Of course Fox swept the night, and of course American Idol was the most watched show of the night, but the most interesting story last night was how ABC’s Inaugural specials beat down NBC’s and CBS’s competitive offerings. ABC went with the more party focused Neighborhood Ball: An Inauguration Celebration which was #2 behind Idol at 8pm, and tops in viewers at 9pm while finishing 3rd behind Fringe and Biggest Loser in the demos. CBS’s more historically focused Change & Challenge: The Inauguration of Barak Obama was embarrassed at 9pm, doing less than half of ABC’s demo in the hour. At 10pm ABC jumped off the party wagon with A Moment in History: The Inauguration of Barak Obama and still easily beat NBC’s The Inauguration of Barack Obama. Too bad for the Mouse that it we elect a president only once in 4 years!

I hesitate to read much into any of the other results for last night. Sure, American Idol was down from last week, but it was up against American President. That won’t happen again. CBS went with reruns at 8 and 10, likely a smart move. Fringe got a nice boost post-Idol, again, on a very unique night. Biggest Loser improved nicely over last week, it could be one of few bright spots for NBC. CW’s 90210 and Privileged got thrashed, but I’ll wait until I see what happens next week, minus the President, to sing a sad song for them.

Full details:

Time Net Show Viewers Live+SD (000) 18-49 Rating 18-49 Share 18-34 Rating 18-34 Share
8:00 FOX American Idol 22,420 9.0 22 8.1 21
ABC Neighborhood Ball: An Inauguration Celebration 12,591 3.5 8 2.9 8
CBS NCIS (repeat) 11,743 2.3 6 1.3 3
NBC Biggest Loser 8,378 3.2 8 2.7 7
UNI Cuidado con el Ángel 5,041 1.9 5 2.0 5
CW 90210 2,395 1.2 3 1.4 4
9:00 ABC Neighborhood Ball: An Inauguration Celebration 12,577 3.9 9 3.5 9
FOX Fringe 12,093 4.7 11 4.0 10
NBC Biggest Loser 12,043 4.8 11 3.9 10
CBS Change & Challenge: The Inauguration of Barak Obama 6,897 1.8 4 1.4 4
UNI Fuego en la Sangre 5,016 2.0 5 2.1 5
CW Privileged 1,657 0.8 2 1.0 2
10:00 CBS The Mentalist (repeat) 10,450 2.6 7 1.7 5
ABC A Moment in History: The Inauguration of Barak Obama 9,466 3.0 7 2.3 6
NBC The Inauguration of Barack Obama 6,187 2.2 6 1.9 5
UNI Aqui y Ahora 3,189 1.3 3 1.3 3

Shows are sorted by viewers in each time slot. Timeslot demo winners are in bold.

Nielsen TV Ratings: ©2008 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved.


Fast Affiliate Ratings: These first national ratings, including demographics, are available at approximately 11 AM (ET) the day after telecast, and are released to subscribing customers daily. These data, from the National People Meter sample, are strictly time-period information, based on the normal broadcast network feed, and include all programming on the affiliated stations, sometimes including network programming, sometimes not. The figures may include stations that did not air the entire network feed, as well as local news breaks or cutaways for local coverage or other programming. Fast Affiliate ratings are not as useful for live programs and are likely to differ significantly from the final results, because the data reflect normal broadcast feed patterns. For example, with a World Series game, Fast Affiliate Ratings would include whatever aired from 8-11PM on affiliates in the Pacific Time Zone, following the live football game, but not game coverage that begins at 5PM PT. The same would be true of Presidential debates as well as live award shows and breaking news reports.

Rating: Estimated percentage of the universe of TV households (or other specified group) tuned to a program in the average minute. Ratings are expressed as a percent.

Share (of Audience): The percent of households (or persons) using television who are tuned to a specific program, station or network in a specific area at a specific time. (See also, Rating, which represents tuning or viewing as a percent of the entire population being measured.)

Time Shifted Viewing – Program ratings for national sources are produced in three streams of data – Live, Live+Same Day (Live+SD) and Live+7 Day. Time shifted figures account for incremental viewing that takes place with DVRs which are currently in approximately 24.4% of all U.S. TV households. Live+Same Day (Live+SD) include viewing during the same broadcast day as the original telecast, with a cut-off of 3:00AM local time when meters transmit daily viewing to Nielsen for processing. Live+7 Day ratings include incremental viewing that takes place during the 7 days following a telecast.

For more information see Numbers 101.

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