Steady Eye has demos winking

ABC dramas keep pot boiling

ABC’s top dramas remained red-hot, but it was a balanced CBS that captured the fifth week of the primetime season in key demos.

The Eye net placed first or second on six nights during the Oct. 17-23 frame, led by its dominant Thursday sked, its winning Monday lineup and an improved Friday.

That and an NFL overrun on Sunday were enough to lift CBS to victory in adults 18-49 (4.1 rating/11 share) and 25-54 (5.1/12) as well as its usual triumph in total viewers (13.1 million), according to Nielsen.

ABC was a strong second in most categories, including 18-49 (3.9/11), and remained on top in adults 18-34 (3.2/10) for a fifth straight week to start the season — its best showing in this younger demo in 11 years. For the season, the Alphabet is the only net up year-to-year in 18-49 (rising 11% to a first-place 4.2/11).

Baseball-heavy Fox placed third, but that’s a far cry from a year ago when the concluding seventh games of two League Championship Series (including the mega-rated Yankees-Red Sox battle) lifted the net to blockbuster ratings.

And fourth-place NBC was down 11% vs. the same week a year ago, with its Thursday lineup off 27%.

Overall, it was status quo among program rankings, with CBS vet “CSI” the most popular program overall (28.48 million viewers) and ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” No. 1 in adults 18-49 (11.0/24).

Also of note for CBS were 18-49 season highs for “Amazing Race 8” (4.5/11) and “60 Minutes” (4.3/11) while Friday drama “Ghost Whisperer” (2.9/10 in 18-49, 10.55m) bounced back from a subpar perf to win its hour by 3 shares in 18-49 and by 4 shares in 25-54. Psychic drama topped last year’s “Joan of Arcadia” in the same timeslot by 38% in 18-49.

After shoring up the 10 o’clock hour in recent years with crime dramas, CBS is now seeing improvement at 8 p.m., where it’s up on six nights of the week (only Thursday’s “Survivor” is down). Among its early-evening standouts is third-year Tuesday drama “NCIS” (4.3/12 in 18-49, 17.69m), which drew its largest overall aud to date and is up 18% season-to-date vs. last year in 18-49 (4.0/11 to 3.4/9).

ABC has three top-5 dramas in Sunday’s “Desperate Housewives” (11.0/24 in 18-49, 25.22m) and “Grey’s Anatomy” (8.3/20, 18.00m) and Wednesday’s “Lost” (9.3/22, 21.38m), but also received nice contributions from a pair of rookies: Tuesday’s “Commander in Chief” (4.3/11, 16.30m) and Wednesday’s “Invasion” (4.7/12, 11.24m).

“Lost” is the season’s top-rated drama in men 18-49; “Desperate Housewives” in women 18-49; “Invasion” is the highest-rated new drama in 18-49; and “Commander in Chief” is the top rookie drama among the 25-54 crowd and total viewers.

ABC’s dramas are also attracting an upscale aud, according to Nielsen data for the season’s first month.

Five of its hours (“DH,” “Lost,” “Commander,” “Grey’s” and “Boston Legal”) are indexing at 130 or higher among 18-49 viewers earning $100,000 or more, meaning that auds of these shows are 30% or more likely than the average 18-49er to bring home the big bucks — a key selling point for advertisers.

Only two other dramas on any net (NBC’s “West Wing” and “Law & Order”) can make this claim.

ABC also must be pleased by the week-two perf of Wednesday laffer “Freddie” (3.5/9 in 18-49, 8.09m), which again built on its first-place “George Lopez” lead-in (3.0/9, 7.94m).

Third-place Fox aired four nights of baseball, highlighted by Game 2 of the World Series (5.7/14 in 18-49, 17.19m), which ranked No. 10 for the week in 18-49, No. 9 in total viewers and No. 2 in men 18-49.

Wednesday’s sixth and deciding Game 6 of the National League Championship Series between the Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals averaged a solid 4.6/12 in 18-49.

Highlights for NBC included season highs for newbies “E-Ring” (2.8/8 in 18-49, 9.55m) and “Three Wishes” (2.6/8, 8.84m) as well as Thursday’s “The Apprentice 4” (4.9/12. 10.63m). Tuesday’s “My Name is Earl” was again the week’s No. 1 comedy in 18-49 (5.6/14).

The WB and UPN fought to a draw in their target adults 18-34 demo (1.7/5), with the Frog led as usual by its drama lineups on Tuesday and Thursday. Latter night featured more great numbers from “Smallville” on its new night (Daily Variety, Oct. 24).

UPN had a strong Wednesday, with season highs for “America’s Next Top Model” (2.6/7 in 18-49, 5.45m) leading into the top demo results to date for second-year drama “Veronica Mars” (1.4/3, 3.05m).

But you can just about stick a fork in the net’s rookie Tuesday-at-9 sudser “Sex, Love and Secrets” (0.5/1 in 18-49, 1.12m), which slid to 14th place for the hour among adults 18-34 (0.5/1).

USA led the ad-supported cablers for the week in 18-49 (0.89 rating), 25-54 (0.91) and total viewers (2.49 million). Series standouts included Tuesday’s “Nip/Tuck” on FX (2.2/6 in 18-49, 3.84m), the week’s No. 1 cable show in 18-49, and MTV’s “Laguna Beach,” the top cable show in 18-34.

* * *

On Monday of the current week, the entire CBS lineup and Fox’s “Prison Break” hit some season highs, while Lifetime drew a sizable aud for its first-ever multipart movie.

CBS ended ABC’s five-week 18-49 Monday winning streak, edging the Alphabet (5.2 to 5.0) thanks to season-best scores for “CSI: Miami” (6.8/16, 19.94m), “King of Queens” (3.9/10, 11.23m) and “Out of Practice” (4.4/10, 13.09m). Also, “How I Met Your Mother” (3.9/10, 10.89m) and “Two and a Half Men” (5.5/13, 16.77m) matched their season highs in 18-49.

Fox’s “Prison Break” returned from a two-week baseball-dictated hiatus and posted its best delivery yet in 18-49 (4.8/11, 10.12m), opening up some distance on timeslot drama rival “Las Vegas” on NBC (3.8/9, 11.31m).

ABC was solid with “Monday Night Football” (5.8/15 in 18-49, 14.18m) and “Wife Swap” (2.9/8, 7.47m), and Lifetime drew 5.1 million viewers and was the top cable choice on the night in key female demos with “Human Trafficking.” Two-part pic, starring Mira Sorvino and Donald Sutherland, concluded Tuesday.

USA was No. 1 among 18-49 and 25-54 in cable primetime with wrestling’s “Monday Night Raw.”

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