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‘Roar’ gets Fox’s Irish up

Fox’s highly promoted firstrun summer series “Roar” got off to a noisy start Monday, winning its hour in homes, adults 18-49 and 25-54, and all key adult male demos.

The test will now be how much of that solid audience “Roar” can hold onto in subsequent airings, particularly without the boost of an “X-Files” lead-in, but Fox has reason to be pleased with “Roar’s” start.

The action-adventure drama, set in fifth-century Ireland, charged to a 7.2 rating, 12 share in households (all figures based on Nielsen data), Fox’s best numbers that hour since the June 2 (“Tombstone”) and the highest rating this summer for a new series premiere.

Fox and its competitors can only wonder how much stronger the “Roar” ratings might have been with a more conventional premiere date. A survey of some recent first-episode ratings for various Fox dramas suggests “Roar” didn’t do too badly even by regular-season standards, which show “Millennium” debuting at 11.9/21; “Space: Above and Beyond” at 9.5/15; “Strange Luck,” 7.3/15; “Profit,” 5.5/9; and “Kindred, the Embraced,” 5.4/9.

Fox’s heavy “Roar” promotion apparently brought some new viewers to the set, since the rate of homes using TV hit its highest level for that slot in four weeks.

In adults 18-49, “Roar” reverberated with a 5.0/15, up 56% over the mostly rerun fare Fox has aired in that slot since the May sweeps, and up 52% over year-ago programming (“So I Married an Axe Murderer”).

Compared with its lead-in, an “X-Files” rerun (5.3/10), “Roar” built by 43% in adults 18-49 and by 36% in homes.

With those gains, Fox led its 8-10 p.m. block in many key demos, including adults 18-49 and 25-54; men 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54; women 18-49 (a tie) and 25-54; and teens. In 8-11 p.m. averages, NBC led the night in homes and adults 18-49 and 25-54.

NBC’s biggest gun, as usual, was “Dateline NBC” (10.3/18), but the net also stood its ground in the 8-10 p.m. battle of femme-appeal sitcoms. NBC prevailed in adults 18-49 (3.9/12 for NBC, 3.2/10 for CBS) while CBS led in households (6.6/12 for CBS, 5.9/11 for NBC).

NBC’s “Suddenly Susan” (5.6/11 in homes), which was looking like a hit at 9:30, cooled a bit in its first try in the 8 p.m. leadoff slot (which is where it’s skedded for the fall). Still, “Susan” won the half-hour in adults 18-49, equaling “Wings’ ” week-earlier 18-49 rating in that slot despite facing tougher competition from Fox’s “X-Files.”

Compared with the same Monday last year, each of the Big Three nets suffered double-digit drops in adults 18-49, NBC by 14%, CBS by 21% and ABC by 24%, while Fox roared to a 43% increase.

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