TV Column: 'Rudolph' second in week's winners

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 7, 2010; 10:15 PM

A red-nosed reindeer, an undies parade, an "NCIS" rerun - and, of course, those zombies - were high on America's Must See lists as holiday-viewing season began in earnest. Fa la la la la la . . . .

Here's a look at the week's winners and losers:


"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." More than 12 million people - including 2.5 million 2-to-11-year-olds - made the 46th-anniversary broadcast of the animated holiday special the week's second-most-watched scripted show. Only a rerun of "NCIS" did better, averaging more than 15.1 million viewers for reasons we cannot explain. We choose instead to focus on the fact that Rudolph With His Nose So Bright attracted twice as many viewers as the season finale of AMC's zombie saga.

"The Walking Dead." Approximately 6 million people caught the first season's finale of AMC's undead stalkers. About 4 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 49 years tuned in. While that's fewer people in that age bracket than watched "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" this year, it's nonetheless a big enough crowd to make the first season of "Walking Dead" the most watched series in that age group in basic cable history. Reminder: 18-to-49-year-olds are, to advertisers, what Justin Bieber is to tweener girls. "It's now obvious that zombies was an unfulfilled need in the American people," FX President John Landgraf said this week in a conference call with TV critics to talk about the cancellation of FX's scruffy cop drama "Terriers."

"The Sing-Off." Back for a second season, NBC's goofy a cappella contest drew an average of nearly 9 million viewers - its biggest audience ever.

"The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show." CBS's annual holiday knickers pageant lured its largest audience since 2003 - nearly 9 million pairs of very wide eyeballs.


"The Hasselhoffs." A pitiful crowd of just 718,000 bothered to catch the unveiling of The Hoff's new A&E reality series. To put this in perspective, the premiere of A&E's other most recent reality series, "Storage Wars" - a sort of storage locker version of "Antiques Roadshow" - clocked 2 million people.

"Skating With the Stars." ABC's accident-prone ice skating competition series took a ratings tumble this past Monday. Just 4.7 million tuned in - and suddenly, last week's second-episode audience of 6.1 million looks good.

"Grammy Nominations Concert." Despite a performance by pouty-lipped, swoosh-browed heartthrob Justin Bieber - and another by PBS's least favorite sex kitten, Katy Perry - the size of the audience that watched this year's "Grammy nominations concert" on CBS plunged by about 20 percent compared with last year, to 5 million viewers. That's also down a troubling 30 percent compared with the nomination-announcing-concert special's debut on CBS in 2008. Those two earlier Grammy nominations concerts had one thing in common: a "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" lead-in. Yes, the Grammys, like Santa's sleigh, need the guiding reindeer.

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