'Practice,' 'Daisies' take root with audiences

Two months into the fall season, viewing patterns are crystallizing on wild Wednesday, the night with the most new shows.

ABC’s “Private Practice” and “Pushing Daisies” remain solid performers although they’re down after big starts, but NBC’s “Bionic Woman” is really struggling now and other shows in the 9 o’clock hour are taking advantage. CW’s “Gossip Girl” had its best score of the television season this week, while CBS vet “Criminal Minds” and Fox reality newcomer “Kitchen Nightmares” also hit highs.

The Eye, with “Kid Nation” on the rise at 8 and “CSI: NY” ruling as usual at 10, moved to the demo lead for the first time on the night this season, edging out the Alphabet.

Those nets are also the leaders at the halfway point in the November sweep, with ABC on top in adults 18-49 and expected to win for a third straight year. Through Wednesday, ABC averaged a 3.7 rating/10 share in “live plus same-day” Nielsen 18-49 averages, followed by CBS (3.5/9), NBC (3.2/9), Fox (3.2/8) and CW (1.2/3). Fox is the only net up vs. last year at this point.

CBS figures to keep its recent November streaks intact as well by winning the month in adults 25-54 and total viewers. It held the edge in both categories through Wednesday.

Looking at the key 9 o’clock hour, “Criminal Minds” (4.3 rating/11 share in 18-49, 15.73 million viewers overall) held a slight edge in 18-49 for the first time over “Private Practice” (4.2/11, 11.48m). “Minds,” which dominated the hour in total viewers, logged its best scores since winter, while “Private Practice,” which remains in control among the 18-34 crowd (4.0/11), dipped 7% from its prior “live plus same-day” average in 18-49 (4.5/12).

What’s freeing up auds most is NBC frosh “Bionic Woman” (2.5/6 in 18-49, 6.29m), which has yet to show any week-to-week improvement after bowing impressively in September. It’s not getting any help from its reality dud lead-in, “Phenomenon” (2.0/6, 6.10m), which placed fifth at 8 o’clock.

CW is happy with “Gossip Girl” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 2.95m), which matched its season highs in various categories, including adults 18-34 (2.1/5). It retained more of its lead-in from “America’s Next Top Model” (2.6/7 in 18-49, 5.34m), which tied for second in 18-49 and led in 18-34 with a season high (3.0/9).

Combined, “Model” and “Gossip” helped CW match its best Wednesday average of the season in 18-34 (2.5/7) while drawing its strongest numbers yet in all key female demos.

And Fox’s “Kitchen Nightmares” (3.2/8 in 18-49, 6.95m) continues its gradual build, rising 10% week to week to place third. The net’s entire lineup inched up, with “Back to You” (2.5/7 in 18-49, 7.31m) and “‘Til Death” (2.7/7, 7.34m) logging their best scores since September.

Also at 8 o’clock, ABC’s “Pushing Daisies” was on the low end of its range but again won the hour (3.1/9, 8.83m), while “Kid Nation” placed fourth (2.4/7, 7.42m) but drew its best numbers in three weeks.

The 10 o’clock hour went to “CSI: NY” (3.8/10, 13.13m), followed by ABC’s “Dirty Sexy Money” (2.8/8 in 18-49, 7.90m) and NBC’s “Life” (2.5/7, 6.90m).

Both of the new dramas continue to perform OK, with “Life” maintaining 100% of its 18-49 lead-in from “Bionic Woman.” NBC will look to lift “Life” by airing a two-part episode of the cop drama on Dec. 3 (a Monday, following the fall finale of “Heroes”) and Dec. 5 in its regular timeslot.

Bravo’s “Project Runway” opened its fourth season with strong scores (1.5/4 in 18-49, 2.89) — the best for any premiere to date on the cabler. It was up about 20% from its third-season preem averages.

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