Game over for rivals

NBC rules week with record Super Bowl ratings

NBC surged ahead of its competitors last week thanks to airing the most-watched Super Bowl to date and a highly rated special post-Bowl presentation of "The Office."

The network easily captured the top spot, with Sunday's big game climbing in the Nielsen nationals to 98.7 million viewers, overturning last year's record-setting Super Bowl on Fox. The hourlong "Office" special was seen by 22 million viewers after the game and a earned an 11 rating and 28 share among adults 18-49, the biggest viewership for an NBC entertainment series in five years.

NBC also was helped by Tuesday's reality series "The Biggest Loser" (11.1 million, 4.1/10), which posted gains last week despite Fox's powerhouse competitor "American Idol" also growing.

Although Fox was in second place, the network had a strong week. Tuesday's "Idol" (25.5 million, 9.8/24) recovered somewhat from the previous week's dip. Companion series "Fringe" (11.6 million, 4.7/11) enjoyed its second-best rating all season, and "House" (15.7 million, 6.0/15) helped give Fox its highest-rated Monday in two years. The network also premiered "Hell's Kitchen" (10.9 million, 4.8/12) in its competitive new Thursday night slot, down just slightly from last year.

CBS was pushed to third in the demo, led by a highly watched "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" (20.2 million, 5.4/13) on Thursday that showed the series still has legs in the wake of William Petersen's departure. CBS' Tuesday drama "NCIS" (19.2 million, 4.0/10) also performed well.

ABC was a close fourth, topped by the second week of "Lost" (11.2 million, 4.9/12) on Wednesday, holding nearly all of its viewership from its premiere. Monday's "The Bachelor" (10.6 million, 4.0/10) also continued to perform, climbing every week since the show returned last month. (partialdiff)
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