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Ratings riches split

ABC, NBC, Fox each draw demo wins

The broadcast nets divvied up the wealth on the opening Tuesday of the season, with Fox’s “House,” ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” and NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” each winning hours in key demos.

And in something of a trend to emerge early this fall, the only new show to bow — CBS heist drama “Smith” — produced good but not great ratings.

ABC and Fox were neck and neck for the night’s lead in adults 18-49, while NBC, which also saw “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” open well on its new night, wasn’t far behind.

According to Nielsen nationals, Fox’s “House” (5.9 rating/17 share in adults 18-49, 13.67 million viewers overall) was the night’s top show in demos, while “Dancing With the Stars” (5.2/14, 18.17m) set the pace in total viewers and key female demos.

“House” held its ground at 8 despite increased competish from the season preem of CBS’ “NCIS” (3.4/10 in 18-49, 13.48m) and a special “Deal or No Deal” on NBC (3.4/10, 10.77m). Fox medical skein was up 20% from its score on the same night a year ago, when it aired at 9 o’clock.

Also for Fox, “Standoff” (3.2/8, 7.76m) was on par with the prior week but fell to a fourth-place finish against more firstrun fare.

“Dancing,” meanwhile, declined a bit week to week (5.2/14 in 18-49, 18.17m from 8 to 10:02 p.m.), again rising sharply in its second hour. It helped the Alphabet to its strongest opening Tuesday of the season in adults 18-49 since 2003 and its largest overall aud to kick off Tuesday for a season since 2000.

“Dancing” shifts to 90 minutes next week, with Ted Danson laffer “Help Me Help You” following at 9:30.

The three-way drama battle at 9 o’clock went to NBC’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (4.0/10 in 18-49, 11.57m) in both 18-49 and 25-54, topping CBS’ second-year bow of “The Unit” (3.4/9, 11.81m from 9 to 9:58) and Fox’s “Standoff.” Military action drama “The Unit” posted its lowest firstrun score to date, although it led its hour in men 25-54 (4.9/12).

“Law & Order: CI” was up a hefty 29% from its season preem last season, when the show aired on Sunday. Net’s strategy of stacking two “L&O” skeins looks like a good one after one week, with “CI” making a good lead-in to “SVU.”

In that 10 o’clock drama showdown, NBC ruled with “SVU” (5.2/14 in 18-49, 14.55m), which had no problem opposite CBS’ new “Smith” (3.6/10, 11.00m) and ABC’s returning “Boston Legal” (3.4/9, 11.28m). “SVU” was down a bit from last year, when it preemed opposite unscripted skeins on the other nets.

For CBS, “Smith” was solid but unspectacular in its preem, performing 9% better than crime drama “Close to Home” in its fall bow a year ago. It’s the third new skein in as many attempts (joining Monday’s “The Class” and “Studio 60”) to bow with OK scores during premiere week.

After next week’s debut of “Help Me, Help You,” Tuesday will also see the premieres of NBC football drama “Friday Night Lights” on Oct. 3 and ABC comedy “Knights of Prosperity” on Oct. 17.

Of note on cable Tuesday was A&E’s “Dog the Bounty Hunter” spec “Dog: The Family Speaks Out” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 4.49m). It was cable’s top show of the night and established network records for highest-rated telecast in both 18-49 and 18-34 (2.3/7).

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