The Washington Post

TV Column: CBS pronounces itself the ratings winner

CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” was the season’s No. 1-ranked comedy in overall audience and in the 18-34 age bracket. (Monty Brinton/AP)

Now that Nielsen numbers for last week are finally out, and with the TV season almost over (it officially ends Wednesday night), CBS officially pronounced itself the winner Tuesday, snagging the biggest prime-time audience for the 10th time in the past 11 seasons.

CBS had a hefty 4-million-viewer lead over its closest competitor this season — the largest margin of any network in 24 years.

The network also claimed its first win in 21 years among the 18- to 49-year-old viewers who are the currency of broadcast-TV ad sales.

CBS noted — as did its chief, Les Moonves, last week to advertisers in New York — that the network wins the season even if you remove from audience average the 108.7 million who watched CBS’s Super Bowl broadcast.

Fox, which has the Super Bowl next season, tumbled from first place in the age bracket to second after eight seasons on top. Fox also fell to third among viewers overall, owing in large part to major ratings setbacks for its two singing competition series: “The X Factor” in the fall and “American Idol” in the spring.

In the fallout, one “Idol” judge, Randy Jackson, has already exited; the fate of the three others is unclear; and the show will undergo yet another format “tweaking,” according to network suits.

Meanwhile, Paulina Rubio and Kelly Rowland this week were named to replace Britney Spears and L.A. Reid as judges on “X,” and co-host Khloe Kardashian also is out for next season.

For the first time, CBS’s “NCIS” (21.3 million viewers) is the country’s most-watched program for a TV season, beating even NBC’s Sunday Night Football (21.0 million).

CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” was the season’s No. 1-ranked comedy in overall audience and in the 18-34 age bracket.

CBS also boasted the most watched new series: its Sherlock Holmes update, “Elementary.”

The top-ranked new drama in the key age bracket is Fox’s “The Following.” And the top-ranked new comedy in the age bracket is ABC’s “How to Live With Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life.”

ABC debuted “How to Live with Your Parents” very late in the season, so it never ran any repeat episodes. It also enjoyed the post-“Modern Family” time slot. It also has been canceled.

A tornado moment

One of the more priceless exchanges of this week’s Oklahoma City tornado news coverage happened about 5:35 p.m. Tuesday.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer was interviewing a young woman named Rebecca, whose husband wasn’t home when the tornado hit and who was prepared to ride out the storm with her 19-month-old son, Anders.

Rebecca, who’s from Louisiana, explained that all her Oklahoma-native neighbors and her husband told her to stay in the house because “it never hits anybody.” On Monday, she grabbed a mattress to cover her and Anders and got in the tub, watched on a laptop as the tornado approached — and then, she said, “I just panicked.”

“I’m from Louisiana. We have hurricanes. And when they’re big, you just leave — you know?” she said to Wolf.

“I ran. I ran. I didn’t have any shoes on,” Rebecca continued.

Rebecca got in the car, drove in the opposite direction from the tornado and escaped. She returned to the house about 45 minutes later to see whether her cats had survived, only to find her husband there, searching for her and their son in the rubble that had been their home.

“We just burst into tears. It was awesome,” Rebecca told Wolf.

“Well, you’re blessed. Brian, your husband, is blessed. Anders is blessed. . . . We’re happy you’re here. You guys did a great job and I guess you got to thank the Lord, right?” Wolf wondered.

“Yeah,” Rebecca said, noncommittally.

“Do you thank the Lord for that split-second decision?” Wolf pressed.

“I-I’m-I’m-I’m actually an atheist,” Rebecca responded, apologetically.

“You are? All right, don’t thank the Lord,” said Wolf.

To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to



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