Just Like Old Times: Scripted Fare Wins TV Ratings

Rash Report: Networks Get Big Boost From Dramas, Sitcoms on Monday

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- It's been a year -- a decade -- for reality TV. But at least for one night, it was back to TV's original oeuvres, as sitcoms and dramas on CBS and Fox tied for first with a 4.1/11 rating and share in the ad-centric 18-to-49 demographic. ABC, which had Monday's only reality show, "Dancing With the Stars," was third, with a 3.4/9, while NBC (2.8/7) and the CW (0.4/1), which also depend on dramas, finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

'Two and a Half Men'
'Two and a Half Men' Credit: CBS
CBS led from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., as "Two and a Half Men" (5.3/13), the night's highest-rated program, and "Rules of Engagement" (4.0/10) were slightly above their original-episode season averages. At 10 p.m. "CSI: Miami" (3.7/10) was down 10% but still easily won its time slot.

CBS's first-hour comedies, "The Big Bang Theory" (3.9/11) and "How I Met Your Mother" (4.1/11), also hit their averages but couldn't top Fox's "House" (4.5/12), even though the hit drama took a 15% audience hit from its original-episode season average. Lead-out "24," conversely, kept its adrenaline-hooked viewers and notched a 3.6/9.

Not a good night for all
Of course, despite the abundance of dramas and sitcoms, it wasn't necessarily a good night for all of the networks. The CW's intended demo of young women continued to be rerun-averse, as second showings of "Gossip Girl" and "One Tree Hill" drew only a 0.4/1.

Even though NBC had original episodes, it faced the continuing problem of once-promising drama "Heroes" fading, as a 3.3/8 was only 89% of its season average. "Heroes" lead-in "Chuck" (2.3/6) and lead-out "Medium" (2.7/7) were more stable, indexing at 96% and 108%, respectively, but still far behind CBS and Fox.

As for ABC's new series, the sitcom "Surviving Suburbia" and drama "Castle" both had negative nights, with "Suburbia" delivering 13% fewer viewers than last week's premiere and "Castle" falling to a series-low 1.9/5.

But overall, scripted series held their own against reality, both in scheduling and delivery. Indeed, ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" was itself tripped up, dropping 12% to a season-low, albeit still healthy, 4.6/12.

Tuesday: PBS's "Frontline" promises to offer an intriguing look at how hard it is to win hearts and minds in hot spots Afghanistan and Pakistan, with "Children of the Taliban." And ABC is the yin to PBS's yang with the return of Jim Belushi in "According to Jim."

Wednesday: With CBS's police procedurals "Criminal Minds" and "CSI: NY" in repeats, those who want to watch cops 'n' robbers dramas can turn to a classic, "Double Indemnity" on TCM, or a series in its second week, "The Unusuals" on ABC).

Ratings for "According to Jim." The fact that it's back indicates that ABC -- like all networks -- is still struggling with sitcom development.

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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.

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