MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- OK. Time to catch collective breaths. Because prime-time premiere week has passed, and most shows have had their season or series broadcast bow. But it's important to remember one week does not a season make (remember NBC's 'big hit' "Joey?" Me neither.)
But two weeks does make a trend, if not a prime-time pattern. So CBS looks like the unlikely big winner so far on Tuesday, as series stalwart "NCIS" and two new shows -- "NCIS: Los Angeles" and "The Good Wife" -- beat rival reality veterans "Dancing with the Stars" on ABC, "Biggest Loser" on NBC as well as "Hell's Kitchen" and "So You Think You Can Dance" on Fox (as well as every other series) to win with total viewers as well as ad-centric adult 18-49 year olds, averaging a 4.0/11 rating and share for the night.
All three held well from their promising premieres last week. "NCIS" set a series high for total viewers, matched last week's series high in the demo (4.8/14) and was once again the highest rated show of the night. Spin-off series "NCIS: Los Angeles" made it seem like a two-hour episode, and thus kept most of "NCIS's" viewers (4.1/11, off 7% from last week). And at 10 p.m. there was total viewer fidelity (and even a tenth of a ratings point beyond that) to "The Good Wife" (3.2/9).
Conversely the other network with relatively new programs, ABC, saw viewers stray. If this keeps up it will keep the network in fourth place, as it was last night with an overall 2.0/6. "Dancing with the Stars" (2.7/7) dipped 23% from last week and seems to have two ratings left feet this fall, as last week's premiere was also off from last year. Lead-in "Shark Tank" (1.5/4) showed why it's a summer series and not fit for fall. And lead-out "The Forgotten" (2.0/5) showed why it may not last past this or the winter season, as it dropped a quarter of its series premiere viewers from last week, and even fell behind NBC's "Jay Leno Show" (2.2/6), which, while off 12% from last week at least was still up 29% over Monday's series low 1.7/4.
"Leno's" lead-in, "Biggest Loser" (3.7/10), packed on 19% more viewers than last week, as overall NBC was second for the night with a 3.2/9.
Fox finished third with a 2.7/8, as unlike ABC's "Shark Tank," two reality series that had summer starts now know no season: "Hell's Kitchen" (3.1/9) was off just a tenth of a ratings point from last week and "So You Think You Can Dance" delivered a 2.4/6.
And on the CW, a pattern has also set in, albeit a fifth place one (1.0/3), as "90210's" 1.1/3 was a tenth of a ratings point higher than last week and "Melrose Place" matched last week's .8/2.
By the way, if you're one of many that missed "Melrose" last night (and based on the ratings, that's likely), you'll have another chance tonight. It will run in place of "The Beautiful Life." And even with that new drama, one week did not a season make. Instead it was two, as by then a prime-time pattern had indicated "The Beautiful Life's" homely ratings weren't going to improve and it became the fall season's first official cancellation.
|See how all the shows did in the ratings.|
WHAT TO WATCH:
Wednesday: The new fall season's most direct attempt to reflect the Great Recession debuts with ABC's "Hank" (Kelsey Grammer as a "master of the universe" mauled by the bear market) and "The Middle" (Patricia Heaton, matriarch of a middle class family in the middle of Indiana).
Thursday: Maybe "Saturday Night Live" should take a cue from its Thursday version, as last week there were as many laughs in half an hour as there were in the 90-minute episode two days later.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
So now that viewers have sated their Courtney Cox curiosity, will they come back to "Cougar Town," which was critically ripped but still won last week's prime-time ratings race?
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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.