Reality bows power NBC's win for week


Successful launches of the reality series "American Gladiators," "The Biggest Loser" and "Celebrity Apprentice" as well as a big turnout for an NFL wildcard game drove NBC to an across-the-board victory in the first week of the new year. The win among adults 18-49 is NBC's third straight, the first time the network has accomplished that since September 2004.

"Gladiators," NBC's update of the 1989-96 syndicated athletic competition, scored a 5.9 rating/14 share in the adults 18-49 demographic and 12.1 million viewers overall in its two-hour debut Sunday. That's the highest-rated new series premiere on any network among adults 18-49 this season.

"Gladiators" also ranks as NBC's highest-rated premiere for a new show since "Heroes."

"Gladiators" and the premieres of "Celebrity Apprentice" (4.5/11, 11.1 million), in its return to Thursdays, and the new cycle of "The Biggest Loser" (4.4/10, 10.5 million), which posted the highest-rated "Loser" debut on Tuesday, all ranked in the top 10 for the week among adults 18-49. NBC's NFL coverage of the Jacksonville Jaguars-Pittsburgh Steelers wildcard game Saturday topped the lists in the demo and total viewers.

ABC boasted the highest-rated nonsports offering of the week with the final original episode of "Desperate Housewives" (7.3/16, 19.8 million) on Sunday.

The new ABC drama "Cashmere Mafia" didn't take full advantage of the big numbers for "Housewives." In its debut Sunday following the ladies of Wisteria Lane, "Cashmere" drew a 3.8/9 in 18-49 and 10.6 million viewers overall, down 15% from the season average of "Brothers & Sisters" originals in the time period.

On the unscripted front, ABC had solid season premieres of "Wife Swap" and "Supernanny" on Wednesday. At 10 p.m., "Wife Swap" will be replaced by "Cashmere" this week.

For the week, NBC averaged a 4.2/11 among adults 18-49 and 11.7 million viewers overall. Fox (8.7 million), which aired three BCS Bowl games -- the Allstate Sugar Bowl, Tostitos Bowl and Fed Ex Orange Bowl -- finished second in adults 18-49, followed by ABC (2.7/3, 8.4 million) and CBS (2.3/6, 8.8 million).

MyNetworkTV posted its highest weekly average in all key demos, including adults 18-49, with a repeat of "The World Magic Awards" on Tuesday drawing 2.5 million viewers, the largest audience for a MyNetworkTV program.