Photo Finish For 'Kid Nation' and 'Kitchen Nightmares' in Reality Premiere Battle
September 20, 2007 9:13 AM
UPDATED 3 p.m.: Last night's trio of major broadcast network premieres resulted in a three-way tie for first place.
CBS's controversial "Kid Nation," Fox's Kelsey Grammer sitcom "Back to You" and Fox's reality makeover series "Kitchen Nightmares" all earned a 3.1 rating among adults 18 to 49.
The figures are based on the national Nielsen ratings, which bumped up "Kid Nation" a notch since this morning's preliminary tallies. A 3.1 rating is considered a gray-area premiere figure, neither impressive nor embarrassing, particularly for reality shows.
For CBS, the rating means "Kid Nation" won the 8 p.m. hour. For Fox, "Back to You" held even with CBS for the first half of 8 p.m. and was up 24 percent in the demo from last year's "Bones" season premiere.
At 9 p.m., "Kitchen Nightmares" won the hour, improving over last year's debut in the time period, but down from the Monday night season premiere of Gordon Ramsay's other Fox series, "Hell's Kitchen," in June.
Among total viewers, the showdown was slightly more diverse: 9.5 million watched "Back to You," 9.4 million tuned in to watch "Kid Nation" and 6.6 million checked out "Kitchen Nightmares."
Overnight reviews on “Kid Nation” -- which was not screened for critics -- were generally positive. The Los Angeles Times called it “artificial yet adorable.” MSNBC says the kids “were real and rather entertaining.” The New York Post said it was “just an average reality show, yet one that deserves another look.” But the Boston Globe says it’s “as much fun as baby-sitting overtired tots who've had one too many Sweet Tarts.”
The reality series, which has been threatened with advertiser boycotts due to accusations of child exploitation, aired with very few ads. The first commercial break aired after 8:30 p.m. CBS said the premiere was originally supposed to run as a 90-minute episode. Edited down for a one-hour time slot, the show was still longer than usual, clocking in at 58 minutes rather than the typical 44.
"An extended run of programming at top of a new show is a strategy we've used on previous reality shows such as 'Survivor,'" a CBS spokesperson said. "There was less inventory than usual due to the length of the episode. Next week we have a full commercial load."
Other premieres last night include The CW's "America's Next Top Model" (2.5) and "Gossip Girl" (1.7). None of the Wednesday premieres hit high Nielsen notes, or even topped Fox's "K-Ville" debut earlier this week.
Overall, Fox handily won the night with "Back to You," the season premiere of "Til' Death" (2.7 --down 13 percent from last year's premiere) and "Nightmares." The win should help bolster Fox for the upcoming Wednesday night battleground, which next week heats up with the premiere of heavy-hitting scripted shows like ABC's "Private Practice" and NBC's "Bionic Woman."
NBC was second with the time-period premiere of “Deal or No Deal” and the season finale of “Last Comic Standing” (2.9).
CBS was third with "Nation" and repeats.
The CW was fourth with the premieres of "Top Model" and "Gossip Girl," which helped lead the network to a three-way tie with Fox and NBC among The CW's target demographic of adults 18 to 34. "Model" was up 4 percent among adults 18 to 49 compared to last fall's premiere. The "Gossip" opening was modest, though had the highest retention ever of a "Top Model" lead-in among the network's key demo.
ABC was fifth with repeats and a "Grey's Anatomy" special (2.5) and "Primetime" (2.0).