ABC strong out of the gate

Net logs second demo win

ABC remains the story of the young television season, winning for a second straight week in key demo categories behind “Desperate Housewives,” “Lost” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

While CBS is solid, Fox is improving but still behind the pack without “American Idol” and NBC has been unable to stop the bleeding, the Alphabet has captured the first two weeks in the industry’s important 18-49 demo for the first time in 11 years.

And it did so with a more typical sked than premiere week. In addition to its three megahit dramas, Alphabet saw a nice start for “Commander in Chief,” credible numbers for new drama “Night Stalker” and winning ratings for “Invasion,” despite week-two declines.

Also, Sunday’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” has become television’s top-rated reality series of the fall, overtaking NBC’s “The Apprentice” and CBS’ “Survivor.”

Overall, according to in-home viewing estimates by Nielsen Media Research, ABC captured the week of Sept. 26-Oct. 2 in adults 18-49 with a 4.1 rating/11 share, followed by CBS (3.8/10), NBC and Fox (both 3.2/9) and UPN and the WB (both 1.4/4).

The Alphabet also led narrowly in adults 25-54 over CBS (4.9/12 to 4.8/12), with the Eye prevailing easily as usual in total viewers (12.6 million).

UPN, with its regular sked intact, looked good in edging past the WB in adults 18-34 (1.6/5 to 1.5/5), with “Everybody Hates Chris” helping the net improve 14% vs. the same week a year ago while the Frog fell by 17%.

ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” was again the week’s No. 1 telecast in 18-49 (12.0/27, 27.11 million viewers overall), down just slightly from its season premiere. Ditto for “Lost” (9.7/24, 23.17m), which came in at No. 2 in 18-49 for the week and No. 1 in men 18-49 and teens.

Net placed three other shows in the top 10 in 18-49: Sunday’s “Grey’s Anatomy” (8.1/20) and “Home Edition” (6.2/15) and “Monday Night Football” (5.5/14).

Also, sci-fi drama “Invasion” led its Wednesday hour in 18-49 (5.1/13), and “Commander in Chief” (4.3/10 in 18-49, 16.37m) was a solid contributor with its premiere (Daily Variety, Sept. 29). Opposite tough competish, Thursday’s drama pairing of vet “Alias” (2.5/7 in 18-49) and the new “Night Stalker” (2.6/6) performed reasonably well in their debuts.

ABC rolls out more of its new and returning comedies this week and next.

At CBS, “CSI” (9.4/23 in 18-49, 28.00m) was No. 3 in 18-49, No. 2 in 25-54 and No. 1 in total viewers, teaming with “Survivor” (5.7/16, 17.29m) and “Without a Trace” (6.4/17, 20.98m) for a dominant Thursday.

Net is also the top dog on Friday (Daily Variety, Oct. 3), with “Ghost Whisperer” again looking solid in the lead-off slot (2.7/10 in 18-49, 10.87m). And Sunday drama “Cold Case” had a strong outing (4.0/10 in 18-49, 16.67m), growing sharply on its “60 Minutes” lead-in (2.1/6, 10.46m).

NBC had nice perfs from returning series including “Medium” (5.2/13 in 18-49), “Law & Order: SVU” (5.2/13), “ER” (6.6/18) and “Will & Grace” (4.4/11), but had a tough time with newbies “Inconceivable” (1.5/5), “E-Ring” (2.1/5) and “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart” (2.1/6).

One notable exception is Tuesday rookie “My Name Is Earl” (5.1/13 in 18-49, 11.36m), which won its tough slot in 18-49 and was the week’s No. 1 comedy in the demo for a second straight week.

Fox moved up for the week thanks to a hefty NFL overrun on Sunday and a nice showing Tuesday with “House” (5.2/12 in 18-49, 13.37m), which was up week-to-week despite new drama competish. Net also is doing pretty well Tuesday at 8 with “Bones” (3.1/9 in 18-49, 7.87m) and on Sunday with comedy “The War at Home” (4.3/10, 8.54m), both growing week-to-week.

UPN was up on every night compared with last year, led once again by Thursday’s “Everybody Hates Chris” (2.4/7 in 18-49, 6.01m) and Wednesday’s “America’s Next Top Model” (2.1/6, 4.52m). Through the first two weeks of the season, UPN’s Thursday comedy block is up 19% in 18-34 over last year’s “WWE Smackdown.”

The WB saw a good start for “Smallville” on Thursday (2.6/7, 5.90m), and its Tuesday tandem of “Gilmore Girls” (2.4/7, 5.45m) and the new “Supernatural” (2.2/5, 5.01m) continue to shine.

Going nowhere on the weblets are Monday’s “Just Legal” on the WB and Tuesday’s “Sex, Love and Secrets” on UPN.

Even though its San Francisco-Arizona NFL matchup was below average (3.1/8 in 18-49, 7.74m), ESPN easily led the ad-supported cable nets in 18-49 with a 1.06 rating. Week’s top entertainment series was FX’s “Nip/Tuck” on Tuesday (2.0/5 in 18-49, 3.91m), which tied for 70th for the week among all programs in 18-49.

* * *

On Monday of the current week, ABC led with “Monday Night Football” (6.0/16 in 18-49, 15.61m), but several series on other nets stood out.

In the 9 o’clock hour, both NBC’s “Las Vegas” (4.8/11, 13.64m) and Fox’s “Prison Break” (4.5/11, 9.48m) hit in-season highs, opposite football and CBS comedies “Two and a Half Men” (4.8/11, 14.21m) and “Out of Practice” (3.7/9, 11.73m); latter laffer was up a tick week-to-week.

Auds were looking for laffs in the night’s opening hour, with CBS frosh “How I Met Your Mother” (first-place 3.9/10, 10.44m) matching its high, again performing well behind “King of Queens” (first-place 3.5/10, 10.31m).

Fox’s third-year “Arrested Development” hit a season high despite remaining fourth (2.2/6 in 18-49, 4.47m); lead-out “Kitchen Confidential” also was up, although it placed fifth in 18-49 (1.9/5).

On the drama side, NBC’s “Surface” appears to have found its level, placing second at 8 (3.0/8, 9.50m), while the WB vet “7th Heaven” (2.0/5 in 18-49, 5.34m) hit a season high in adults 18-34 (2.3/7).

In the 10 o’clock hour, “CSI: Miami” (6.4/15 in 18-49, 18.67m) was up week-to-week to open up some distance on NBC’s “Medium” (4.6/11, 12.89m), which had pulled within 1 share in 18-49 last Monday.

Of note on cable was USA’s return to wrestling with “WWE Raw,” which averaged a 2.4/6 in 18-49 and about 6 million viewers overall — up 30% or more in various categories vs. its recent Spike averages. And Lifetime movie “Haunting Sarah” drew 4.04 million and a 6 share in women 18-49.

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