If ABC continues to perform this well on Thursdays, the night could drive another $50 million in ad revenue for the network, according to a note issued by Merrill Lynch media analyst Jessica Reif Cohen.
Big night for studios, retailers
Advertisers spent around $2 billion in total last season on Thursday nights (September through May), according to Ad Age analysis of TNS Media Intelligence data. The evening is particularly big for movie studios and retailers looking to drive weekend sales. Kohl's, Victoria's Secret and Paramount were among ABC's major advertisers last night. On average, advertisers last season spent $51.2 million on Thursdays, with CBS taking the biggest portion, $18.9 million. NBC came in second with $15.4 million and ABC eked out a mere $6 million. Fox brought in just $5 million, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
With more ratings points and higher cost-per-thousand rates for the night, ABC could be looking at a big boost. Last year, ABC kicked off Thursday nights with the lackluster "Alias," "Night Stalker" and "Primetime Live." It hasn't been a player on the night for at least a decade. An ABC spokesman said the network is up 9.5 million viewers compared with last year over the same two-week period.
It's going to be a tough fight -- CBS and NBC are still competitive and CBS is still retaining the top spot in total viewers. "Ugly Betty" -- which drew a 4.9 rating/14 share -- was a huge success for the network, but it was beaten by CBS's "Survivor: Cook Islands" in the 18-49 advertiser-coveted demo. "Survivor" drew 16.6 million viewers and a 5.8 rating/16 share, though "Betty" won in women ages 18-49. (Every ratings point represents 1.3 million viewers, while a share refers to the percentage of people watching TV on a given night that had their sets tuned in to a show.)
Better than 'Matlock'?
"Ugly Betty," which aired in the 8 p.m.-9 p.m. hour, was ABC's best-rated scripted show in that time period since April 27, 1995, when the network aired "Matlock." The show also grew its audience in the second half hour.
Nine o'clock newcomer "Grey's" was off slightly from its premiere, but still won the 18-49 demo. The hospital comedy-drama drew 23.3 million total viewers and a 9.4 rating/22 share against CBS's "CSI," which pulled a 7.9 rating/19 share, though CBS topped in total viewers with 23.5 million.
NBC's "ER," no longer facing CBS's "Without a Trace," again won the 10 p.m. hour with 6.1 rating/16 share in the 18-49 demo and 14.2 million viewers overall. ABC's "Six Degrees" came in second with 4.4/12 share and 10.8 million viewers.
CBS's mass appeal
CBS's promising newcomer "Shark," staring James Woods, proved CBS knows how to program for mass audiences better than anyone. The show won in overall viewers, attracting 15.25 million, but came in third in 18- to 49-year-olds (4.4 rating/11 share) behind "ER" and "Six Degrees."
All figures are derived from Nielsen Media Research Fast National live plus same day ratings.