'Leno,' 'Loser' Win for NBC

Rash Report: But 'Leno' off 36% in Ad-centric Adult 18-49 Demographic

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- Maybe Michael Moore should have jumped up on stage and protested the top prize going to the Israeli film "Lebanon" at last week's Venice Film Festival. It may not have helped his image, but the controversy may have helped "The Jay Leno Show," as Moore talking about his latest documentary didn't have quite the same sizzle as Kanye West's teary appearance on the program premier the night before did.

NBC
NBC Credit: Jay Leno

And the new "Leno" show didn't have nearly as many viewers either, dropping 36% to a 3.4/9 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic. Still, a third off of such a big program premiere is actually quite respectable retention. And it was enough not just to win, but dominate at 10 p.m., as did lead-in "The Biggest Loser," whose program premiere weighed in at a 3.8/11 to help NBC win overall with a 3.7/10.

To be sure -- and to be fair -- "Leno's" second night was bound to fall from Monday's big bow, and it will take weeks, if not months, for a ratings performance pattern to establish itself. "The Biggest Loser," however, is well-established, having hit hit-status in its last few seasons. So the show can be encouraged that the season premiere was up 19% from last fall's debut, but fell 16% from the spring season opener.

CBS, too, should be encouraged, as the network has developed "Big Brother" into a big hit, at least by summer reality TV standards. Running thrice-weekly, the low cost (albeit low concept) reality show paid demographic dividends all summer, including last night's season finale, which notched a 2.8/8, up 4% from last summer's ender and up 22% from the spring 2008 finale. Coupled with an "NCIS" rerun (2.4/7), CBS was second with a 2.7/8.

Rash grids
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See how all the shows did in the ratings.
Fox and ABC, however, can't be as encouraged as NBC and CBS over their recent reality series. Fox's "More to Love," for instance, shares the plus-sized theme of "Biggest Loser," but not the audience, as its two-hour finale only delivered a 1.7/5 -- which was the same rating and share for another show about a big guy, ABC's "Shaq Vs.," whose finale was only 6% above its summer season average. Still, that was a lot higher than a rerun of "Shark Tank" (1.0/3). At 10 p.m., a special repeat of Barbara Walters' interview with Patrick Swayze delivered a 1.9/5.

As for the CW, its two Tuesday soaps, "90210" (1.2/4) and "Melrose Place" (1.0/3) might benefit, and certainly might not shy away from, some Kanye-like controversy, which would reflect their risqué plotlines. But instead, "90210" held the same digits as last week, and "Melrose" dropped 23% from its program premier a week ago.

WHAT TO WATCH:
Wednesday: Pilots can be promising, only for the story to sputter in the next few episodes. So far, so good for "Glee," as last week's episode two was just as good, if not better than, the pilot. Check out week three on Fox.
Thursday: If you're like most Emmy voters, you may like NBC's sitcom style on Thursday night, with single-camera, non-laugh track comedies. If so, check out the program premiere of "Community," with Chevy Chase as the most-known actor in a comedy about community college. It doesn't hit the highs of perennial Emmy nominees "30 Rock and "The Office," but instead is more like the uneven "Parks and Recreation." But it's worth a look, especially at a time when community-college enrollment has hit an all-time high.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
How many viewers will sashay from watching the catwalks on "America's Next Top Model" to "The Beautiful Life," the CW series premiering tonight that is also about molding models?

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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.

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