CBS continues to dominate the Tuesday night ratings, so how can the network keep things interesting? By setting more records! For the second time this season, the six-year-old NCIS has logged an all-time series best in total viewers, according to overnight data. Last night’s original episode was seen by 19.9 million people–6 percent more than the number of folks who tuned in for the previous record breaker (18.7 million on Nov. 11). NCIS benefited from Fox’s airing of a House repeat (its 6.4 million viewers was less than half of last week’s audience). But NBC offered some fresh competition with the season finale of The Biggest Loser: Families, which nabbed its biggest audience since the Biggest Loser 3 finale in December ’06. (The reality show installment was also the No. 1 program of the night among adults 18-49.) As usual, Loser‘s crowd grew over the course of its 120 minutes, from 9.8 million to 13 million, averaging 11.7 million.
Moving on to 9 p.m., CBS’ freshman hit The Mentalist set another season high with 19.3 million viewers–the Eye’s largest audience in that time slot for a first-run regularly scheduled program since 1995. The show faced a repeat of Fringe on Fox (4.9 million), but stared down the second hour of the Biggest Loser finale. ABC offered up one new episode of According to Jim (with guest star Steve Guttenberg) and one Jim repeat to average 4.8 million for the hour. (That’s a 42 percent drop from its lead-in, a repeat of A Charlie Brown Christmas, to which 8.3 million people tuned in.)
If these preliminary numbers hold, CBS will have finished off the night with a season high for Without a Trace as well. With 14.5 million viewers, it handily defeated the premiere of NBC’s latest reality show, Momma’s Boys (6.1 million), and another lame-duck episode of ABC’s Eli Stone (5 million).
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