MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- Several seasons ago, cable inverted seasonal scheduling by premiering new, Emmy-worthy shows just as broadcast was hanging up a gone fishin' sign after May sweeps.
Along the way, cable created shows that inverted generational assumptions as well, with women of a certain age, such as Kyra Sedgwick and Holly Hunter of TNT's "The Closer" and "Saving Grace," respectively, as well as Glenn Close of FX's "Damages" becoming perennial candidates for Best Actress Emmys. But even though these stars mirror much of network's audience in front of the screen, they were rarely seen on it anymore.
The same thing may be happening to network actors, as well, as evidenced by Monday night's series premiere of "Men of a Certain Age," the new TNT drama starring three former network stars: Ray Romano, Andre Braugher and Scott Bakula.
The lead, Ray Romano, was not only on CBS, but dominated demos with his hit "Everybody Loves Raymond." But now, instead of men of a certain age, it's men of perpetual adolescence that run on "Raymond's" old network Monday nights. Yet in what appears to be a rare win-win, TNT's "Men of a Certain Age" as well as CBS's "Two and a Half Men" and "The Big Bang Theory" had great nights.
"Big Bang" set a series ratings record with a 5.6/13 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic, building on "Two and a Half Men's" season high 5.0/12. Combined with "How I Met Your Mother" (3.5/10), "Accidentally on Purpose" (2.8/7) and "CSI: Miami" (3.7/10), CBS won every hour, as well as the night with an overall 4.1/10.
That was well beyond its network rivals, including two networks at the vanguard of network's youth focus: Fox, which finished second with a 2.3/6 for a two hour "Carrie Underwood Holiday Special," as well as the CW, which finished fifth with "One Tree Hill" and "Gossip Girl" (1.2/3).
ABC (2.0/5) finished third, with its highest rating not from its usual young adult focus, but instead their kids, as "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" delivered a 2.5/7. But after that family moment, fewer viewers stayed for the wrenching family moments of reunited adoptees in "Find My Family," which hit its three-week series low with a 1.5/4. At 10 p.m., "Castle" delivered a 2.1/5, which was 12% below its season-to-date original episode average.
NBC finished fourth with a 1.5/4 by going in the opposite direction from network's youth movement, with reruns of the aging "Law and Order" franchise (the original "Law and Order" at 8 p.m., 1.4/4 and "SVU" at 9 p.m., 1.6/4). Then, the network's man of a certain age, Jay Leno, delivered a 1.4/4 for his 10 p.m. talk show, which itself is not aging well.
|See how all the shows did in the ratings.|
As for TNT's version, "Men of a Certain Age" bowed with cable's third highest rating, a 1.6/4, which was 14% higher than its "Closer" (1.4/3) lead-in. But it was well behind the medium's top rated show, ESPN's "Monday Night Footbal"l (5.3/14), in which the Green Bay Packers -- still rebuilding after their man of a certain age, Brett Favre, left for division rival Minnesota Vikings -- beat the Baltimore Ravens 27-14.
WHAT TO WATCH:
Tuesday: Absurdist sitcom "Better off Ted" has its second-season premiere on ABC. While it's not likely to see season three, it's clearly a better option than the repeats most networks usually slot between sweeps months.
Wednesday: Any list with Lady Gaga and Glenn Beck is bound to be interesting: "Barbara Walters Presents the 10 Most Fascinating People of 2009" on ABC.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
A ratings gain for "The Biggest Loser," which has its season finale on NBC.
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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.