Ratings depressed in holiday week

ABC's 'Oliver' tumbles while CBS' 'Medical' wins with low debut score

Holiday weeks typically produce depressed ratings across primetime, and that appeared to be even more true in the past few days.

As DVRs have made their way into more than 35% of the country’s homes, auds know they can catch up with favorite series at their leisure. And that seemed to happen big-time during the stretch that encompassed Passover and Good Friday.

Thursday’s hit dramas settled for much lower numbers, while Friday saw CBS’ “Miami Medical” deliver what is possibly the lowest score on record for a winning premiere. Also on the night, ABC’s “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” tumbled roughly 40% but was still about the strongest performer in the 9 o’clock hour, according to Nielsen preliminaries.

At CBS, its Thursday and Friday dramas were itching to get back on the air after being sidelined by college basketball for two weeks.

But “Ghost Whisperer” (prelim 1.3/5 in 18-49, 5.9 million viewers overall) and “Medium” (prelim 1.3/5, 4.3 million) came back surprisingly low, making it difficult for “Miami Medical” (prelim 1.6/6, 7.5 million) to gain much steam. Still, the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced skein led or tied with NBC’s “Dateline” for the 10 p.m. hour’s lead in key categories and stood as Friday’s most-watched program overall.

Also on the night, “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” averaged a prelim 1.5/5 in 18-49 and 4.3 million viewers overall in a 9 o’clock hour that saw every major broadcaster muster a mere 5% of the available 18-49 audience. This is quite a big comedown from the previous week when “Food Revolution” opened to the best demo score for any regular Friday series this season (2.6/8).

“Food Revolution” didn’t get much support from lead-in “Wife Swap” (prelim 1.2/5 in 18-49, 3.6 million), which was kicking off its season. NBC’s own 8 o’clock alternative series, “Who Do You Think You Are,” held up OK (prelim 1.4/6 in 18-49, 6.0 million), gaining 1 share point week to week.

On Thursday, the Eye’s “Survivor” kept humming along (3.5/13 in 18-49, 11.26 million viewers overall), but the net’s one-time slot switch of “The Mentalist” (2.7/8, 14.11m) and “CSI” (2.8/8, 13.35m) didn’t produce the desired effects. While “CSI” won at 10 over ABC’s “Private Practice” (2.6/8, 7.82m) and NBC’s “The Marriage Ref” (2.3/7, 5.40m), “The Mentalist” didn’t look all that strong at 9, though it won easily in total viewers.

ABC’s “FlashForward” (1.5/5, 5.04m) hit a low in opening the night, as did “Grey’s Anatomy” (3.5/11, 9.87m), though the latter more than doubled its lead-in and remained the night’s top scripted program in 18-49.

Relative to their timeslot competition, Fox’s “Bones” at 8 (2.4/8 in 18-49, 8.68m) and “Fringe” and 9 (2.2/7, 5.83m) held up reasonably well, though both were down noticeably from the last time they aired together two months ago.

Fox News Channel’s premiere of Sarah Palin’s special “Real American Stories” averaged about 2.1 million viewers, down from what “On the Record With Greta” usually draws in the 10 o’clock hour, though viewing levels overall were lower than a typical Thursday.

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