Fox Bets on 'House' for Monday and Wins Big

Rash Report: Beats Season Premieres of 'Dancing with the Stars,' 'Heroes' and CBS Sitcoms

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- OK, so Fox's "House" may not have gone home with the Emmy Sunday night, but Monday night it won what might count even more in Hollywood: the ratings race. The series' two-hour season premiere, which leaped from last year's Tuesday timeslot, jumped 18% over last year in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic, delivering a 6.7/16 rating and share to win a night that used to be split between CBS and ABC.

'House'
'House' Credit: Fox
Both of those networks were competitive, albeit reduced relative to last year, as ABC's two-hour season premiere of "Dancing with the Stars" (4.1/10) had 24% fewer dance partners than last fall's premiere and a third less than last spring's first dance.

CBS, too, lost viewers, although its clearly found its next big hit in "The Big Bang Theory" (4.7/11) which soared 31% above last year's broadcast bow and even over-delivered its lead-in "Two and a Half Men" (4.5/10). More disappointing, however, was the 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. hour, as even Neil Patrick Harris hosting the previous night's Emmys couldn't keep his sitcom "How I Met Your Mother" (3.6/10) from slipping 10% from last year's season premiere. And it's unlikely its critically panned lead-out, "Accidentally on Purpose" (3.3/8) will be in next year's Emmy mix, although commercially it held 92% of its lead-in, which is a good relative retention rate.

At 10 p.m. "CSI: Miami" was also down, losing 17% from last year's debut as it delivered a 4.3/11. Still, that was enough for CBS to win the hour and finish second overall with a 4.1/10. ABC slipped to a third place 3.5/9, mostly because "Castle" (2.3/6) could only hold 56% of its "Dancing" lead-in.

But both "Castle" and "CSI: Miami" beat NBC's "Jay Leno Show" (1.8/5) as in the face of original episodes it fell to a third of last Monday's big primetime premiere. It probably didn't help that the viewers for its lead-in "Heroes" (2.8/7) are more the Jon Stewart than Jay Leno types. That is those who are left, as this year's "Heroes" premiere only delivered 56% of last year's first show, signaling that many have turned the page on the comic book drama.

It's doubtful any of them switched to the CW's dramas, however, as "One Tree Hill" (1.1/3) was off 8% from last week's premiere and there were 29% fewer viewers in the demo whispering about "Gossip Girl" (1.0/2) than last week.

Rash gridsEnlarge
See how all the shows did in the ratings.

Instead, it's more likely that what happened Sunday night happened again on Monday: A lot of guys, many who might have previously watched "Heroes," skipped the new season grid in favor of the new season gridiron, as last night's ESPN's "Monday Night Football" scored a 5.9/15, which made the game the second highest telecast on TV last night.

WHAT TO WATCH:
Tuesday: Three new series have their prime time premieres, including ABC's "The Forgotten" and CBS's "NCIS: Los Angeles." But the best is CBS's "The Good Wife," with Julianna Marguiles as an all-too-familiar public figure, the dignified better half, humiliated by her husband's political, and personal, scandal.
Wednesday: ABC launches its revamped Wednesday night lineup (well at least part of it, as "Hank" and "The Middle" will have to wait a week). In an unusual move, the network screened the full pilot of "Modern Family" and it was worth it, as the bittersweet tale of the ever-developing definition of family is one of the year's best new shows. Lead-out "Cougartown," conversely, was less inspiring, especially as the comedy stretches credulity, including Courtney Cox's character insecure with her looks or secure with her real estate job in the Florida foreclosure epicenter. At 10 p.m. "Eastwick" also seems to get it wrong, including this year's theme: It's vampires, not witches!

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Given the big names and big hype, it won't be surprising if "The Good Wife" prime time premiere beats NBC's "Jay Leno Show." But if it also loses to "The Forgotten," it may begin a string of third place finishes.

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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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