MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- St. Patrick's Day revelry may explain why Tuesday's viewers disappeared. But it was the networks that had hangovers Wednesday, as most shows again fell short of their original-episode season averages.
This was particularly true for two new shows that had the same old results, as neither ABC's program premiere of "Better Off Ted" nor week two of NBC's "Chopping Block" could cut too deeply into Fox's "American Idol," which once again was the top rated show of the night with an 8.7/21 rating and share in the ad-centric 18-to-49 demographic. Coupled with 8 p.m.'s "Lie to Me" (3.1/10), which also won its time slot, Fox easily finished first with an overall 5.9/16, well ahead of CBS (2.9/8), ABC (2.8/8), NBC (1.6/4) and the CW (1.1/3).
While "Idol" was off 10% from its season average and "Lie to Me" fell 9% from its time period debut last week, it wasn't due to new programming. "Chopping Block" (1.2/4) cut 14% from its already low premiere last week, and "Ted" (2.1/6), which although nearly matched lead-in "Scrubs" (2.2/7) ratings, was ABC's lowest-rated sitcom premiere this year. Ratings results for both "Chopping Block" and "Better off Ted" suggest neither is likely to last beyond its spring season finale.
Not that well-established NBC shows performed much better. "Law and Order," which premièred in 1990, was down 9% from its original-episode average to a 2.1/6. And last year's "Life" slipped 17% to a 1.5/4.
The big worry at CBS shouldn't just be losing to "Lie to Me," but that the network's "Gary Unmarried" (2.2/6) was just a 10th of a rating point above "Better off Ted." And ABC's "Scrubs" actually beat "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (2.1/7). Ratings were higher -- but still down -- for "Criminal Minds" (eliminating 11% of its average by delivering a 3.3/8) at 9 p.m. and "CSI: NY" (3.3/9), which won at 10 p.m. but lost 6% of its regular viewers.
As for ABC, it finished second at 9 p.m. with its hit "Lost," but it also lost 10% of its viewers as it delivered a season low 4.3/11. And although 10 p.m.'s "Life on Mars" (1.8/5) matched its original-episode average, the already-canceled show was last in its time slot.
And even on a night when the CW's young female audience would be expected to be taking a night off from revelry and switch to the rivalries amongst the "America's Next Top Model" contestants, the reality show fell 6% from its season average to a 1.7/5. But that was still quadruple the .4/1 for (yet another) "90210" rerun.
WHAT TO WATCH:
Thursday: March Madness begins on CBS! Mad about wall-to-wall basketball? No worries: ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" and "Private Practice," as well as NBC's "The Office" and "30 Rock," are all first run.
Friday: Keep the hoop hysteria as long as you can, especially against Friday-night network prime time.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
With last Sunday's "NCAA Selection Show" hitting a half-decade high, interest seems strong for this year's tournament, which should mean rising ratings.
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NOTE: All ratings based on adults 18-49. A share is a percentage of adults 18-49 who have their TV sets on at a given time. A rating is a percentage of all adults 18-49, whether or not their sets are turned on. For example, a 1.0 rating is 1% of the total U.S. adults 18-49 population with TVs. Ratings quoted in this column are based on live-plus-same-day unless otherwise noted. (Many ad deals have been negotiated on the basis of commercial-minute, live-plus-three-days viewing.)
John Rash is senior VP-director of media analysis for Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis. For more, see rashreport.com.