So like most typical guys, President-elect Obama may have a tough time choosing between comics and sports on Monday night, as NBC's "Heroes," the drama that plays like a comic book, runs up against ESPN's "Monday Night Football." If he wants to be in line with the majority, however, he should pick the football.
While Monday night's duel between the Phoenix Cardinals and San Francisco Giants scored a 4.6/12, NBC's breakthrough series has broken down in the ratings, which led to two co-executive producers being fired. Season-to-date, "Heroes" is down 17% from the same point last year in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic and off nearly 28% from its dazzling debut in fall 2006. Last night's episode delivered a 3.6/8, which was down 18% from this season's already low average.
Stronger than most
"Heroes," however, was NBC's highest-rated Monday series, as two shows that also have male leads, "Chuck" (Zachary Levi) and "My Own Worst Enemy" (Christian Slater) failed to perform well as bookends, with "Chuck" down 4% to a 2.4/6 and "My Own Worst Enemy" having its own worst week with a 1.8/5. Overall, NBC finished third with a 2.6/6.
Meanwhile, CBS's "Two and a Half Men" notched a 4.9/11, and another show in the 9 p.m. hour designed to appeal to men, Fox's "Prison Break," delivered a 2.2/5.
NBC isn't the only network that curiously schedules guy sci-fi and drama against the NFL: Fox's "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" (2.0/5) finished fourth at 8 p.m., the same position of the network overall (2.1/5).
ABC and the CW, conversely, focus on females, with ABC running the last half-hour of a 90-minute "Dancing with the Stars" (4.2/10) and the CW slightly increasing the 1.5/4 for 8 p.m.'s "Gossip Girl" to a 1.6/4 for program companion "One Tree Hill." The CW finished fifth for the night with an overall 1.5/4, and ABC was second with a 3.4/8, as "Samantha Who?" dipped out of "Dancing" to a 2.9/7, followed by a 2.2/6 for 10 p.m.'s "Boston Legal."
CBS, conversely, cleverly programs male-lead shows with female appeal: "The Big Bang Theory" (3.9/10) had its biggest bang yet this season, as did "How I Met Your Mother" (4.2/10). And even "Worst Week" (2.8/7) belied its title by rising 8% from last week (although it is still 10% below its season-to-date average and usually loses 38% of the adult audience from "Men").
"CSI: Miami" did have one of its worst weeks, however, as it was 12% off its original-episode season average with a 3.7/10. That was enough, however, to beat not only "Worst Enemy" and "Boston Legal" but to give CBS the nightly win with a 3.9/10.
As for "Heroes," maybe what it lacks is what most comic books, not to mention "Monday Night Football" games, have: a clear ending, with a new edition eagerly anticipated. And like the series' Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka), it wouldn't hurt to be able to stop time (or at least move to a non-NFL timeslot).
Short of that, an endorsement by a comic-book-collecting president wouldn't hurt, either; too bad he's too busy doing things like choosing a staff and Cabinet.
WHAT TO WATCH:
Tuesday: Only two new shows could reasonably be called a hit this season. Unfortunately, they run against each other: Fox's "Fringe" and CBS's "The Mentalist" should drive DVR usage higher.
Wednesday: Listening statistics signify that country-music listenership goes up as the economy goes down. So why not start with the "42nd Annual CMA (Country Music Association) Awards" on ABC?
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
The creators of "Eli Stone," ABC's drama about an attorney who has visions, have to wonder what the network's vision for the struggling show is as it considers its midseason scheduling.
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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.