Young adults are flocking to comedy this fall, and CBS — with three strong vet tentpoles and two solid newcomers — is better positioned than anybody to cash in.
Last week, the Eye net, which is also doing well in drama and reality, prevailed for a second straight week in adults 18-49. It’s the first time since the advent of Nielsen’s People Meters in 1987 that CBS has opened the season with consecutive victories in the most lucrative ratings category.
CBS joins NBC in registering single-digit percentage gains through the first two weeks of the season. ABC and Fox are each down 13%.Comedy is certainly one of the biggest stories of the early going this season, claiming half of the week’s top 20 spots in primetime’s 18-49 rankings — including another series high for Fox’s “Glee.” And the skew is even more pronounced among the trendsetting 12-34 crowd: Thirteen of the top 16 entertainment series on the Big Four in this category can be considered comedies (including hourlongs “Glee” and “Desperate Housewives”).
And though CBS skews older than its rivals, it is very much a factor in adults 18-49, with four of primetime’s top eight half-hours last week, including No. 1 frosh show “Mike and Molly” (3.7 rating/9 share in adults 18-49, 11.12 million viewers overall). And its three vet anchors — “How I Met Your Mother” (3.9/11, 9.00m) and “Two and a Half Men” (4.8/12, 13.91m) on Monday and “The Big Bang Theory” (4.4/14, 13.06m) on Thursday — show no signs of slowing down.
Of the three, “Mother” remains the most unsung, last week coming within half a ratings point of “Big Bang’s” Thursday 18-49 score (despite airing in a tougher timeslot) while easily standing as the Eye’s top comedy among the under-35 crowd. The show could be getting a boost on CBS from its premiere last month in syndication, where it is performing nicely for distrib Twentieth TV.
Overall for the Sept. 27-Oct. 3 frame, CBS averaged a 3.1/9 in adults 18-49, comfortably ahead of its tightly bunched rivals Fox (2.8/8), NBC (2.7/8) and ABC (2.6/8). Univision ran fifth (1.6/5), followed by ESPN (1.4/4) and CW (1.1/3).
CBS enjoyed an even larger advantage last week in adults 25-54 (4.0/11 to 3.2/9 for ABC and NBC) and total viewers (11.9 million to 9.2 million for ABC).
In addition to comedy, the Eye also continues to shine in reality. “Survivor” won its Wednesday timeslot (3.5/11, 12.26m), and the combo of “Amazing Race” (3.4/9, 10.67m) and “Undercover Boss” (4.0/10, 13.41m) made CBS the top nonsports net for its two-hour block on Sunday.
On the drama side, the net bested its broadcast competish on four of five weeknights in adults 18-49 — led by Monday rookie “Hawaii Five-0” (3.6/10, 12.72m) — and saw a solid start for vet “CSI: Miami” as it moved to Sunday (3.2/8, 11.75m). Tuesday’s 9 p.m. vet “NCIS” (4.1/12, 19.15m) was the week’s most-watched scripted program overall.
NBC moved up to second even though it had only one of the week’s top 25 programs in 18-49 (“The Office” at No. 18 with a 3.7/10). “Sunday Night Football” (8.0/20) was the frame’s top show in all under-55 categories, as the franchise is off to its best start (22.9 million viewers through four games) since football returned to the Peacock in 2006.
While “Law and Order: Los Angeles” opened well enough on Wednesday at 10 p.m. (3.2/10, 10.64m), the net has a couple of 10 o’clock problem spots to address in Thursday’s “The Apprentice” (1.3/4, 3.61m) and Friday’s “Outlaw” (1.0/4, 4.73m). Wednesday’s 8 p.m. rookie “Undercovers” (1.6/5, 7.24m) is also struggling.
Net also has to be worried about declines on Monday of the current week for the third segs of “The Event” (2.4/6, 7.56m) and “Chase” (1.7/5, 5.78m).
Best news at ABC was the promising start for Tuesday drama “No Ordinary Family” (3.2/9, 10.69m), which easily outperformed the net’s other rookie bows of the previous week: “Better With You” (2.5), “Detroit 1-8-7” (2.3), “My Generation” (1.6) and “The Whole Truth” (1.5). “My Generation” sunk to a 1.1 demo rating last week and was canceled, while “Whole Truth” could be next after dipping to a 1.2 last week.
Also a bright spot for ABC in the early going is Monday’s combo of “Dancing With the Stars” (4.8/12 in 18-49, 21.34m) and “Castle” (2.8/8, 11.08m), as the night was up 24% in 18-49 vs. the first two weeks of a year ago.
At Fox, “Glee” continues to impress early in its second season (5.9/17, 13.51m), hitting a series high and standing as the week’s No. 1 entertainment show in 18-49. And behind it, rookie comedy “Raising Hope” looked better in its second outing (3.1/8, 7.08m) simply by becoming the first new show of the season to maintain its premiere score in week two; not looking so good is the net’s 9:30 half-hour “Running Wilde” (1.9/5, 4.47m), which tumbled from its debut delivery.
Fox got rid of one of its problem hours with “Lone Star” but also has to be considering a change on Friday at 9 p.m. with “The Good Guys” (0.7/3, 2.48m).
CW was led by Thursday drama “The Vampire Diaries” (1.5/5, 3.18m), while its show in the biggest danger is sophomore drama “Life Unexpected” on Tuesday (0.7/2, 1.51m).
In cable, ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” (7.2/19, 17.45m for Bears-Packers) hit a season high and was the week’s No. 2 show in 18-49. MTV’s “Jersey Shore” (3.4/10, 6.72m) hit some highs and topped all broadcast shows in its Thursday 10 p.m. hour in 18-49, and Tuesday’s “Teen Mom” (2.4/7, 3.96m) finished just a tick out of the 18-49 lead (behind CBS’ “The Good Wife”).
HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” continues to perform well, averaging 3.4 million viewers with its 9 p.m. airing on Sunday. And on the same night, History’s premiere of “IRT: Deadliest Roads” averaged the same number, following the fourth-season finale of “Ice Road Truckers” (3.2 million).