ABC and CBS are looking the best in the early going this season, finishing atop the demo leaderboard last week thanks to nice showings by both new and returning programs.
NBC, buoyed by “Sunday Night Football” and a good start for “Heroes,” is the biggest gainer so far, while Fox is struggling as usual to get anything going in fall, when “American Idol” is not on its sked.
And in its first full week, newbie net the CW performed on par with both UPN and the WB of last year and can certainly improve still in several time periods — especially on Sunday.
Overall, according to in-home viewing estimates by Nielsen for the Sept. 25-Oct. 1 frame, ABC’s 4.0 rating/11 share in adults 18-49 nipped CBS (3.9/11), with NBC competitive (3.7/11) and Fox not (2.6/7). ABC and CBS both had nine of the week’s top 25 programs in 18-49, NBC claimed five and Fox just one.
The Eye narrowly led over the Alphabet in adults 25-54 (4.9/12 to 4.7/12), while ABC bested runner-up NBC among persons 12-34 (3.0/10 to 2.6/9), and CBS ruled in total viewers (12.8 million to 11.5 million for ABC).
The battle for fifth place went to Univision over the CW in both adults 18-49 (1.7/5 to 1.5/4) and adults 18-34 (1.8/6 to 1.6/5).
Through two weeks in the 18-49 demo battle, ABC (without “Monday Night Football”) is down just 5% year to year and on top with a 4.2/12 to a 3.9/11 for both CBS (flat) and NBC (up 18%). Fox (2.8/8) is off by 7%.
Non-sports averages have ABC comfortably on top (4.5/12) and up 10% vs. last year. CBS is second and flat year to year (3.8/11), followed by NBC (3.5/10, up 6%) and Fox (2.7/8, down 7%).
Returning dramas topped the program rankings for a second straight week, with ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” (9.6/23 in 18-49, 23.48 million viewers overall) ranking first in 18-49, followed by the Alphabet’s “Desperate Housewives” (8.6/20, 21.42m) and the Eye’s “CSI” (8.0/19, 23.77m).
Although “CSI” has been dented by “Grey’s Anatomy,” it moved ahead of its slot rival for the week in total viewers to rank No. 1 among all programs.
For ABC, the big news of the week was the pretty debut Thursday for “Grey’s Anatomy” lead-in “Ugly Betty” (5.0/14, 16.32m). It came in as the season’s most-watched rookie preem and the top 8 o’clock series bow in 18-49 on any net since ABC’s “Lost” in September 2004.
And even though the Alphabet isn’t getting a whole lot of production out of “Six Degrees” behind “Grey’s Anatomy” (4.1/11 in 18-49, 10.15m for its second episode), ABC has tripled its year-ago output on Thursday in adults 18-49 (6.7 to 2.2), moving from fourth to first.
Also, ABC’s new “Brothers & Sisters” has done pretty well on Sunday (5.3/13, 13.46m), and “Dancing With the Stars” continues to score on Tuesday (5.2/14. 17./91m).
“Jericho” (3.6/11 in 18-49, 11.47m) is the best new performer for CBS, rising slightly from its premiere and delivering the net’s best regular-slot demo score in the Wednesday-at-8 hour in 3½ years. That led into a regular-slot series high for “Criminal Minds” (4.9/13, 16.54m).
“CSI: NY” (5.2/14 in 18-49, 16.21m) was also on the rise Wednesday, as all three of the “CSI” shows cracked the week’s top 15 in 18-49.
New dramas “Smith” on Tuesday (3.3/9, 9.67m) and “Shark” on Thursday (4.2/11, 14.64m) both held up well in week two, placing second in their slots.
At NBC, “Heroes” (5.9/14 in 18-49, 14.10m) opened big on Monday, dominating its broadcast rivals in key demos.
“Sunday Night Football” (6.7/17 in 18-49, 16.94m for Seattle-Chicago) again scored, placing fifth among all programs for the frame in 18-49, and the Peacock also shined as usual Tuesday at 10 with “Law & Order: SVU” (5.0/14, 14.41m).
Fox’s standout performer was once again “House” (6.1/17, 14.52m), but none of its new shows is popping. Thursday laffer “‘Til Death” (2.4/7, 5.72m) was on the rise, though, closing the gap some with NBC’s “My Name Is Earl” (3.4/10, 8.12m).
The CW is solid Wednesday through Friday with its returning shows but would like to see better production on Monday with new drama “Runaway” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 2.18m for its bow).
Also, the Sunday comedy block was weak out of the gate, including “Everybody Hates Chris” at 7 (0.9/3 in 18-49, 2.44m). New comedy “The Game” at 9:30 (1.2/3 in 18-49, 2.80m) fared well relative to its “Girlfriends” lead-in (1.3/3, 2.74m).
Univision was paced by strong 9 o’clock weeknight performer “Barrera De Amor” (Barrier of Love), which beat Fox and the CW in adults 18-34.
On the cable front, ESPN set the pace thanks to its “Monday Night Football” game between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons (6.0/17 in 18-49, 15.00m). Emotional return of the Saints to the Superdome for the first time since the 2004 season set an all-time record for the sports net.
Other top cable performers were FX’s “Nip/Tuck” (2.1/6 in 18-49, 3.92m), VH1’s “Flavor of Love” (2.1/6, 3.99m) and Bravo’s “Project Runway” (1.9/5, 3.76m).