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Ratings Chart Attack! is the TV industry’s destination for a daily dose of prime-time ratings. Delivering the daily scoop on which shows are scoring. TVWeek’s Sergio Ibarra calls the winners and losers, and what it means to broadcast network programmers. From day-in, day-out ratings to long-view trends and noteworthy performances, Ratings Chart Attack! delivers.

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‘Lost’ Posts Lowest Debut TV Ratings, ‘Idol’ Rules

January 22, 2009 10:49 AM

ABC’s “Lost” posted its lowest-rated premiere, while Fox’s “American Idol” continued its prime-time dominance Wednesday night, lending a strong lead in for the debut of “Lie to Me.”

Lost

“Lost” averaged a 5.0/12 (10 million), ranking as the No. 2 show of the night. Last night’s debut was down 25% from the season four debut, when the show opened on a Thursday night in a less competitive environment. It marks the lowest-rated season opener in the show’s history. “Lost,” however, was up 2% from its season four finale last May.

ABC opened the night with a special series recap “Lost: Destiny Calls” (3.3/8, 8.5 million), giving the network a second-place finish in the demographic with an average 4.5/11, and third among viewers with an average 10.4 million. Excluding for nights featuring the Country Music Awards, ABC had its highest-rated Wednesday since May 2007.

“Idol’s” second Wednesday episode of the season scored a 9.6 rating/25 share among adults 18-49 and drew 25.4 million viewers, according to preliminary Nielsen Media Research information. Last night’s episode fell 19% in the demographic from last week's Wednesday premiere. Last year "Idol" dipped 14% between first- and second-Wednesday ratings.

The show was up 7% over the night before, when “Idol” went up against presidential inauguration coverage. This marks the second week in a row that a Wednesday “Idol” improved over the night before.

In the 9 p.m. hour, the debut of “Lie to Me” posted a 4.9 rating and 12.4 million viewers, according to time-zone adjusted Nielsen numbers ordered by Fox. The show’s performance benefited from the “Idol” lead in and ranks as the top scripted show in “Idol”-ratings retention. “Lie” was still down from the premiere of the reality game show “The Moment of Truth,” which debuted to a 10.2/24 in the time slot last year.

“Lie to Me” ranked as the No. 3 show of the night, helping give Fox an average 7.4/18 (19.3 million) in the fast national ratings, and first place for the night.

CBS placed third with a 2.6/7 (11 million) for the night in the younger demographic and second in total viewers. New episodes of “The New Adventures of Old Christine” (2.1/6, 7.4 million), “Gary Unmarried” (2.2/5, 7.1 million) and “Criminal Minds” (3.5/8, 13.9 million) rose 11%, 5% and 9%, respectively, in the demographic compared with last week when both shows went up against “Idol’s” season premiere. At 10 p.m. “CSI: NY” (3.0/8, 11.8 million) fell 6% from the week before.

NBC came in fourth with a 1.9/5 (6.3 million) average for the night. “Knight Rider” (1.5/4, 5 million) was down one-tenth of a point form last week. An encore episode of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (1.7/4, 5.6 million) led to a new episode of “Law & Order” (2.5/6, 8.5 million), which posted a 9% increase over last week.

The CW finished fifth with an average 0.5/1 (1.1 million). A new episode of “13-Fear Is Real” posted a 0.5/1 (1.4 million), followed by an encore of “90210” with a 0.4/1 (0.8 million). Among women 18-34 the network averaged a 0.8 rating.

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