ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox all had more viewers last week than they had during premiere week in 2005, with CBS emerging as the first week’s most popular network for the fifth year in a row.
NEW YORK (AP)—Although no instant hits emerged, television networks were encouraged by the willingness of viewers to at least sample some new shows during the eagerly-awaited fall premiere week.
ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox all had more viewers last week than they had during premiere week in 2005, with CBS emerging as the first week’s most popular network for the fifth year in a row, according to Nielsen Media Research.
”I think everyone’s got a little something to root for and everybody has a few question marks,” said Kelly Kahl, CBS scheduling chief.
The out-of-the-box success of Desperate Housewives and Lost two years ago set a standard that no network could duplicate this season. But at least 13 million people tried new shows like Brothers & Sisters on ABC, Shark on CBS and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip on NBC last week, Nielsen said.
One red flag was that several programs, including those three, had an abnormally high number of viewers click away to a different channel as the show progressed.
It could mean that viewers have an itchier finger on their remote controls and networks need to get more action up front, said Mitch Metcalf, NBC’s scheduling chief. Or it could mean they simply don’t like the new shows; if that’s the case, it will become evident over the next few weeks.
Networks are becoming more cautious rolling out their new shows during opening week. Both ABC and NBC premiered only two of their nine new programs last week and Fox, because baseball playoffs will disrupt their schedule next month, brought several new shows on weeks ago.
The biggest story was the emergence of Grey’s Anatomy as television’s most popular program last week despite changing nights and going against the CBS powerhouse CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
”The move of Grey’s to Thursday definitely changed the dynamics for us,” said Jeff Bader, head of scheduling at ABC.
Desperate Housewives premiered with lower ratings than last year but higher than when the serial broke off in May, and beat NBC’s Sunday-night football.
CBS can also be encouraged that its revamping of Sunday’s schedule paid off: Without a Trace and Cold Case both finished in Nielsen’s top 10. But on Thursday, with the challenge from ABC and the launch of the new Shark, CBS is weaker on a night it dominated the past few years.
After two discouraging years, NBC was pleased with landing in second place behind ABC in the 18-to-49-year-old demographic that advertisers seek. Its premiere of Heroes this Monday also showed signs of being a success.
”It shows that we’re back on the playing field,” Metcalf said.
Fox’s increase over last year indicated that viewers were eager to see their returning shows, noted Preston Beckman, its programming chief. Fox’s problem is that with a few extra weeks of experience, it’s becoming clear that none of their new shows are working particularly well. One, the comedy Happy Hour, has already been temporarily shelved.
For premiere week, CBS averaged 13 million viewers (8.3 rating, 14 share), ABC had 12.3 million (8.0, 13), NBC had 11.1 million (7.1, 12), Fox had 7.5 million (4.7, 8), the new CW had 2.8 million (1.9, 3) and the i network had 630,000 (0.4, 1).
Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision had 3.5 million viewers (2.0, 3), Telemundo had 940,000 (0.6, 1) and TeleFutura had 560,000 (0.3, 1).
NBC’s Nightly News returned to first place in the evening news ratings race, averaging 8.2 million viewers (5.7, 12). Katie Couric’s CBS Evening News was second with 7.7 million (5.5, 11) and ABC’s ”World News” had 7.6 million (5.3, 11).
A ratings point represents 1,102,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation’s estimated 110.2 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.
For the week of Sept. 18-24, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: Grey’s Anatomy, ABC, 25.41 million; Desperate Housewives, ABC, 24.09 million; CSI:Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 22.58 million; Dancing With the Stars, ABC, 18.17 million; CSI: Miami, CBS, 17.62 million; Without a Trace, CBS, 17.56 million; Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, ABC, 17.49 million; Survivor: Cook Islands, CBS, 17.43 million; Cold Case, CBS, 16.27 million; CSI: NY, CBS, 16.11 million.