Core series help NBC rule ratings

Peacock preening with preem week

The balanced Peacock net, boosted by expanded episodes of its core series, swept premiere week in all key demographic categories as it looks to defend its title as the top-rated network among young adults.

According to Nielsen, NBC has captured the Sept. 22-28 frame in the coveted adults 18-49 demo with a 5.1 rating/14 share, easily topping second-place ABC’s 4.1/12 for the largest opening-week advantage for any net in four years (24%).

Net also won in categories such as adults 25-54 and persons 12-34, while CBS topped in total viewers.

ABC was the only net showing year-to-year gains, though (up 8% in 18-49), as the six broadcast nets collectively fell 4 shares below their total of last season’s premiere week (52 vs. 56), which included bigger numbers for openers like “Friends,” “CSI: Miami” and “Alias.”

Compared with last year, Fox was down 16% year-to-year, CBS was off by 15% (and 9% in 25-54) due in part to an NFL overrun last season, and NBC by 6%. Biggest losses were reserved for the netlets, with the WB off by 21% (in part due to no “Smallville” yet) and UPN by 17%.

For ABC, new Friday comedy “Hope & Faith” (4.7/15 in 18-49) easily led its slot, and Tuesday comedy “I’m With Her” (first-place 5.7/16) received great sampling behind “8 Simple Rules” (series best 7.0/21 for the first of the final three episodes featuring the late John Ritter). Returning laffers “According to Jim,” “George Lopez” and “Life With Bonnie” also looked solid.

Among new dramas, however, neither Sunday’s “10-8” nor Thursday’s “Threat Matrix” has done much out of the box.

While NBC didn’t deliver any jaw-dropping numbers for its premieres last week, five of its returning series (among those in the same timeslot) showed year-to-year 18-49 growth (“Fear Factor,” “Ed,” “Law & Order,” “Law & Order: CI” and “Dateline Sunday”) compared with four for ABC (“8 Simple Rules,” “The Bachelor,” “Primetime” and “20/20”) and none for CBS.

The Eye net, on the other hand, is probably enjoying the best overall early results with its new skeins (Daily Variety, Sept. 29), led by “Joan of Arcadia,” whose 14 share in 18-49 is the best for any premiering 8 o’clock drama on any net in two years. Friday’s “The Handler” and Sunday’s “Cold Case” also opened with nice year-to-year gains for the net in both 18-49 and 25-54.

Monday laffer “Two and a Half Men” opened big but came back to earth in its second try (see below), and Wednesday drama “The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H.” looked weak.

Overall, NBC and CBS split bragging rights over the week’s top new shows last week.

In 18-49, Peacock claimed the highest-rated two premiering dramas (“Las Vegas” and “The Lyon’s Den”) and No. 1 new comedy (“Coupling”). In overall audience, the Eye accounted for the four most-watched new dramas (“Cold Case,” “Joan of Arcadia,” “Navy NCIS” and “The Handler”) and the most popular new laffer (“Two and a Half Men”).

Among all shows, NBC’s three Thursday biggies — “Friends,” “ER” and “Will & Grace” — led the frame in 18-49, while the fourth-season preem of CBS drama “CSI” ranked as the week’s most-watched program overall (26.91 million viewers).

Fox was largely on the sidelines last week and is getting no help from Friday’s lineup of “Wanda at Large,” “Luis” and “Boston Public.”

The WB, whose new “One Tree Hill” and returning “Gilmore Girls” looked shaky on Tuesday (defeated by UPN in adults 18-34), finished the week strongly with a two-hour season preem for “Charmed.”

The sixth-year preem of the bewitching series was the evening’s top-rated program among femmes 12-34 (4.7/13) and finished second in its 8 o’clock slot in adults 18-34 (3.4/10) — ahead of drama preems “10-8” and “Cold Case” and the best delivery ever for a WB skein on a Sunday.

With the “Charmed” surge, the WB edged out UPN for the week in 18-34 (1.7/5 vs. 1.6/5), with both nets down about 20% year-to-year.

UPN received a second perky perf from new laffer “All of Us” on Tuesday (2.3/7 in 18-34), but Wednesday drama “Jake 2.0” is struggling (0.8/2 in 18-34). On Monday, second-year comedy “Half & Half” hit a series high in 18-34 (2.6/7), coming out of “Girlfriends,” which itself posted its best delivery in more than two years (2.8/8).

* * *

On Monday of the current week, a rivalry football matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears was the top draw on Monday, helping ABC score a victory in young adults.

CBS took the night in total viewers, although new comedy “Two and a Half Men” didn’t look quite as strong in its second week.

Due to Nielsen processing delays, all ratings are preliminary, but “Monday Night Football” averaged a strong 6.9/17 in adults 18-49 and dominated the night in all key male demos.

At CBS, “Everybody Loves Raymond” (6.3/15 in adults 18-49, 20.3 million viewers overall) again led the way, with new comedy “Two and a Half Men” (5.0/12 in adults 18-49, 16.3 million viewers overall) retaining about 80% of “Raymond’s” 18-49 aud — down from 90% last week. At 10, “CSI: Miami” (5.7/15 in 18-49, 17.6m) was second to football in 18-49.

NBC led from 8 to 9 with “Fear Factor” (5.2/15 in 18-49, 12.5m) and remained solid from 9 to 11 with “Las Vegas” (4.3/10 in 18-49) and the season preem of “Third Watch” (4.1/10, 11.1m).

Fox was not competitive with the two-hour finale of “Temptation Island” (2.5/6 in 18-49, 5.3m).

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