Ratings: Did Supernatural Give Fringe a Scare?

Between Supernanny, Supernatural, a Super Bowl special and Smallville, there was a lotta “super” stuff playing on Friday. But which shows actually put up superlative numbers?

8/7c | CBS’ The Defenders christened its new Friday home with an audience of 8.65 million total viewers, an increase of some 40 percent over its last Wednesday draw. (The freshman series’ 1.3 rating in the coveted 18-49 demo, however, still leaves much to be desired; Kitchen Nightmares led the hour in demos, with a 1.7). NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? hit a series-high 7.3 million viewers.

Smallville returned from its winter break with 2.37 million viewers, its (alas) smallest audience since “Supergirl.”

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9/8c | A CBS special about memorable Super Bowl commercials was the night’s most watched program, tackling 9.6 million total viewers. Placing second in the hour was the first helping of NBC’s Dateline (with 8 million viewers).

Now facing stronger competition, Fringe slipped 6 percent in viewers (to 4.3 mil) and 11 percent in the demo (1.7), where in recent weeks it had been ruling the roost. Supernatural returned from hellatus to 2.28 million viewers, its best audience since November 5.

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10/9c | It was neck-and-neck ‘tween CSI: NY and the second hour of Dateline, with the CBS cop drama squeaking out a win in total viewers (with 9.34 mil) and the newsmag topping the demos (with a 2.2 rating). CSI: NY however enjoyed a 17 percent gain in the demo (2.0) versus its last fresh outing. ABC’s Barbara Walters special placed third on all counts.

What were you watching this Friday night?