It may have started off as a joke — models prancing down the catwalk in their underwear — but Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show has transcended its status as a voyeuristic spectacle for young men to become a pop culture phenomenon and a formidable franchise for CBS. Last night’s special drew an eye-popping 4.9 rating/12 share in adults 18-49 and a 5.2/14 in 18-34 at 10 PM, the highest ever for the franchise in both categories. In 18-49, Victoria’s Secret was up a whopping 35% from last year’s telecast. In total viewers, it averaged 10.3 million, the largest audience since the show made its debut on CBS in 2002. In today’s TV universe, where 10 PM viewership levels on the broadcast networks are depressed by DVR viewing and cable competition, such demo ratings are almost unheard of. I can think of only one 10 PM show that has reached such highs in the past year or so, NBC’s The Voice, which aired several 10-11 PM episodes. Overall, Victoria’s Secret posted the best 18-34 rating at 10 PM so far this season and the second best in 18-49 behind the last hour of the CMA Awards, though the difference is only a tenth of a rating point and may be erased in the finals.
CBS aired a bizarre mix of programming last night, running the gamut from kids and toddler favorite Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer at 8 PM to the racy Victoria’s Secret lingerie show at 10 PM, bridged by an NCIS rerun. Rudolph (4.0/11, 12.7 million) was up 3% from last year and ranking as the second highest-rated program of the night in 18-49 behind Victoria’s Secret. The NCIS rerun (2.9/7, 13.4 million) was the most-watched program of the night. CBS (3.8/10, 12.1 million) was No. 1 in 18-49 and total viewers.