In a good sign for the post-strike broadcast biz, a CBS comedy lineup featuring new episodes delivered season-high ratings Monday night — even opposite the return of ABC’s winning “Dancing With the Stars.”
All four time periods achieved season bests for CBS — impressive given that the start of daylight-saving time means fewer viewers are watching primetime than in recent months, especially in the opening hour.
A timeslot flip of “The Big Bang Theory” with “How I Met Your Mother” worked well for the Eye, with the latter surging to its second-best demo rating in its three seasons. That seemed to boost “Two and a Half Men” and “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” which hit season highs themselves.
The laffers marked the first scripted series to air after resuming production following the resolution of the writers strike in February. CBS drama “CSI: Miami” is the next to return, March 24, with other shows on all networks trickling in after that.
Despite the Eye’s laffer success, ABC still took Monday’s ratings crown, as the sixth edition of “Dancing With the Stars” opened with a sturdy 5.6 rating/15 share in adults 18-49 and 21.15 million viewers overall from 8 to 9:32 p.m., according to Nielsen. The six male celebs (including actor Steve Guttenberg and NFL star Jason Taylor) took to the stage, with the female stars (including Priscilla Presley and tennis great Monica Seles) kicking their heels for the first time Tuesday night.
Monday’s perf was down a slight 3% in the demo from fall’s 90-minute preem (5.8/15) and off 13% from last spring’s opening night, which benefited by airing a half-hour longer and was also boosted by curiosity surrounding contestant Heather Mills.
Following “Dancing,” “The Bachelor: London Calling” ran second in its time period in most categories (3.2/8 in 18-49, 8.58m from 9:32 to 11 p.m.) and moved to first in adults 18-34 (3.4/10) with its best season preem score in three years.
For the night, ABC logged its best Monday since “Dancing” last aired in November, and its highest-rated among adults 18-34 (3.8/11) since last May.
Looking at the CBS shows, “The Big Bang Theory” (3.6/11 in 18-49, 8.93m) was slightly above its average with original segs in the 8:30 slot last fall, and outperformed the average of “How I Met Your Mother” in the leadoff half-hour (3.2/9) by 13%.
Best news for the Eye came at 8:30, where “Mother” (4.3/11 in 18-49, 9.61m) built on “Big Bang” by 19% in rating and outperformed what “Bang” averaged in the slot last fall by a healthy 23% (4.3/11 vs. 3.5/9).
A surprise omission on the Eye’s fall pickup announcement last month, “Mother” took advantage of its later start time to surge 34% above its season average (3.2/9). Laffer drew its second-best 18-49 score to date (behind only a seg in November 2005) and scored a series-high in men 18-49 (a timeslot-leading 3.9/11).
“Mother,” which was the Eye’s top show of the night among adults 18-34 (3.4/10) could also get another boost next week when Britney Spears guest stars.
Tempering the enthusiasm for the strong CBS numbers a bit is the fact that NBC and Fox were both weak in the 8 o’clock hour. The Peacock took a tumble with “My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad” (1.4/4, 4.40m) and the Murdoch net was again not a factor in the hour with week two of drama “Canterbury’s Law” (1.7/5, 5.71m).
Also for CBS on Monday, “Two and a Half Men” (5.4/13 in 18-49, 14.06m) nearly caught “Dancing” in key demos, and “Old Christine” (4.3/11, 11.47m) moved to the time period lead at 9:30 when the ABC hit finished.