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Networks stumble in ratings race

Broadcasters post tame numbers

Perhaps viewers suffered a TV hangover on the night following the presidential election, as the broadcast networks put up tame numbers on the opening Wednesday of the November sweep. NBC, in particular, looked weak with its revamped — but still fourth-place — lineup.

The Peacock’s night started with lowest-yet scores for “Knight Rider” (1.6/4 in 18-49, 5.1 million viewers overall), which finished fifth among the English-language broadcast nets in 18-49. Things picked up slightly at 9 o’clock for “Life” in its new timeslot (2.0/5 in 18-49, 5.8 million viewers overall), though it ran a distant fourth for its hour, and at 10 with the season premiere of “Law & Order” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 7.8 million viewers overall). “Law” moved up to second place for its timeslot, but this was it lowest-rated opener to date.

ABC improved its fortunes on the night by airing the “Dancing With the Stars” results show (3.2/9 in 18-49, 15.6 million viewers overall) in place of the struggling “Pushing Daisies.” That helped lift “Private Practice” to slightly higher numbers at 9 (second-place 3.2/8 in 18-49, 9.5 million viewers overall), but “Dirty Sexy Money” continues to do little at 10 (2.0/5 in 18-49, 6.2 million viewers overall).

Fox, which narrowly won the night in 18-49, received more solid scores at 8 o’clock for “Bones” (3.2/9 in 18-49, 10.1 million viewers overall), which tied with ABC’s “Dancing” for the hour’s lead in 18-49 while winning outright in some younger categories. The net was also competitive at 9 with a repeat of “House” (2.7/7 in 18-49, 6.7 million viewers overall).

CBS, which won the night in 25-54 and total viewers, was lower than usual across the board, starting with opening-hour comedies “The New Adventures of Old Christine” (1.9/5 in 18-49, 6.6 million viewers overall) and “Gary Unmarried” (2.1/6 in 18-49, 6.4 million viewers overall). And increased drama competition seemed to affect the net’s high-flying crime dramas “Criminal Minds” (3.5/9 in 18-49, 14.3 million viewers overall) and “CSI: NY” (3.3/9 in 18-49, 11.7 million viewers overall), which led their hours but were at season-low levels.

CW remained solid at 8 with “America’s Next Top Model” (2.0/6 in 18-49, 3.9 million viewers overall) but fell off as usual at 9 with “Stylista” (1.0/2 in 18-49, 2.0 million viewers overall). “Model” matched its season high in adults 18-34 (2.5/8).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 3.0/8; CBS, 2.9/8; ABC, 2.8/7; NBC, 1.9/5; CW, 1.5/4.

In total viewers: CBS, 10.8 million; ABC, 10.5 million; Fox, 8.4 million; NBC, 6.3 million; CW, 3.0 million.

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