‘Voice’ down in return, still tops Monday

NBC series provides boost for premiere of 'New Normal'

NBC music series “The Voice” kicked off its third season Monday with solid but unspectacular numbers — easily standing as the night’s top-rated entertainment series but down sharply from its previous premieres. The early bow, two weeks before the start of the TV season, also helped provide nice sampling for new comedy “The New Normal,” which opened on a special night.

According to preliminary Nielsen estimates, “The Voice” averaged a 4.1 rating/11 share in adults 18-49 and 12 million viewers overall from 8 to 10 p.m., besting the finales of Fox summer hits “Hell’s Kitchen” (2.5/7 in 18-49, 6.2 million viewers overall) and “MasterChef” (2.6/6 in 18-49, 6.4 million viewers overall) by more than 60% in the 18-49 demo. “Voice” was Monday’s top broadcast in most categories, though “MasterChef” emerged No. 1 in men 18-34 (2.1/6).

The Gordon Ramsay cooking contests both came within a tick of their scores from the previous week despite facing “The Voice” and the season premiere of ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.”

“The Voice” premiered in late April 2011 with a big 5.1/13 in adults 18-49 and then exploded with its second-season premiere in February of this year (6.7/17), which benefited from airing one night after the net’s coverage of the Super Bowl (and its own premiere about 30 minutes after the big game). And while no one expected this fall’s third season to open as strong as its performance last February, Monday’s 4.1 rating in 18-49 is down 20% from the show’s same-night average from last March (5.1) and 7% lower than the show’s most recent season finale in early May (4.7).

This is the first time “The Voice” has aired a fall season, meaning it will go up against “Monday Night Football” and, as it did this past spring, ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”

Following “The Voice” at 10 p.m. was the series premiere of Ryan Murphy comedy “The New Normal,” which led the broadcast nets with a 2.5 rating/6 share in adults 18-49 and 6.9 million viewers overall, retaining 53% of its demo lead-in from the final half-hour of “The Voice” (4.7). It airs a new episode in its regular timeslot tonight at 9:30, following “Go On.” The Matthew Perry-fronted “Go On” aired a repeat of its pilot, which had aired following a night of Olympics competition on NBC in August, at 10:30 p.m. on Monday (1.8/5 in 18-49, 5.0 million viewers overall).

ABC joined NBC and Fox in serving up reality programming from 8 to 10 p.m., Monday, but didn’t do much with the two-hour finale of “Bachelor Pad” (1.3/3 in 18-49, 4.5 million viewers overall). It capped the night with a repeat “Castle” (0.8/2 in 18-49, 4.2 million viewers overall).

At CBS, the conclusion of U.S. Open tennis spilled over into primetime by about an hour (1.7/5 in 18-49, 5.1 million viewers overall from 8 to 9 p.m.), and was followed by a repeat of “How I Met Your Mother” (1.6/4 in 18-49, 5.2 million viewers overall), the special “CBS Fall Preview” (1.3/3 in 18-49, 4.4 million viewers overall) and encores of “2 Broke Girls” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 4.8 million viewers overall) and “Mike & Molly” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 3.5 million viewers overall) in the 10 o’clock hour.

CW aired an original “The L.A. Complex” (0.3/1 in 18-49, 0.7 million viewers overall) and a repeat of last Friday’s “America’s Next Top Model” (0.2/1 in 18-49, 0.5 million viewers overall).

Early ratings weren’t available for ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” doubleheader, which ran from 7 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. ET.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: NBC, 3.4/9; Fox, 2.5/7; CBS and Univision, 1.4/4; ABC, 1.1/3; CW, 0.3/1.

In total viewers: NBC, 10.0 million; Fox, 6.3 million; CBS, 4.8 million; ABC, 4.4 million; Univision, 3.6 million; CW, 0.6 million.

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