USA's original series fare well against networks
After enjoying a string of successful series launches, TNT is struggling with its latest entry, ad agency drama “Trust Me.”The show, which stars Eric McCormack and Tom Cavanagh, scored just 1.9 million viewers in the 10 p.m. slot Monday, losing about 65% of the lead-in aud supplied by “The Closer.” The performance also represented a significant retreat from the show’s Jan. 26 premiere, which drew 3.4 million viewers. Reviews for “Trust Me” have been mixed, with the New York Post perhaps summing up crix’ reception best: “The series isn’t bad. It just isn’t all that good.” Since launching “The Closer” in 2005, TNT has introduced only a few new series — notably the paramedic-themed “Saved” and medical drama “Heartland” — that didn’t gain renewal for a second campaign. The network’s successes over that span have all gotten off to strong starts, with “Saving Grace” premiering to 6.4 million viewers in July 2007 and “Leverage” bowing to 5 million viewers in December. And before its perf tapered off considerably, “Raising the Bar” debuted to a record aud of 7.7 million viewers in September. Along with a number of larger cable nets, TNT opted to go head to head with broadcasters in an aggressive rollout of new and returning shows in January and February. Faring particularly well has been USA Network, which has seen its spy thriller “Burn Notice” garner series-best numbers going against original episodes of “Eleventh Hour,” “Private Practice” and “ER” Thursdays at 10 p.m. The cable show beat out all three broadcast series in men 18-34 last week — and bested a repeat of “ER” on the sibling Peacock in total viewers, 5.4 million to 4.3 million. USA again topped NBC at 9 p.m. Friday, with “Monk’s” total audience of 5.4 million beating out NBC’s “Friday Night Lights” (just over 4 million). Meanwhile, going against the ultimate in broadcast competish Sunday at 9 p.m., HBO’s “Big Love” managed to increase its total viewer count by 29% over its season premiere, drawing 1.5 million viewers against the Super Bowl on NBC.