Down but not out

'Lost' still a winner, loses some steam

Some of the viewers ABC’s “Lost” lost along the way didn’t return for its third-season premiere Wednesday, although the show remains a winner.

A broad smash during its initial season, “Lost” saw some audience erosion midway through last season, which continued as it kicked off its third year Wednesday. Still, it dominated its hour in all key measures and helped provide a sizable lead-in for new drama “The Nine,” which bowed to solid but unspectacular results.

ABC, also getting a boost from “Dancing With the Stars,” won the night but CBS was a sturdy runner-up.

According to Nielsen nationals, “Lost” (7.7 rating/19 share in adults 18-49, 18.82 million viewers overall) towered over 9 o’clock competish that included CBS’ competitive “Criminal Minds” (4.2/10, 15.19m) and Fox’s repeat of “House” (3.3/8, 8.89m)

“Lost” came in 25% below its second-season preem of last fall (10.2/25 in 18-49) but was up over its May sweeps average last spring (6.9/16). Show again exhibited a strong gender balance, drawing a 20 share in women 18-49 and an 18 in men 18-49.

“Lost’s” ratings path is similar to that of ABC’s “Desperate Housewives”: Both started out huge in fall 2004 and appear to have settled into strong but not quite as stellar performers in their third seasons.

Good news for ABC is that it now has other shows, like “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Dancing With the Stars” and “Ugly Betty,” to pick up the slack. And for the season, the Alphabet is the No. 1 net in 18-49.

At 10, hostage-aftermath drama “The Nine” (4.6/12 in 18-49, 11.91m) placed second to “CSI: NY” on CBS (4.9/14 in 18-49, 15.73m), with NBC’s struggling “Kidnapped” an also-ran in the slot (1.9/5, 5.15m).

“Nine” garnered good to excellent reviews, but its retention of the “Lost” aud (60% in 18-49) wasn’t as high as that of last year’s “Invasion” (67%). Its highest share was in women 25-54 (15).

ABC kicked off its winning night with series-best scores for the results-show edition of “Dancing With the Stars” (4.5/13 in 18-49, 17.49m).

CBS continues to perform well on the night, with “Jericho” (3.4/10 in 18-49, 10.83m) down slightly week to week to place second at 8 and “Criminal Minds” holding its own opposite “Lost.”

Fox was paced by a special off-night repeat of “House” at 9 (3.3/8 in 18-49, 8.89m), NBC by “Biggest Loser” (3.0/7, 7.15m).

At the CW, “America’s Next Top Model” (2.6/8 in 18-49, 5.25m) continues to perform well, up week to week and tying for the adults 18-34 lead (3.2/10). “One Tree Hill” (1.4/3 in 18-49, 3.09m) retained all of its prior-week premiere score in 18-34 (2.0/6).

For the night, ABC led over second-place CBS by 33% in 18-49 (5.6/15 to 4.2/11) and also drew the most viewers overall (16.1 million).

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