CBS peaks in bleak season

First major b'cast net to hit positive year-to-year numbers

CBS is in the black.

Following its 12th consecutive weekly victory in total viewers, CBS became the first major broadcast network this season to move into positive year-to-year territory since premiere week.

Through Dec. 21, CBS has averaged 12 million viewers, up 1% from last year. NBC, ABC and Fox are each down 9%.

All of the Big Four are still in the red in the adults 18-49 demo, with CBS closest to breaking even at minus 3%.

CBS has been a bright spot in a gloomy fall broadcast season marred by across-the-board ratings declines.

Led by resurgent Monday comedies and veteran procedural "NCIS" as well as this fall's breakout hit, "The Mentalist," the network has posted year-to-year gains for the past six weeks.

With the broadcast networks airing mostly reruns from Thursday-Sunday last week, five CBS series -- comedies "The Big Bang Theory," "How I Met Your Mother" and "Worst Week" and dramas "NCIS" and "Mentalist" -- registered series highs in viewers, adults 18-49 or both. Veterans "Two and a Half Men" and "Without a Trace" saw their best marks of the season.

CBS, which averaged 11.2 million viewers and a 2.7 rating/8 share in adults 18-49 for the week, had nine of the 10 most-watched programs, including the top two, "NCIS" (20 million viewers) and "Mentalist" (19.3 million).

NBC's "Sunday Night Football" (18.9 million viewers, 6.8/18), the season finale of "The Biggest Loser" (11.8 million, 4.6/12) and "Heroes" (7.9 million, 3.7/9), which inched up to a seven-week high in adults 18-49, were the only non-CBS programs to crack the top 10 in adults 18-49, ranking as No. 1, No. 3 (tied with CBS' "Mother") and No. 10, respectively.

"SNF" and "Loser" lifted NBC to No. 2 for the week among total viewers (7.5 million) and 18-49 (2.6/7).

The big turnout for the "Loser" finale also provided sizable sampling for the preview of NBC's new dating reality series "Momma's Boys" (6 million, 2.5/7), which lost almost half of its "Loser" lead-in.

The highlight for Fox (6.1 million, 2.1/6), which finished third for the week, was the reality series "Secret Millionaire," which did respectable business Wednesday.

Meanwhile, MyNetworkTV's ratings upswing continued with a third weekly win over the CW in total viewers (1.8 million vs. 1.5 million).