There are three certainties to be gleaned from the classic Rankin/Bass holiday special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: 1) Bumbles bounce, 2) Santa’s workshop is a hotbed of discrimination and sexism, and 3) nothing drives ratings quite like stop-motion animation.
According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, CBS on Tuesday night banished its broadcast competition to the Island of Misfit Toys, drawing 11.3 million viewers and a 3.0 rating in the adults 18-49 demo with its presentation of the 1964 favorite. Rudolph easily outpaced ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (9.69 million viewers, 2.6 rating) and NBC’s The Biggest Loser (6.61 million/2.0) in the prime time Reindeer Games, while Fox’s Dads (3.18 million/1.2) and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (3.69/1.5) never got off the ground.
Nearly 50 years old [!], Rudolph remains a cautionary tale about otherness and benighted self-interest. (After Santa shames Rudolph for his bright red nose, banishing him from the sleigh team and excoriating Donner for siring the North Pole’s first mutant fawn, the jolly old Capitalist elf later exploits the youngster and his incandescent snout, lashing him to the front of an overloaded sled like some sort of ungulate headlight.)
While Rudolph can’t lay a hoof on regular time slot occupant NCIS’ average deliveries (19.3 million, per live-plus-same-day estimates), the special tied last week’s demo delivery. Moreover, as an anchor, Rudolph went a long way toward giving CBS a tie with ABC for first in prime (2.5).
ABC got a lift as S.H.I.E.L.D. gave way to a special two-hour season finale of Dancing with the Stars (14.8 million viewers, 2.4 in the dollar demo). Also in the hunt was NBC (2.4), which saw The Voice dip 6 percent to a 3.0 rating, while Chicago Fire grew 11 percent to a 2.1.
Fox finished fourth on the night with a 1.5 in the demo, although even a train with square wheels isn’t necessarily a total loss. At 9 p.m., New Girl jumped 12 percent to a 1.9 rating, while The Mindy Project rebounded 17 percent to a 1.4.
Lastly, after a week’s hiatus, The Originals (1.1) on the CW was flat with a 1.1 rating, while veteran lead-out Supernatural improved 22 percent with a 1.1.