MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- America's obsession with age played out on-screen, and in front of it, Wednesday night.
At 9 p.m., for instance, ABC sitcom "Modern Family," whose paternal protagonist cluelessly claims to be a "cool dad," runs right into "Cougar Town," in which the comely Courteney Cox tries to convince viewers that at 40-something, she's insecure about her sex appeal.
Each has been given full-season orders, which is justified by their demo delivery with ad-centric adults 18-49. Last night "Modern Family" delivered a 3.4/9 rating and share, a bit above "Cougar Town's" 3.1/8.
But these ratings are down 19% and 29%, respectively, from their dazzling demo debuts five weeks ago. And they basically tied Fox's "Glee" (3.3/8), which was just two-tenths of a ratings point off this fall's first show.
The difference? Teens on-screen and young adults in front of it. Indeed, May-December relationships may be the premise of "Cougar Town," but this October the "Mays" are choosing "Glee," which belted out a 3.6/10 adult 18-34 rating and share, compared to "Cougar Town's" 2.6/7. And with "Decembers" -- viewers 25-54 who make up the bulk of primetime's core audience -- it was actually CBS's "Criminal Minds" that won, with a 5.0/12. And it did well with the key adult 18-49 demo as well, winning the timeslot with a 3.8/10. Fourth in the hour was NBC's "Law and Order: SVU" (2.8/7) and fifth was a rerun of a show pitched to "Mays" (or in the CW's case, maybe those born in March) but more pertinent to contemporaries of Courteney Cox, "Melrose Place," which barely registered a .5/1.
At 10 p.m., ABC's cougars continued to prowl, this time with the stars of "Eastwick." But again, despite the relatively racy plotlines, it hit a season low 1.6/4 in the demo and only a 1.4/4 with adults 18-34. This was only 70% of adults 18-34 who watched the hour's winner, the straight-narrative, decidedly un-sexy "CSI: NY," which also won big in the adult 18-49 demo with a 3.0/8. Of course, both beat NBC's "Jay Leno Show," which isn't seeming hip to any age range, as it delivered a 1.5/4 in the demo and a 1.1/3 with adults 18-34.
With CBS's police procedurals locking 'em up from 9-11 p.m., it won the night overall with an adult 18-49 average of a 3.0/8. ABC was second with a 2.2/6, and NBC and the CW finished fourth and fifth with a 2.1/6 and.9/3, respectively.
Second place went to Fox (2.9/8), partly due to the kids kicking it up on "So You Think You Can Dance," which did a demo two-step, delivering a 2.6 rating for both adults 18-49 and 18-34. CBS was second in the hour with "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (2.0/6 in 18-49 but a 1.2/4 with adults 18-34) and "Gary Unmarried" (2.2/6 and 1.3/4). NBC's "Mercy" matched last week's 1.9/6 (1.3/4 with 18- to 34-year-olds) and the ultimate expression of youth (and beauty), the CW's "America's Next Top Model" strutted a 1.4/4 with 18- to 49-year-olds and 1.7/5 with those 18-34.
"Model" just missed fourth place, at least for the first half-hour because on ABC, right before it, 8:30's "The Middle" fell to a series low 2.0/6 (1.5/5 in 18-34). But the lowest-rated Big Four show was Kelsey Grammar's "Hank," in which his character really returns to his youth, or at least his childhood home, after he fails financially. But the youth, or at least younger demos, weren't buying it, as it too fell to a series low 1.5/5 with adults 18-49 and only a 1.1/4 with adults 18-34.
|See how all the shows did in the ratings.|
WHAT TO WATCH:
Thursday: The Philadelphia Phillies will soon try a relative rarity in sports: Repeating as World Series champs. Against which team isn't known yet, but it could be the New York Yankees if they can beat the Los Angeles Angels in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Fox.
Friday: Accessible academia on ABC's 20/20, with a report on the new book "SuperFreakeconomics."
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
A big night for network TV, given the game, "Grey's Anatomy" on ABC, "CSI" on CBS and "The Office" as well as "30 Rock" on NBC.
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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's Compass Media, Minneapolis. For more, see rashreport.com.