ABC’s summer reality hit Wipeout made a successful transition to winter. The debut last night of Winter Wipeout (3.7/11, 11.6 million) turned the lights on for ABC at 8 PM on Thursday in a big way, finishing No.1 in the hour in adults 18-49, tied with the slot leader CBS. Vs. the show’s most recent summer premiere, last night’s debut was up 19% in the demo. Unlike the idea to spin off reality hit Dancing with the Stars into Skating with the Stars, which was a ratings dud, the decision for a winter-themed edition of Wipeout is proving to be a great one that can solve ABC’s long-standing problem at 8 PM on Thursday. However, the real test for Winter Wipeout will come in 2 weeks when American Idol launches in the slot (along with NBC’s comedies, which are a smaller threat). Otherwise, scripted series continued the encouraging trend this week of returning higher than or even with their most recent originals. At 9 PM, Grey’s Anatomy (4.2/11) was up 5% from its last original on Dec. 2 but, even with the big Winter Wipeout lead-in, it couldn’t beat CBS’ Big Bang Theory for the top demo spot on Thursday. Private Practice (2.8/8) was flat with its Dec. 2 original. With the help of Wipeout, ABC (3.6/10, 10.3 million) won the night in 18-49 over CBS with its best Thursday numbers of the season.
Big Bang (4.4/13, 14 million) was up 10% from its last first-run episode on Dec. 16, while $#*! My Dad Says (2.9/8, 10.9 million) was flat, not getting a bounce from the People’s Choice Award it won on Wednesday. CSI (3.3/9, 14.2 million) was up 10% vs. its last original on Dec. 9, while The Mentalist (3.0/9, 14.8 million) posted a big 25% rebound from its series low on Dec. 9 and was once again the most watched program on Thursday. CBS (3.4/9, 13.8 million) was second in 18-49 and first in viewers, posting its largest audience on the night this season.
Fox’s Million Money Drop (1.4/4) inched up a tenth from its Tuesday broadcast at 9 PM. It was followed by a Bones repeats (1.0/3). NBC aired 3 hours of comedy repeats led by The Office (1.7/5) at 9 PM.
Meanwhile, ABC got more good ratings news this morning. The final numbers for Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rocking Eve with Ryan Seacrest came in, and the first part of the broadcast from 11:30PM-12:30AM hit a five-year high, averaging 18.8 million viewers and a 6.2/23 in 18-49 and outdelivering its competition combined.