Solid start for Fox laffer

'Breaking In' stronger than recent post-'Idol' half-hours

Fox has reason to be pleased with the premiere of laffer “Breaking In,” which took advantage of its “American Idol” lead-in to post solid numbers Wednesday.

The true test will come in future weeks, of course, but Fox notes that the show’s premiere-night adults 18-49 score (3.5 rating/9 share) reps the best for a live-action comedy on the network in more than three years. Also averaging 9.82 million viewers overall, it ranked second in its timeslot in 18-49 and first in adults 18-34 (2.7/8), according to Nielsen.

The single-camera laffer from Sony Pictures Television, fronted by Christian Slater, also retained more of its lead-in from “Idol” (7.3/21, 23.13m) than any half-hour comedy in four years (since “Til Death” in April 2007).

Fox has been happy with the performance of rookie “Raising Hope” on Tuesday behind “Glee,” but otherwise it has struggled to establish a half-hour comedy outside of its Sunday animation block.

Another noteworthy ratings highlight of Wednesday came in the 10 o’clock hour’s crime drama showdown, where NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” (2.4/6 in 18-49, 8.29m) won out in 18-49 over CBS’ “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior” (2.1/6, 9.12m) even though the latter benefited from a huge lead-in advantage courtesy of the original “Criminal Minds” (3.6/9, 14.08m) — the night’s top-rated scripted program.

And the gap widened in the 10:30 p.m. half-hour, where NBC pulled ahead by 2 shares in 18-49 (2.6/7 to 2.0/5) while also prevailing in both adults 25-54 (3.1/8 vs. 2.8/7) and total viewers (8.77m vs. 8.66m).

After opening strong in mid-February, “Suspect Behavior” has lost considerable steam opposite original segs of “SVU” and isn’t a lock to return next season. CBS has several “on-the-bubble” drama decisions to make, including all three editions of “CSI” as well as first-year entries “The Defenders,” which has ended its run, and “Chaos,” which opened meekly last week.

ABC, meanwhile, delivered more soft numbers for “Mr. Sunshine” (1.6/4 in 18-49, 4.66m) and “Off the Map” (1.3/3, 3.80m), with the latter wrapping its season and unlikely to return next season.

This was also the final episode in a while for “Sunshine,” which will replaced in coming weeks by returnee “Cougar Town.” Before “Cougar Town,” bows, however, newbie “Happy Endings” will get a one-week tryout (following a new episode of “Modern Family”) in the same 9:30 p.m. slot as “Breaking In” before sliding into its regular 10 p.m. slot.

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