Returning series fare exceptionally well

CBS continued its early-season roll last week, prevailing among young adults for a third straight frame — its longest such streak in nearly three years.

The Eye again exhibited the most balance of any net, winning among adults 18-49 on four nights and among total viewers on five nights. It had six of the week’s top 20 shows in 18-49, more than any net, and was the only major broadcaster to improve upon the same week a year ago.

CBS was boosted significantly by a 45-minute NFL overrun but also overcame the loss of its top-rated Wednesday dramas “Criminal Minds” and “CSI: NY,” which were sidelined by the presidential debate.

Though none of the Eye’s new shows is a smash hit, none is in immediate jeopardy of being yanked from the sked, either. Impressively, they’ve managed to hold onto most of their premiere numbers, unlike most rookies on other nets that have taken a nosedive after their preems.

And since most of the net’s returning series have fared exceptionally well, CBS can afford to be patient with such newbies as “Worst Week” and “The Ex List,” which have room to improve. One of the net’s newcomers, “The Mentalist,” has performed well behind “NCIS” on Tuesday and has already been picked up for the remainder of the season.

Looking at the Oct. 13-19 frame, according to “live plus same-day” Nielsen estimates, CBS led in adults 18-49 with a 3.2 rating/9 share, followed by ABC (2.8/8), NBC (2.7/7), Fox (2.5/7), baseball-boosted TBS (1.8/5) and Univision (1.5/4).

The Eye won by larger margins in both adults 25-54 (4.1/10 to 3.3/8 for ABC) and total viewers (11.5 million to 9.2 million for ABC), while Fox led among persons 12-34 (2.2/7).

CBS was paced by Monday laffer “Two and a Half Men” (5.3/12 in 18-49, 14.72m), which continues to impress in its tough Monday timeslot. Also, “CSI” (5.2/13, 19.27m) remained in the top five and was again the most-watched program overall despite a big dropoff from its premiere.

In the bottom half of the top 20, CBS was repped by a wide range of programs including “Survivor” (4.2/12 in 18-49, 12.81m), “NCIS” (3.9/11, 18.04m) and “How I Met Your Mother” (3.9/10, 9.25m).

Among new shows, “The Mentalist” (3.4/8, 14.94m) led its Tuesday hour in adults 25-54 for a second straight week (4.7/11), and Thursday drama “Eleventh Hour” (3.2/9, 11.91m) looked considerably stronger in week two by virtue of holding steady when lead-in “CSI” tumbled.

Also, Friday’s “Ex List” (2.0/6, 6.29m) is hanging in there, winning the 9 o’clock hour in 18-49.

Elsewhere during the week, second-place ABC claimed the top two programs in 18-49 with “Grey’s Anatomy” (5.9/15, 14.80m) and “Desperate Housewives” (5.7/13, 15.49m), though its only other top-20 skein was “Dancing With the Stars” (4.0/10, 17.77m).

Underperformers on the net include Tuesday’s “Eli Stone” (2.2/6, 8.39m), which kicked off its second season, and Thursday’s “Life on Mars” (2.5/7, 8.22m), which tumbled 32% from its promising premiere.

NBC, whose “Sunday Night Football” matchup was a rare dud (3.9/9, 10.01m), was led by “The Office” (4.3/11, 8.28m), “Heroes” (4.3/10, 8.75m) and Thursday spec “Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update” (4.2/10, 8.83m), which was down nearly a full ratings point from its strong showing of the previous week.

New 10 o’clock Monday drama “My Own Worst Enemy” (3.0/8, 7.27m) was nothing special in its bow, but rookie “Knight Rider” showed some spunk, narrowly winning its Wednesday hour in 18-49 (2.3/6, 7.47m). Thursday half-hour “Kath & Kim” (2.5/7, 6.10m) took a dive after a credible week-earlier bow.

Fox had another winning Tuesday in 18-49 courtesy of “House” (5.3/15, 13.27m) and “Fringe” (4.0/10, 9.16m), shows that also picked up a lot of viewers in DVR playback, according to Nielsen “live plus seven-day” data for week two. During that week, “House” rose from its previously reported 5.4/15 to a 6.4/17, while rookie “Fringe” grew from a 4.2/11 to a 5.1/12.

Sunday also was strong for the net, with “Family Guy” (4.7/10 in 18-49, 9.01m) and “King of the Hill” (3.5/8, 7.40m) hitting season highs.

CW was led by dramas “Smallville” (1.7/5, 4.16m), “One Tree Hill” (1.7/4, 3.47m) and “Gossip Girl” (1.6/4, 3.31m), while MyNetwork hit another high with “WWE Friday Night Smackdown” (1.1/4 in 18-49, 3.38m).

TBS dominated on the cable side in key demos, led by Sunday’s Game 7 of the American League Championship Series between the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox (4.7/12 in 18-49, 13.36m) — the most-watched cable baseball game on record.

Also, Bravo’s “Project Runway” (2.4/6, 4.79m) wrapped its highest-rated season in style Wednesday (Daily Variety, Oct. 17), and Nickelodeon drew a healthy 7.67 million viewers on Monday with SpongeBob SquarePants show “WhoBob What Pants?”

HBO’s “True Blood” delivered a best-yet 2.10 million viewers on Sunday. Pay cabler said the first-year vampire drama has been cuming about 6 million viewers a week on various HBO platforms.

And Fox News drew its largest debate aud this year with Wednesday’s final presidential get-together (9.07 million viewers), with the net ranking second among primetime cablers for the week in total viewers.

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On Monday of the current week, CBS remained on top behind “Two and a Half Men” (5.1/12 in 18-49, 14.63m) and “How I Met Your Mother” (4.0/10, 9.45m). Latter overtook “CSI: Miami” as the Eye’s No. 2 program on the night in 18-49, and stood as the net’s top-rated Monday skein in 18-34 (3.1/8).

At 9:30, new laffer “Worst Week” (3.2/7, 9.88m) held steady in its fifth week, retaining a best-since-premiere 63% of its “Men” lead-in.

Also of note was an increase for NBC’s “Chuck” at 8 o’clock (2.6/7, 6.87m), even though lead-out “Heroes” drooped (3.9/9, 8.51m). And in its second week, “My Own Worst Enemy” (2.5/6, 5.69m) declined by 17% from its mediocre preem.

CW’s hot “One Tree Hill” (1.9/4, 3.69m) built by best-yet margins on its “Gossip Girl” lead-in (1.4/4, 3.03m). “Hill,” now in its sixth season, matched its series high in adults 18-34 (3.0/8).

ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” (4.1/10, 18.50m) was in line with last week, but “Samantha Who?” dropped off at 9:30 (2.7/6, 9.64m).

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