All the right moves

NFL football, 'Mentalist' play big in CBS win

The AFC Championship Game and a double shot of freshman hit "The Mentalist" carried the CBS ratings ball past the formidable premiere of Fox's "American Idol" last week in primetime.

The Pittsburgh Steelers- Baltimore Ravens game Sunday was ratings gold for CBS, averaging 40.6 million viewers and a 14.7 rating/36 share in the adults 18-49 demographic. The network continued its winning ways with a special episode of "Mentalist" (16.9 million, 4.9/12) that followed the Steelers' victory, which clinched a spot in the Super Bowl.

Everything else bowed before it, with ABC's "Desperate Housewives" (13.1 million, 4.6/10) down week-over-week against the latter half of the Steelers-Ravens game.

Not that "Idol" was a slouch. The juggernaut singing competition was down compared with previous years but still dominated regular programming, drawing 30.4 million viewers and an 11.7/28 for its premiere Tuesday and 30.3 million viewers and an 11.8/30 on Wednesday. Fox easily won both nights.

CBS' episode of "Mentalist" (18.1 million, 3.8/9) on Tuesday was strong but put up only token resistance against "Idol." NBC's "The Biggest Loser" (8.9 million, 3.3/8) was up 10% week-over-week against "Idol."

CBS and Fox dueled at the start of the week, with Monday's CBS lineup prevailing against "24." The night's top program was "Two and a Half Men" (17.1 million, 5.6/13), while the two-hour "24" scored 12.3 million viewers and a 4.1/10 in adults 18-49.

Thursday belonged to CBS, even with a half-hour delay for network specials on President Bush's farewell address. "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" (24.2 million, 6.6/16) easily defeated ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" (13.1 million, 5.3/12), though they weren't completely head-to-head because of the speech.

For the week ending Sunday, CBS (17 million, 5.0/13) won, followed by Fox (12.8 million, 4.8/12), ABC (6.7 million, 2.4/6), NBC (6.2 million, 1.9/5) and the CW (1.9 million, 0.8/2). (partialdiff)