This article was updated at 6:08 p.m.
The opening Wednesday of the season was kind to returning series but cruel to newbies, as NBC and ABC dominated the evening.
NBC won its second straight premiere Wednesday among young adults with strong bows from “Ed,” “The West Wing” and “Law & Order,” while ABC was just a tick back behind expanded openers of “My Wife and Kids” and “The Bachelor.”
On the down side, CBS drama “The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H.” was a bust in its bow and UPN drama “Jake 2.0” is looking shaky after declining again in its third week.
NBC’s 6.0/17 in adults 18-49 edged out ABC’s 5.9/16, with the Alphabet just missing its first taste of victory on a premiere Wednesday since the days of “Grace Under Fire” and “Ellen” in 1996.
ABC received strong opening-week perfs from an hourlong “My Wife and Kids” (5.8/17 in adults 18-49, 13.61 million viewers overall) and a two-hour preem for the latest edition of reality skein “The Bachelor” (6.0/16 in adults 18-49, 12.55m).
“Bachelor” remains potent despite declines, placing second to NBC among adults 18-49 in each half-hour while prevailing among the more narrow 18-34 crowd. New drama “Karen Sisco” bows in the 10 o’clock hour next week.
NBC’s “Ed” (4.1/12 in 18-49, 10.72m) improved on its year-ago premiere and placed a solid second at 8, while “West Wing” (6.2/16 in 18-49, 18.32m) led the 9 o’clock hour outright in 18-49 for the first time in nearly a year. After slumping badly last season, “Wing” showed some ratings spunk, improving by 32% on its season finale in May (4.7/11) and attracting its largest overall aud in 18 months.
“Law & Order” closed with a powerful perf, ranking as the highest-rated program of the early season in 18-49 through three nights (7.6/20). It also drew its largest total-viewer count for a season premiere (20.86m) in the show’s 14-year history.
CBS, third in both 18-49 and 25-54, was led by the finale of “Big Brother 4,” whose third-place 4.2/11 in adults 18-49 was on par with its recent scores but well below last year’s finale, which also aired during premiere week (5.6/14).
At 10, David E. Kelley drama “Brotherhood of Poland, N.H.” (2.4/6 in 18-49, 8.3m) ran a distant third in the hour in 18-49, coming in below the preem of the short-lived “Presidio Med” and “Wolf Lake” in the hour the past two years.
CBS now has shown double-digit losses on each of the first three nights of the season. Fox, UPN and the WB all joined the Eye in posting significant year-to-year losses Wednesday.
Fox, out of the game with a two-hour edition of “Performing As” (3.0/8 in 18-49, 6.61m), finished fourth.
At UPN, “Star Trek: Enterprise” was up another tick in 18-34 in its third week (1.5/5), but lead-out “Jake 2.0” edged down another tick (0.8/2).
The WB ran sixth with a Hilary Duff spec and a repeat of Tuesday drama “One Tree Hill.” Net’s Wednesday lineup bows next week.