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RATINGS: ‘Lost’ Finds Its Audience, Grows vs. Last Year

It was a great night for network TV, with all the big networks doing well

Ratings for "Lost’s" sixth season finale grew by double digits over last year’s opener.

In what was a great night overall for network TV viewership, the two-hour "Lost" opener drew a 5.6 rating/14 share among adults 18-49 and a little more than 12 million viewers from 9-11 p.m. That’s up 12 percent from last winter’s lowest-ever premiere (5.0) and the best for the series since February 21, 2008.

Airing on a new night, "Lost" held pretty steady during its two-hour run, and actually increased its share of the audience in its final half-hour. The show was boosted by a one-hour recap special, which notched a 4.1/11 from 8-9 p.m.

No doubt "Lost" will lose a little steam in the next few weeks as some viewers decide to time-shift the series or simply give up until returning for the final few episodes in May. But ABC’s ability to reverse ratings gravity with a show in its sixth season, on a new night and opposite both "American Idol" and "The Biggest Loser" has to be considered impressive by all but the most cynical of competitors.

Update: ABC’s Steve McPherson announced Wednesday that "Lost’s" final episode will air on Sunday, May 23, from 9-11 p.m., following an hourlong recap episode at 8.

More "Lost": We recap the recaps

As for said rivals, Tuesday night showed once again that good things happen when networks put their best foot forward, playing their own game rather than worrying about the other guys.

NBC, for example, almost tripled its 10 p.m. ratings vs. last week by dumping the dead-and-(all but)-gone "The Jay Leno Show" for a rescheduled "The Biggest Loser." As TheWrap first reported, the network last week decided to shift its reality franchise from 8-10 to 9-11 p.m. in order to boost lead-in numbers for local stations weary from months of the laggard Leno.

It worked: "Loser" (3.7/9) was virtually flat vs. last week over its two-hour run, but in the 10 p.m. hour, the show brought in nearly three times as many young adults as a typical "Jay Leno Show." Mission accomplished.

Fox, meanwhile, did just fine with "Idol": Its 8.9/23 was pretty much even with last week’s audition hour.

Over at CBS, the "NCIS" juggernaut remains impressive. The original version of the franchise drew a 4.3/11 at 8 p.m. while the Cool J edition notched a respectable (though still fourth place) 3.6/9 in the demo. In overall viewership, CBS was second behind "Idol" at 8 and a dominant first at 9 p.m.

One show dinged by the absence of Leno at 10: "The Good Wife." Its 2.6/7 was down 12 percent from the last original airing of the show back on Jan. 12.

Another show that benefited from no-Jay-at-10: "The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien." Despite being a repeat (of a canceled series!), CO’B notched a 1.0 and nearly tied a first-run "Late Show with David Letterman" (1.1) among adults 18-49 in Nielsen’s 25 metered markets with demo data.

If only the "Lost" guys could script an alternate reality for Coco’s "Tonight" run, one in which "The Jay Leno Show" never crashed into primetime….