Comedy is king for the first month of the TV season, with the best story coming out of every network related to half-hours.
It’s a different story, meanwhile, in other genres as most reality shows and dramas seem to be facing an uphill battle. The record-setting top shows on basic cable, in fact, have ventured into the teeth of the broadcast season and fared very well.
Last week among adults 18-49, AMC’s second-season premiere of “The Walking Dead” ranked second among all primetime dramas (tied with CBS’ “Criminal Minds” and not too far behind the Eye’s “NCIS”), while MTV’s “Jersey Shore” outperformed all unscripted broadcast skeins except for one seg of Fox’s “The X Factor,” according to Nielsen.
In comedy, though, broadcast is where it’s at, as half-hours account for the fall’s top six entertainment series in 18-49.
CBS, the season leader in 18-49 through four weeks, has made its biggest noise in comedy as new series “2 Broke Girls” (4.3/11, 10.71m) and the new-ish “Two and a Half Men” (5.9/14, 16.20m for the fourth seg featuring Ashton Kutcher) have re-energized the entire Monday comedy block, and leadoff hitter “How I Met Your Mother” is off to its own hot start (4.0/11, 8.89m last week); CBS Monday has even emerged as the top-rated live-action comedy block among adults 18-34, surpassing ABC’s Wednesday (which is also up) and NBC’s Thursday (which is down).
Also for the Eye, “The Big Bang Theory” is Thursday’s No. 1 series (4.6/14, 13.58m last week).
At Fox, while dinosaur drama “Terra Nova” and Simon Cowell-fronted reality show “The X Factor” have done OK but not performed as well as many had thought, it’s Zooey Deschanel comedy “New Girl” that has put up the best ratings. Preempted last week, the laffer is tied with “2 Broke Girls” as the season’s No. 3 comedy and top newcomer.
ABC, whose reality tentpole “Dancing With the Stars” is having a sub-par season ratings wise, is pleased with its new Wednesday comedy “Suburgatory” (3.1/8, 8.92m last week), which is building a bit on its lead-in from “The Middle” (2.9/9, 8.87m last week) and providing a better lead-in for “Modern Family” (5.9/15, 13.65m last week). Now in its third season, “Family” is up and trails only CBS’ “Two and a Half Men” in the 18-49 non-sports program rankings; it’s also the most DVR-ed show, and when final numbers come in for Week 4, it is expected to move ahead of football to finish No. 1 for the first time.
The Alphabet also saw Tim Allen’s new show “Last Man Standing” open well last Tuesday (3.6/10 in 18-49, 13.19m), becoming the top-rated 8 p.m. comedy debut on any net in nearly eight years.
And while it has been a tough start to the season for NBC, its Wednesday comedy “Up All Night” has showed a spark (2.1/6, 5.24m last week) and figures to be asked to help shore up Thursday night at some point. “The Office,” meanwhile, remains easily the net’s No. 1 entertainment series in demos (3.3/9, 6.08m last week).
Looking at numbers for the week of Oct. 10-16, Fox took advantage of Sunday’s NFL overrun to win in adults 18-49 with a 2.9 rating/8 share. It was followed by CBS (2.6/7), ABC (2.3/6), NBC (2.1/6) and Univision (1.4/4).
Fox also edged ahead of CBS for the week’s lead in adults 25-54 (3.5/9 to 3.4/8) while the Eye continued its winning streak to start the season in total viewers (10.6 million to 8.9 million for Fox).
Of note for the frame, ABC’s “Revenge” (2.7/7 in 18-49, 7.90m), arguably the most buzzed about new fall drama, became the first drama to show a week-to-week 18-49 gain. One night later, CBS’ “Person of Interest” did the same (2.8/7, 12.04m).
The dramas whose fates appear to be up in the air are CBS’ “A Gifted Man” on Friday (1.2/4, 7.71m) and ABC’s “Pan Am” on Sunday (1.8/4, 5.83m), with the latter down a tick week-to-week and down more than 40% from its premiere.
On the comedy side, NBC’s “Whitney” has already been picked up for the rest of the season but continued its decline last Thursday (2.0/5, 4.25m), off nearly 40% from its premiere.
On cable last week, AMC’s “Walking Dead” (3.8/9, 7.26m) established a basic-cable drama record for most adults 18-49 (4.8 million). It and MTV’s unstoppable “Jersey Shore” (3.6/9, 6.47m) ranked among TV’s top 15 primetime series in 18-49 last week.
Other top performers included E!’s finale of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” (2.1/5, 3.98m), BET’s “Hip Hop Awards” (2.1/5, 4.08m) and FX’s “Sons of Anarchy” (1.9/5, 3.56m). FX’s “American Horror Story” (1.4/3, 2.46m) retained nearly 90% of the demo aud for its premiere of the previous week.
Showtime’s “Homeland” averaged 1.08 million for its third episode Sunday at 10 p.m., up 15% week to week. Including its same-night repeat, Sunday’s seg drew slghtly more viewers than the premiere (1.34m vs. 1.33m), and the pay cabler said the show is on track to become its top-performing first-year drama to date.