Blood and Guts: 'Vampire Diaries,' NFL Start Strong

Rash Report: CW Premiere and NBC Sunday Night Football Both 'Most Watched'

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MINNEAPOLIS ( -- Athletic, aggressive young men -- whose actions sometimes leave those who cross their path bloodied -- would seem to appeal to the same demographic. But not last night, as the gender gap became a gulf between NBC and the CW, with NBC's tough guys, kicking off of the NFL season, competing against the bad boys in the program premiere of the CW's "Vampire Diaries."

'Vampire Diaries'
'Vampire Diaries' Credit: Quantrell Colbert/The CW
No matter. An audience was found for each last night, as the Thursday night NFL kickoff was the most watched ever, according to NBC, and "The Vampire Diaries" was the most watched series starter ever on the CW.

While it was expected, the big game scored big and easily won the night with an 8.6/25 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic. Perhaps the bigger story was the lower-rated, but still strong start in the demo for "The Vampire Diaries."

Even beyond the media metric most commonly used in negotiations, it was the gender (and to some degree the generation) gap that told the real story of the night. "NBC Sunday Night Football" (yeah, I know, played on a Thursday, which kind of sounds like The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim baseball team or "Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday") averaged a 69/31 male/female gender split in the demo, which was nearly the inverse for "The Vampire Diaries," as two thirds in the demo watching were women.

Teen girls -- which have taken to the vampire craze like zombies -- created an even more significant split, as the NFL had an 80/20 boy/girl teen ratio, compared to a 38/62 for "The Vampire Diaries," which in delivering a 3.5/14 teen girl rating and share was the most watched show in that demo on TV last night.

Rash grids

See how all the shows did in the ratings.
Overall, NBC finished first with a 7.7/23, as the "NFL Opening Kickoff" pre-game show from 8-8:30 p.m. delivered a 3.2/11. This was up more than four times last year's season preview, which had to be moved to Friday because of last year's coverage of the Republican National Convention. Last year's season opener did play on a Thursday, but was moved 90 minutes earlier to accommodate convention coverage, so the 62% spike for this year's game is skewed.

But the big numbers suggest that while the league may struggle with blackouts in some markets, the reason for them -- the Great Recession -- is set to keep many in front of their sets, which should mean some big NFL numbers in the months to come.

What the months to come mean for the CW is less clear, although "Vampire" bit off 17% more in the demo than the season premiere of "Smallville," which ran in the timeslot last year.

But "Vampire's" lead-in, "Supernatural," was down 18% from its season start last fall, although up 8% from its full season average.

As for most other competing content, it wasn't a story of gender or generation, but gone, as viewers deserted reruns on Fox, ABC and except for "Big Brother," CBS.

Fox fell to fourth with a 1.2/3, just above ABC's fifth place 1.1/3 for its repeats. CBS did a bit better with an overall second place 1.9/6, but needed the time vampires of thrice weekly "Big Brother" (2.6/8) to beat the "Vampire-led" CW, which just missed second place, finishing third with a 1.8/5 in a demo it deems less relevant than its broadcast brethren.

Which just proves that with the right content, the network need not be content with finishing fifth, as it does most nights.

Friday: Like newsmagazines? There are new episodes of NBC's "Dateline" and ABC's "20/20." Like news? Watch the weekly wrap-up on PBS's "News Hour with Jim Lehrer."
Saturday: Looking for a good Saturday night drama? Forget reruns – that is unless Serena Williams gets in the U.S. Open Finals and tries to repeat last year's victory. CBS. 8 p.m.
Sunday: Football fever, as most of the rest of the NFL teams kick off on its regular day, highlighted by a nighttime game between the classic NFL rivalry of the Chicago Bears vs. the Green Bay Packers on NBC's "Sunday Night Football."

Guys like Hank Hill will probably be watching the Bears and Packers on NBC, so how many will slip away to watch the series finale of "King of the Hill" on Fox?

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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

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