Eight series look great in early going

After two or more airings, a surprisingly high number of new broadcast network shows — eight — are performing well this fall.

While there are no “Desperate Housewives” or “Lost”-like breakouts, the hot rookies are welcome news to the broadcast biz. And the success spurt comes following a couple of seasons that, in part due to fallout from the 2007-08 writers strike, failed to yield many popular new programs.

The overall network ratings race, meanwhile, continues to be significantly affected by football, which is off to a monster ratings start on virtually every outlet.

Fox won the week in adults 18-49 (a rarity in the fall) with its big NFL overrun on Sunday (10.3 demo rating for 25 minutes); “Sunday Night Football” was again the No. 1 program of the week (7.4/19 in 18-49, 18.42m), rallying NBC to a respectable finish; and ABC crushed the competish Saturday with its “Saturday Night Football” college action.

CBS, with the most consistent lineup throughout the week, aired no football but still was within shouting distance of the 18-49 lead while winning in adults 25-54 and total viewers. It figures to move ahead in weeks, like the current one, when football gives it a boost.

The big story of last week, though, was the continued strong performances of eight new shows: three on ABC, two apiece on CBS and Fox and one on CW. NBC, on the other hand, has had only middling success (with “Community” and “Mercy”), while its five-night “The Jay Leno Show” continues to decline.

At the Alphabet, Wednesday laffers “Modern Family” (3.8/10 in 18-49, 9.99m) and “Cougar Town” (3.8/10, 9.25m) appear to be a good pairing in the night’s middle hour, declining by a respectable 10% and 14%, respectively, from their boffo bows and tying for the hour’s demo lead.

Net also opened two more comedies, “Hank” (2.1/7, 8.34m) and “The Middle” (2.6/8, 8.71m), to decent numbers last Wednesday.

And ABC’s Thursday drama “FlashForward” (3.7/11, 11.54m) tied for its hour’s demo lead, dipping just 8% from its premiere.

In the second weeks for new Tuesday dramas at CBS, “NCIS: Los Angeles” (4.1/11 in 18-49, 17.40m) dipped just 7% from its preem, leading into “The Good Wife” (3.2/9, 13.69m), which actually edged up slightly in some categories.

Both are getting a nice assist from leadoff anchor “NCIS” (4.8/14, 21.37m), which matched or set series highs for a second straight week and was the frame’s most-watched program overall.

At Fox, the fourth seg of “Glee” (3.3/9 in 18-49, 7.40m) drew best-since-premiere scores in several categories and again won its 9 o’clock hour among the 18-34 set (3.7/11).

Net has reason to be pleased with Sunday laffer “The Cleveland Show” (4.4/11 in 18-49, 8.86m), which is fitting in nicely between “The Simpsons” (4.4/11, 9.37m) and “Family Guy” (5.1/12, 9.86m).

And CW’s “Vampire Diaries” (1.6/5, 3.53m for its fourth episode) has been a good addition to the net’s Thursday sked. It has held steady the last three weeks in 18-34 (1.8/6).

NBC’s “Jay Leno Show,” meanwhile, averaged a 1.7/5 in 18-49 and 5.71 million viewers overall in its third week — down from the previous week (1.9/5, 6.00m) even though its 9:30 p.m. average lead-in was a bit stronger last week. Net’s faring better Thursdays at 9:30 with frosh laffer “Community” (2.9/7, 5.86m), which now has the tough task of shifting to its new 8 o’clock slot on the night.

Looking at the network race for the Sept. 28-Oct. 4 frame, Fox led in adults 18-49 with a 3.1 rating/9 share, followed by ABC and CBS (both 2.9/8), NBC (2.7/8), Univision (1.5/4), ESPN (1.4/4) and CW (1.1/3).

CBS won in adults 25-54 (3.8/10) and total viewers (11.3 million), while Fox held the edge in 12-34 (2.6/9).

Fox notes that this is the earliest in the season it has ever won a week in the 18-49 demo — a nod to its stronger lineup across the week that now puts it within a Sunday NFL overrun of winning a frame.

ESPN led the primetime cable pack thanks to “Monday Night Football” (6.6/17 in 18-49, 15.71m), the No. 2 show of the week in 18-49. USA ran second in most categories, while Fox News Channel ranked third in total viewers (2.21 million).

FNC also ranked third in total day, its highest finish of this year.

Spike’s “Ultimate Fighter” (3.1/9 in 18-49, 5.31m) had a big showing Wednesday, logging the night’s highest rating in men 18-34 (5.8/18).

Disney Channel dominated among younger auds Friday, led by series highs for an hourlong episode of “Suite Life on Deck” (1.0/4 in 18-49, 6.81m).

At E!, “Kourtney and Khloe” wrapped its season finale with strong numbers Sunday (1.4/4 in 18-49, 2.62m), ranking as the No. 1 entertainment program on television in its time period among women 18-34 (2.8/8). It wrapped as the net’s top-rated new series in seven years.

Also Sunday, Lifetime’s combo of “Drop Dead Diva” (0.9/2 in 18-49, 2.79m) and “Army Wives” (1.1/3, 3.33m) held up well opposite stronger broadcast competish. “Diva” hit a series high in women 18-34 (1.4/4).

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