Weak start for 'Heist,' 'Evidence'; 'L&O' slow

“CSI: NY” isn’t quite in the same ratings league as its socko siblings, but the CBS drama easily withstood the challenge of a pair of crime-drama pretenders Wednesday night.

ABC’s “The Evidence” and NBC’s “Heist” both opened meekly, as did a pair of rookie CBS laffers — “Out of Practice” and “Courting Alex” — which made their Wednesday debuts after OK perfs this season on Monday. Peacock also struck out with “Law & Order” in its new timeslot, as the once-invincible warhorse continues to look ordinary in its 16th season.

Night was much kinder to unscripted skeins, with Fox winning behind another huge “American Idol” and a solid start for “Unanimous,” while NBC at least kicked things off well with a special “Deal or No Deal.”

According to in-home viewing estimates from Nielsen, ABC’s struggles in the post-“Lost” 10 o’clock hour continued Wednesday with the premiere of “The Evidence” (3.4/9 in 18-49, 9.10 million viewers overall).

It retained a bit more than half of its “Lost” lead-in (6.6/15 in 18-49, 16.06m) and placed second to “CSI: NY” (4.4/12, 13.93m). Like “Invasion,” which is skedded to return to the lineup next month, “Evidence” also lost share points from its first half-hour to the second.

NBC’s “Heist” (3.0/8 in 18-49, 8.75m) fared a little better relative to lead-in, building slightly on the fourth-place “Law & Order” (2.6/6, 9m). “Law” shifted down to 9 o’clock after 15 seasons at 10 in an attempt by the net to open up real estate in the less-congested 10 o’clock hour.

This is believed to be the lowest rating for an original episode of “Law” to date, as auds clearly favored Fox’s reality, “Lost” and CBS’ rookie success “Criminal Minds” (3.5/8, 12.10m).

Both “The Evidence” (Saturday at 10) and “Heist” (Monday at 10) will get a chance to recruit new viewers by replaying their pilot prior to their second segs next Wednesday.

Fox had better news for its premiering 9:30 skein “Unanimous” (7.1/16, 16.04m), which held onto more of its 18-49 lead-in from “American Idol” (11.4/27, 27.68m) than any premiering post-“Idol” skein since “The Swan” two years ago. Unscripted competition series, which will finish out the season for Fox behind the “Idol” results show on Wednesdays, edged past ABC’s “Lost” in 18-49 rating (7.1 to 7.0).

NBC opened Wednesday on a promising note with a special “Deal or No Deal” (5.1/14, 14.95m), which racked up the net’s highest non-Olympics 18-49 score in the hour in more than five years. Gamer regularly airs on Mondays and Fridays.

It’s this great start to the night that NBC was hoping would boost its rejiggered lineup, but auds fled the net after Howie Mandel signed off.

Fox’s “Bones” (4.1/11, 11.14m) and UPN’s “America’s Next Top Model” (2.5/7, 5.21m) again looked solid in the leadoff hour despite the added competish from “Deal.”

And ABC’s comedy combo of “George Lopez” (2.8/8, 7.24m) and “Freddie” (3.2/8, 7.70m), with the title stars crossing over to each other’s skeins, easily topped CBS’ “Out of Practice” (2.0/6, 6.94m) and “Courting Alex” (1.7/4, 6.28m). “Alex” lost 2 share points in 18-49 from “Practice.”

Eye is trying to gauge the popularity of this rookie pair, which had performed OK this season in the cushy Monday slot between “Two and a Half Men” and “CSI: Miami.”

Fox cruised for the nightly victory with a 6.7/17 in 18-49 to a 4.4/11 for runner-up ABC. Net also prevailed in 25-54, 12-34 and total viewers.

Over on cable, Comedy Central scored with the 10th season preem of “South Park” (1.8/5 in 18-49, 3.49m), which led its 10 p.m. timeslot in men 18-34 (3.3/10). That led into the second-season opener for “Mind of Mencia,” which logged its best scores to date (1.1/3 in 18-49, 2.18m).

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