'Wasteland,' 'Realm' bow to low Nielsens

If initial ratings are any indication, rookie dramas “Harsh Realm” and “Wasteland” will have no problem living down to their apocalyptic titles.

The high-profile skeins from producers Chris Carter and Kevin Williamson, respectively, have bowed with alarmingly dismal Nielsen numbers, signaling that viewers’ early season hunger for new hourlong programs may have already been satisfied.

On the flip side of the ratings coin, however, CBS’ new sitcom “Love & Money” has bucked the weak weekend-premiere trend, joining the Eye’s Friday schedule with encouraging numbers.

These latest Nielsens reinforce some of the fall’s emerging trends — CBS continues to solidify its schedule with an overachieving freshman class, ABC is still searching for traction as its rookies generate mixed results, and fading Fox, which may have miscalculated by holding back some of its hit series until later in the season, just can’t get viewers excited about anything new in its arsenal.

“Realm” bowed Friday with a total of 7.47 million viewers, according to preliminary Nielsens, placing the new drama fourth for the 9-10 p.m. hour despite a first-place lead-in. Among adults 18-49, “Realm” scored a 3.8 rating, 11 share, which will probably translate to a third- or fourth-place finish when Nielsen updates these prelim numbers today.

While up solidly vs. Fox’s demo averages in the time period last season, “Realm” was way down from its lead-in, “Shocking Behavior 2: Caught on Tape” (10.81 million viewers, 5.0/17 in adults 18-49, Fox’s best numbers in that slot in more than two years). “Realm” also failed to approach results for the most recent Carter premiere in that time period, “Millennium” (17.72 million viewers and a 9.0/27 in adults 18-49 with its 1996 debut).

Compared with “Millenium’s” mediocre year-ago season premiere (7.75 million, 3.6/12 in adults 18-49), “Realm” roughly broke even.

While ABC pointed to some encouraging young femme results, “Wasteland” still got wasted, landing fifth for its hour in total viewers (with 6.5 million) and fourth in adults 18-49 (3.2/8). That meager lead-in sent the new “20/20 Downtown” (6.39 million, 2.5/6 in adults 18-49) to what’s apparently the newsmag’s worst numbers ever for a regular-slot nonholiday telecast. ABC did make some target-demo progress with “Wasteland,” finishing second for the hour in adults 18-34, up 57% vs. last season’s slot average (3.6/9 vs. 2.3/7).

Also on Thursday, UPN’s “WWF Smackdown!” hit best-yet viewer numbers (6.89 million).

On Friday, CBS’ “Love & Money” (9.95 million, 2.9/10 in adults 18-49) at 8:30 p.m. built by a promising 7% on its 18-49 lead-in, while the WB’s “Mission Hill” (2.1/4 in households in Nielsen’s metered markets) couldn’t keep pace with the rest of that netlet’s Friday lineup (2.9/5 from 8:30-10 p.m.).

NBC dominated Thursday as usual, but sank 20% vs. the same night last year in adults 18-49. At 9:30 p.m., “Stark Raving Mad” (17.58 million, 8.9/22 in adults 18-49) retained a credible 90% of its “Frasier” lead-in.

The WB’s revamped Thursday is looking good, with “Charmed” up 9% vs. last week (6.1/9 vs. a 5.6/8 in overnight households — WB nationals are delayed as Nielsen adjusts to superstation WGN’s discontinuation of its WB affiliation). At 8 p.m., “Popular” slipped by a modest 3% compared with its first Thursday try (3.7/7 vs. 3.8/6).

ABC showed Nielsen leadership Saturday, as its three-hour rerun of “Executive Decision” (a prelim 9.70 million, 3.9/12 in adults 18-49) led the night’s 18-49 standings with a 50% increase over the Alphabet’s average of the previous two Saturdays. CBS prevailed in viewers.

Each adults 18-49 rating point reps 1.24 million viewers, 1% of the U.S. total. The share is a similar percentage, but measured against only the viewers watching TV during the timeslot involved.

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