Peacock split

As 'Heroes' rises, 'Sunset' doesn't glow

It’s still early in the season, but ratings results for NBC’s new fall series prove — again — that hype doesn’t provide any guarantees and that surprise hits will emerge.

The future is starting to look sketchy for NBC’s “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” a show that most critics heralded as one of the brightest spots of the new season.

But as “Studio 60” slumps, the net’s comicbook drama “Heroes,” which came in with lower expectations and no high-profile names attached, is shaping up as a hit.

The Peacock invested a great deal of effort and money into launching “Studio,” and the net believed in the show so much that it originally planned to air “Studio 60” in the primo Thursday 9 p.m. slot (before “Grey’s Anatomy” sent it scurrying to Monday).

“Studio 60” has now lost a sizable chunk of its premiere audience after just three weeks, dipping 32% from its launch.

On the flip side, “Heroes” (5.5 rating/13 share in adults 18-49, 12.96 million viewers overall) declined just 7% from its strong series premiere to beat its broadcast rivals in most demos, according to Nielsen.

No other first-year drama this fall has rated higher in 18-49 with its second seg than “Heroes.” And of all NBC dramas to bow in the past three seasons, only “Medium” rated higher in week two (6.3/16).

“Heroes” was supposed to be a more difficult sell for NBC, while “Studio 60,” with its Aaron Sorkin/Thomas Schlamme auspices, garnered most of the media attention.

The dipping numbers for “Studio 60” put NBC in a tough spot. Drama has quickly become the highest-indexing show among upscale viewers on TV. But if the ratings continue to dip, its desirable demos may not make up for those smaller overall numbers. And there’s no obvious alternative timeslot for “Studio 60,” at least immediately.

“I think they’re just going to have to grin and bear it for now,” a rival network exec said of the drooping ratings.

“Studio 60” has now been hit with double-digit declines for two weeks in a row, posting a 3.4 rating/9 share in adults 18-49 on Monday. That’s down 19% from last week (4.2/11). Show drew 8.85 million viewers overall.

Ironically, the fictional “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” recently saw its ratings bounce thanks to an on-air tirade by the show’s exec producer (played by Judd Hirsch). Perhaps it’s time for real-life “Studio 60” mastermind Aaron Sorkin to film his own on-air camera rant about the state of network TV.

Meanwhile, across town, CBS laffer “The Class” — generally considered this year’s great sitcom hope — also has hit ratings lows. On Monday, “The Class” fell 7% to its lowest score to date (2.7/8, 7.88m).

Despite declines for “The Class,” Eye was bolstered by its rising other comedies, helping CBS move ahead NBC to the top of Monday’s ratings leaderboard in key demos.

For the night, according to Nielsen nationals, the Eye had it over the Peacock in 18-49 (4.6/12 to 4.2/11) for the first time this season while remaining on top in both adults 25-54 and total viewers.

CBS’ “Two and a Half Men” (5.1/12 in 18-49, 15.80m) and “Old Christine” (4.4/10, 13.60m) rose, with the latter hitting season highs. Also of note was 8:30 soph “How I Met Your Mother” (3.6/9, 9.32m), which was up despite its “The Class” lead-in.

“CSI: Miami” closed out the night a winner for CBS (5.9/15 in 18-49, 17.90m), easily topping “Studio 60.”

Fox led the broadcasters in demos from 8 to 9 with “Prison Break” (3.8/10, 8.99m), beating NBC’s “Deal or No Deal” (3.7/10, 13.17m) in demos for the first time. Gamer remained on top in total viewers.

And ABC hung in there with “Wife Swap” (2.9/8 in 18-49, 6.90m) and the two-hour preem of “The Bachelor: Rome” (3.1/8, 7.53m), with the latter up 15% vs. last January’s Paris edition.

At the CW, both “7th Heaven” (1.5/4, 4,17m) and the new “Runaway” (0.8/2, 1.86m) were on par with their prior-week premiere scores and combined for a 1.3/4 in 18-49.

ESPN again topped its broadcast rivals in various categories from 8:30 to 11 p.m. with “Monday Night Football” (5.2/14 in 18-49, 12.90m for Green Bay-Philadelphia).

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