best viewership its had since Dec. 4 and the highest rated in the demo since Jan. 22. It was the night's top show in adults 18-49 and ahead of Fox's "24" (13 million, 4.9/11), which was up slightly week-to-week. "The Black Donnellys" (7 million, 3.0/8) was down from last week's disappointing premiere (7.9 million, 3.2/8) at 10 p.m.

Fox saw a slight week-to-week decrease at 8 p.m. with "Prison Break" (9.7 million, 3.9/10). ABC at 9 p.m. was down with "Supernanny" (9.5 million, 3.7/9) and at 10 p.m. was down 12% from its prior average in the demo with "What About Brian" (4.8 million, 2.2/6).

Only "The Class" (8.8 million, 3.2/8) and "Rules of Engagement" (12.6 million, 4.3/10) were new Monday on CBS. "The Class" was about even with its repeat lead-in of "How I Met Your Mother" (8.8 million, 3.2/9); "Rules of Engagement" was the lowest its been in the demo but it also didn't have an original "Two and a Half Men" ahead of it.

Nightly averages: ABC (7.5 million, 3.0/8); CBS (12.2 million, 3.9/10); NBC (13.4 million, 5.0/13); Fox (11.4 million, 4.4/11); and The CW (1.9 milliion, 0.8/2).
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