NCIS - Mark Harmon

Better a late bloomer than no bloomers at all. NCIS  proves that.

In its eighth season, the CBS procedural set yet another series high, attracting an audience of 22.85 million viewers, according to Nielsen preliminary ratings. The show beat NBC, ABC, FOX and the CW combined in viewers. It also posted its best rating — a 4.6 — in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49 demographic since Oct. 20, 2009.

Another point of comparison: Some 26.1 million people watched President Barack Obama's prime-time State of the Union address on the big four broadcast networks a week earlier.

After such a booming start to Tuesday's prime time on CBS, the spin-off NCIS: Los Angeles, which followed at 9/8c, pulled in 17.7 million, and The Good Wife garnered 12.1 million viewers at 10/9c.

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Up against NCIS in prime-time's first hour, The Biggest Loser: Couples drew 8.6 million on NBC. A rerun of Fox's Glee was watched by nearly 5 million viewers, and 4.2 million tuned in for a No Ordinary Family repeat on ABC, while One Tree Hill's wedding episode on the CW got 2.4 million (a marked improvement vs. last week's 1.9 million and up 23 percent among women aged 18 to 34).

At 9/8c, Loser gained viewers (9.8 million), while ABC's V — which hit a series low with a 1.7 rating in the 18-to-49 demo — edged the season finale of Fox's Million Dollar Money Drop (5.3 million to 5.2 million). The CW's Hellcats lured 1.8 million.

In prime time's final hour, The Good Wife's also-rans were Parenthood (6.2 million) and Detroit 1-8-7 (5.5 million).