CBS gets ready for sweeps

Killer series an Eye opener Wednesday

America’s fascination with serial killers seemingly knows no bounds, as CBS drama “Criminal Minds” continues its sophomore surge with series-high scores.

While that show and the Eye’s lineup as a whole are looking good heading into sweeps, other nets are springing leaks on Wednesday. NBC’s opening-hour comedy combo of “30 Rock” and “Twenty Good Years” finished an embarrassing sixth in their slot, and ABC’s “The Nine” is doing very little in the 10 o’clock hour.

Then there’s Fox gameshow “The Rich List,” which bowed to cancel-me-now ratings at 9 o’clock.

Star of the night was “Criminal Minds” (5.0 rating/12 share in adults 18-49, 16.97 million viewers overall), which notched its best demo delivery to date and outdrew an original episode of ABC’s “Lost” (6.6/16, 16.07m) in total viewers for the first time, according to Nielsen estimates.

And while “Lost” still led its hour over the Eye drama in both 18-49 (6.6 to 5.0) and 25-54 (7.5 to 6.4), its advantages were the slimmest to date.

Compared to last season at this point, firstrun segs of “Criminal Minds” on Wednesday are up 18% in 18-49 and 24% in total viewers. “Lost,” meanwhile, is down in these categories by 27% and 24%, respectively.

And with “Lost” airing only once during the November sweep (it’s being replaced by new drama “Day Break”) and “Dancing With the Stars” airing just twice (replaced by quizzer “Show Me the Money”), CBS has a good shot to notch its first Wednesday sweeps demo victory in decades, if ever.

In addition to “Criminal Minds,” CBS is also dominating at 10 with “CSI: NY” (5.4/15 in 18-49, 16.64m) and running a solid second at 8 with rookie drama “Jericho” (3.0/8, 9.87m).

Overall through six weeks, the Eye’s dramas were up 25% in 18-49 (4.5/12 to 3.6/9) vs. its showing on Wednesdays a year ago, when comedies led off the night.

ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” results show easily led the 8 o’clock hour (4.8/13, 19.22m), with Fox’s returning “Bones” placing third (2.7/7, 7.33m).

Fox struck out at 9, though, with “The Rich List” (1.5/4, 4.10m), a new gamer that ran fourth in its timeslot. It was unclear if the net planned to stick with the show, which had been skedded to air on Wednesdays during the sweep.

For the night, ABC held on to win over CBS in adults 18-49 (4.7/13 to 4.5/12), with the nets tying in 25-54 (5.6/14) and the Eye moving ahead in total viewers (14.5 million to 14 million).

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