ABC wins night with new comedies

ABC, which has been looking for a hit comedy for years, may be on the right track this fall after “Modern Family” and “Cougar Town” opened to strong numbers on Wednesday.

CBS and Fox also had reason to smile. The Eye’s “Criminal Minds” and “CSI: NY” combined for another winning night to start the season, while Fox’s tuner-comedy “Glee” held up well despite heavily promoted premieres on the other nets.

NBC really struggled, however, and the domino effect of its “Jay Leno Show” scheduling was evident. Net finished fourth among the broadcast nets for a third night in a row.

Alphabet’s critical fave “Modern Family” opened at 9 o’clock with a 4.2 rating/11 share in adults 18-49 and 12.60 million viewers overall. The ensemble laffer built on its lead-in from a special “Dancing With the Stars” results show (3.3/10 in 18-49, 15.36m) by 27% in 18-49.

“Modern Family” was followed by Courteney Cox starrer “Cougar Town” (4.4/11, 11.28m), which built on “Family” by 5% in 18-49 to become television’s top-rated new comedy since ABC’s “Samantha Who” two years ago.

In a good sign, “Modern Family” held fairly steady in 18-49 on the quarter hour (4.3 at 9 p.m. and 4.2 at 9:15 p.m.), while “Cougar Town” was a flat 4.4 in both half-hours and grew slightly in some other categories.

The Alphabet also launched a new drama on Wednesday, as “Eastwick” delivered a second-place finish at 10 p.m. (3.0/8 in 18-49, 8.50m). Though it fell off from its lead-in and lost audience in its second half-hour, it did improve on the early-season average of “Dirty Sexy Money” in the timeslot a year ago.

Next week, ABC will roll out two more comedies — “Hank” and “The Middle” in the 8 o’clock hour — as part of its risky bet to place five new shows on Wednesday night.

Powered by “Criminal Minds,” CBS’ lineup of returning skeins elbowed past ABC to win the night in 18-49 (3.6/10 to 3.5/10) while also prevailing in adults 25-54 and total viewers.

The net started modestly with returning laffers “New Adventures of Old Christine” (2.2/7, 7.17m) and “Gary Unmarried” (2.3/7, 6.86m) before winning in most categories from 9 to 11 p.m. with “Criminal Minds” (4.4/12, 15.84m) and “CSI: NY” (4.0/11, 15.06m). Both crime dramas logged their best scores since last fall.

“Criminal Minds” tied with “Cougar Town” as the night’s No. 1 show in 18-49 and was also Wednesday’s most-watched program overall.

Fox hung tough opposite the premieres with its third-week segs of “So You Think You Can Dance” (2.5/8 in 18-49, 5.50m) and “Glee” (3.1/8, 6.64m), with both shows winning among adults 18-34.

NBC finished fourth among the broadcasters for a third straight night to start the season, with medical drama “Mercy” opening meekly (2.3/7 in 18-49, 8.38m) and “Law and Order: SVU” kicking off its 11th season deep in fourth place in its tough new 9 o’clock slot (2.5/7, 8.36m).

Both shows would be airing in later hours if not for the net’s decision to strip “Jay Leno” at 10 p.m. “SVU” was the show most affected by Leno’s primetime arrival, as it was forced to move out of its longtime home of Tuesday at 10 p.m., where it was dominant. Now “SVU” has to go head-to-head with the Eye’s potent “Criminal Minds.”

On Wednesday, “Jay Leno” delivered its second-lowest scores to date (2.0/5, 6.38m).

CW’s “America’s Next Top Model” held up pretty well at 8 (1.3/4, 2.82m), but the net’s new drama “The Beautiful Life” had another skimpy showing in its second outing (0.5/1, 1.05m).

ABC and Fox were up vs. last year’s premiere Wednesday while CBS was flat and NBC and CW were both down.

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