Using Lead-ins, CBS Leads Broadcasters

Rash Report: But ESPN's Monday Night Football Scores Top-Rated Show

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MINNEAPOLIS ( -- While it was always CBS's purpose, "Accidentally on Purpose" may be turning into an accidental success, as the critically-panned CBS sitcom may be a comedic keeper, if not a hit. On Monday night, it tied its series-premiere rating in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic, delivering a 3.3/8 rating and share, which was near full retention of critical darling "How I Met Your Mother" (3.4/9).

'Accidentally on Purpose'
'Accidentally on Purpose' Credit: CBS
If so, it would be just the latest example of Monday night lead-ins creating conditions for lead-outs to become hits on their own right. An hour later, for instance, CBS's "Two and a Half Men -- which benefitted from the protection of former lead-in "Everybody Loves Raymond" -- won its timeslot with a 4.8/12. Nothing if not quick learners, the geeks of "Big Bang Theory" learned the lead-in lesson, adding 10% more viewers by delivering the network's highest rating of the night, a 5.3/13, which matched its season premiere. At 10 p.m., however, "CSI: Miami" cooled to a 3.9/10, but was enough to win its timeslot, and just enough to have CBS finish first with an overall 4.1/10.

CBS's corporate cousin, the CW, also showed the power of lead-ins, as "One Tree Hill" (1.0/3) seems seamless with lead-out "Gossip Girl" (1.1/3).

NBC, conversely, had less audience flow -- and less audience in general -- with its lineup, as "Heroes" (2.5/7), "Trauma" (1.8/4) and "The Jay Leno Show" (1.4/4) combined for a fourth-place 1.9/5.

And third place ABC (3.2/8) had a schedule that was less about lead-ins, and more about lead dancers, as "Dancing with the Stars" (3.6/9) led into "Castle" (2.4/6).

Unlike scripted sitcoms or dramas, sports fans usually don't need lead-ins for big ratings, just lead changes in big games. But Monday night gave both, as a 43-minute overrun of an extra inning, come-from-behind victory by the Los Angeles Angels over the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series scored a 4.4/13 from 8-8:45 p.m. That led into "House" (4.5/11) and "Lie to Me" (2.9/7) to put Fox in second with an overall 3.9/10.

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

But the baseball game was probably a perfect lead-in for Monday's overall winner, "Monday Night Football" (5.5/15) in which, like the Angels, the Denver Broncos came from behind to lead, and win -- which seems fitting for a night defined by lead-ins.

Tuesday: The oncoming Great Recession wasn't a great surprise to some, according to "The Warning," PBS's "Frontline" investigation of last year's money meltdown.
Wednesday: After winning last night on their final swing, the defending World Series winner, The Philadelphia Phillies, try to make this game their final game of The National League Championship Series. The Los Angeles Dodgers, of course, have other plans. TBS.

The ratings race between CBS and the American League Championship Series on Fox, as each appeal to a relatively august audience.

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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

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