Big numbers for Fox, ABC bowled over by CBS tallies

Eye net wins in viewers, key demo

The Super Bowl wasn't the only program putting up big numbers in primetime last week. Fox's "House" hit an all-time ratings high Tuesday with an average of 27.3 million viewers and an 11.1 rating/27 share in the adults 18-49 demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research.

"House" had a leg up from its 8 p.m. companion "American Idol" (33.7 million, 13.5/33), retaining an impressive percentage of its "Idol" lead-in.

ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" (24.2 million, 10.3/24) also had a big week, with a decisive victory over CBS' "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" (21.5 million, 6.8/16) in the Thursday 8 p.m. slot. "Grey's" delivered its second-highest marks of the season behind only its season opener, and it posted its highest adults 18-34 numbers in a year, since it aired after the 2006 Super Bowl telecast.

Still, not even a turbo-charged "Grey's," two doses of "Idol" and a "House" on fire wasn't enough to prevent CBS from doing an end-zone victory dance for the week ending Feb. 4.

Sunday's telecast of Super Bowl XLI didn't disappoint. The big game, which ended in the Indianapolis Colts' 29-17 victory over the Chicago Bears, averaged 93.2 million viewers and 35.2/70 in adults 18-49 from about 6:27-9:59 p.m. EST. Viewership peaked from 8:30-9 p.m. EST at 98.4 million viewers. CBS researchers estimate that about 139.77 million viewers watched at least some portion of the telecast.

Just as important to CBS, the game provided a showcase for its rising-star drama "Criminal Minds," now in its sophomore year. Starting at 10:26 p.m. EST, the hourlong episode brought in an average of 39.4 million viewers and a 10.0/25 in adults 18-49 — a good if not great performance for post-Super Bowl entertainment programming. Naturally, with those kinds of numbers, CBS dominated the week by a few football fields, averaging 23.9 million viewers and an 8.2/21 in adults 18-49.

Fox came in second with 11.4 million viewers and a 4.6/11 in the key demo. NBC threw in the towel Sunday and ran programming with no commercials in the 8-9 p.m. hour opposite the second-to-last hour of the Super Bowl. The decision to go commercial-free allowed NBC to factor out the 8 p.m. hour (when the combined viewership of ABC and Fox came in at less than 9 million viewers and a whopping 2 share in adults 18-49) from its weekly averages, which undoubtedly went a long way toward NBC elbowing past ABC for third place for the week.

NBC finished with 8.2 million viewers and a 2.8/7 in the demo for the week compared with ABC's 7.4 million and 2.7/7. CW finished with 3 million viewers and a 1.5/4 in its target audience of adults 18-34.

Other highlights for the week included NBC's Monday 9 p.m. anchor "Heroes" (13.6 million, 6.1/14) and the peacock's 8-9 p.m. comedy combo "My Name Is Earl" (10.7 million, 4.5/12) and "The Office" (10.1 million, 5.0/13). Fox's high-octane Monday duo "Prison Break" (9.9 million, 4.1/11) and "24" (14 million, 5.4/12) gave the network bragging rights in adults 18-49 for what has become a highly competitive night this season among NBC, CBS and Fox.