MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- ABC's "Lost" has another cliffhanger. The plot? Well, sure. But twists and turns have defined the drama since it made its debut in 2004. The new cliffhanger: Will it hang on to consistently beat Fox's "Lie to Me"? The program's premiere delivered a 4.9/12 rating and share in the ad-centric 18-to-49 demographic, just behind a 5.0/12 for the two-hour season premiere of "Lost."
Despite coming in second, the media momentum may be with "Lie to Me," as it was the highest-rated series premiere this season. Comparatively, "Lost" lost a quarter of what last year's season-four premiere delivered and is down a third from its season-three premiere in 2006.
Of course, "Lie to Me" was helped by its lead-in, "American Idol," which delivered a 9.6/25. While well ahead of a "Lost" recap show (3.3/9), "Idol" was down 19% compared with last week's Wednesday premiere, which reflects the show's attempt to establish a new "normal" audience level as it enters its eighth season.
Where they ranked
For the night, however, Fox was first, with an overall 7.4/18 compared with ABC's 4.5/11. CBS was third, with a 2.8/7, as every show but "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (2.1/6) underdelivered compared with its original-episode season average. Sitcom "Gary Unmarried" (2.2/5) fell 4%, while dramas "Criminal Minds" (3.4/8) and "CSI: NY" (2.9/7) had steeper slips of 13% and 19%, respectively.
While the CBS sitcoms held up well against "Idol," the young-adult dramas on NBC and the CW didn't fare as well. "Knight Rider" continues to go off course, this week down 25% to a 1.5/4. Meanwhile, there is probably real fear at the CW over the fate of "13: Fear Is Real," as the new series fell to its lowest rating yet, a .5/1. "Fear" was followed by a 9 p.m. "90210" rerun that garnered a .4/1, which was also the network's fifth place average.
NBC finished fourth, with a 1.8/5, as it evaded "Lie to Me" by running a rerun of "Law and Order: SVU" (1.6/4), followed by an original episode of "SVU's" parent program, "Law and Order," which was last in the time slot, with a 2.4/6.
WHAT TO WATCH:
Thursday: The election and inauguration are over, but one political protagonist, Tina Fey, can still be found on NBC's award-winning "30 Rock."
Friday: Ten Oscar nominations today for "Slumdog Millionaire" point out the importance of independent and world cinema. AMC updates one of the premiere film festivals showcasing such work with "AMC News: Sundance Special" at 11 p.m.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
How will ratings hold up for the first full week of CBS's "CSI," with new top cop Laurence Fishburne taking over for William Peterson?
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.