Night impacted by vice presidential debate, sports action

On a night whose flow was disrupted by the vice presidential debate, CBS ruled with “The Big Bang Theory” while CW saw a strong return for “The Vampire Diaries” and a solid bow for its “Beauty and the Beast.”

Numbers for the 8 o’clock hour entertainment shows were down, in part due to the debate and perhaps some local-market coverage before or after the debate, depending on when it aired. Also a factor on the night was the NFL Network game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans as well postseason Major League Baseball action affecting areas including New York, Detroit and the Bay Area.

As it stands in the prelims, though, “The Big Bang Theory” averaged a 4.2 rating/13 share in adults 18-49 and 13.8 million viewers overall (down about 12% week to week) but remained the night’s top program. And “Two and a Half Men” kept the Eye on top at 8:30 p.m. (3.4/9 in 18-49, 11.2 million viewers overall), down about 6% week to week.

Also down week to week were Fox’s “The X Factor” (2.9/8, 8.3 million viewers overall) and ABC’s “Last Resort” (1.6/4, 6.9 million). “Resort” had looked pretty good in its first two outings, with its premiere averaging a 3.0 rating among adults 18-49 in L3 numbers (live viewing plus three days of DVR playback), and its second episode retaining 90% (2.7).

Ratings for CW could be inflated a bit since they include Steelers football action on the net’s station in Pittsburgh. In the prelims, “The Vampire Diaries” looked good in kicking off its fourth season (1.6/5 in 18-49, 3.5 million viewers overall), up in most categories and flat in adults 18-34 (1.7/6). In the prelims, it beat both ABC and NBC in both 18-49 and 18-34

It was followed by the series premiere of “Beauty and the Beast” (1.3/3 in 18-49, 3.2 million viewers overall), which was in line with last year’s debut of “The Secret Circle.” CW used the debate as a road block of sorts, as “Beauty” was the only English-language broadcast net airing scripted programming.

NBC’s “30 Rock” (1.4/4, 3.8 million viewers overall) matched last week’s score, and lead-out “Up All Night” (1.2/3, 3.5 million viewers overall) was down.

Preliminary numbers weren’t available for the VP debate and post-debate analysis between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan, but the stations of NBC and CBS both averaged a 2.1/5 in 18-49 from 9 to 11, and ABC’s stations averaged a 1.8/4. In total viewers, CBS led the way with nearly 8 million.

When the national numbers come in, they will certainly pale in comparison to the VP debate of four years ago, which was a popular draw due to Sarah Palin.

As was the case with last week’s first presidential debate, Nielsen will sustain the ratings for the commercial-free program and not include it in any network averages.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night (excluding debate coverage): CBS, 3.8/11; Fox, 2.9/8; ABC, 1.6/4; CW and Univision, 1.4/4; NBC, 1.3/4.

In total viewers (excluding debate coverage): CBS, 12.5 million; Fox, 8.3 million; ABC, 6.9 million; NBC, 3.7 million; Univision, 3.5 million; CW, 3.3 million.

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