Brought Down to Earth: Steep Demo Decline for ABC's 'V'

Rash Report: CBS Retakes the Hour, and the Night, but ABC a Strong Second

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MINNEAPOLIS ( -- Alien invaders repelled! "War of the Worlds"? No, that anniversary just passed on Halloween. More like a war of audience attrition -- as happens with so many sci-fi serials -- for ABC's "V," whose program premiere last week was the highest rated of the new season.

'V' Credit: ABC
Last night "V" tumbled 27% to a 3.8/10 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic. That tied it with NBC's two hour "Biggest Loser," but CBS's "NCIS" took back the hour, as its 4.4/12 was the highest-rated show of the night.

And CBS took back the night's overall leadership as well, with an overall first-place 3.6/10. "NCIS: Los Angeles," the new Tuesday drama that had the media mojo before "V's" victory last week, locked up a 3.7/9, which is two tenths of a ratings point below its season to date average. And at 10 p.m. "The Good Wife" (2.8/8) continued its great run as a freshman series, once again winning the hour, just a tenth of a ratings point below its season-to-date original episode average.

Despite the demo drop for "V," it still is formidable, at least compared to reality rejects such as "Shark Tank," which previously ran in the timeslot. And like other sci-fi series, including ABC's own "Lost" and "FlashForward," as well as NBC's "Heroes," serialized sci-fi often sees ratings rise once DVR data is accounted for. But the sci-fi subgenre has a hard time holding viewers -- witness today's cancellation of Fox's "Dollhouse" -- as the serialized, intricate plotlines shed samplers until there remains a core audience.

But it appears that at least some of that evolving core audience may have stuck around for the next two hours of ABC's prime-time schedule, which helped the network tie NBC for second place with a 3.2/9. "Dancing with the Stars" results show (3.5/9) hit a season high, and a country crooner special, "In the Spotlight with Robin Roberts: Bright Lights, Big Stars, All Access Nashville" delivered a 2.3/6, which was 21% better than last week's "The Forgotten," the usual timeslot occupant.

Fox finished fourth, with a two hour "So You Think You Can Dance" (2.3/6) just a tenth of a ratings point below last week. That left last for the CW (.9/2), with "90210" (1.2/3) matching its season high, while "Melrose Place" (.7/2) matched its original episode season low.

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

As for NBC, "The Biggest Loser" (3.8/10) gained two-tenths of a ratings point above its average. And Jay Leno, the late-night king who has often looked alien during this season's invasion to prime-time, didn't repel, but actually attracted more viewers to his much talked about talk show, as his 1.9/5 was 58% higher than the season low the night before.

Wednesday: Music TV, without MTV: ABC telecasts the CMA Awards. Country not your cup of tea? (Or can of beer?) Then get your music fix on Fox's "Glee."
Thursday: Fan of police procedurals? DVR CBS's "CSI" and opt for the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, in 1954's "Dial M for Murder" on TCM.

Media lore has it that country music's popularity goes up when the economy goes down. If so, expect a good night for ABC's CMA Awards.

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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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