The fall broadcast ratings battle continued to heat up Tuesday night, with two new Fox series and one CBS drama all making their debut. But in the end it was a returning veteran, going head-to-head with NBC’s strong talent competition series “The Voice,” that won the night.
CBS’s “NCIS” had its season premiere at 8 p.m., up against a one-hour installment of “The Voice,” and the veteran drama squeaked out a narrow win in the key 18-49 demo, delivering a 4.1 average rating to a 4.0 for the NBC show, according to Nielsen overnight figures cited by TVbytheNumbers.com.
The hour was hotly contested, with Fox rolling out the season premiere of “New Girl” (2.7 average rating in 18-49) and the new show “Ben and Kate” (2.0), while ABC had the Wednesday premiere of “Dancing with the Stars: All Stars” (2.0 for the two-hour show).
In total viewers, CBS delivered a beatdown to the other networks: “NCIS” averaged 20.2 million to 11.3 million for “The Voice,” while ABC’s “Dancing” drew 11.6 million on average for the two hours. The best Fox could do was 5.3 million for "New Girl."
CBS kept the pressure on with a strong season debut for “NCIS: Los Angeles” at 9 p.m., pulling a 3.4 average in 18-49 and 16.7 million viewers. That set up the network’s debut of the new drama “Vegas” at 10 p.m., where it settled for a 2.5 in viewers 18-49 — CBS’s lowest-rated Tuesday drama premiere since the generally forgotten “Century City” served up a 2.1 in March 2004. “Vegas” did beat its time-slot competitors, ABC’s “Private Practice” (1.9) and NBC’s “Parenthood” (1.8).
While CBS’s numbers were better all night than the competition, they represented a dip across the board for the Tiffany Network. “NCIS” was down two-tenths of a ratings point from last year’s premiere (4.3), while “NCIS: LA” was also down two-tenths, from last season’s 3.6.
Fox plugged in a second episode of “New Girl” at 9 p.m., equaling the earlier episode’s 2.7 average in the 18-49 demo and also equaling its time slot competition from NBC’s “Go On.” That led in to the series premiere of Fox’s “The Mindy Project,” which beat NBC’s “The New Normal,” 2.4 to 2.0.
The numbers for prime time overall show CBS on top in the 18-49 demo with a 3.3 average rating, ahead of NBC (2.7 average), Fox (2.5) and ABC (2.0). CBS won by a much wider margin in total viewers, averaging 17.2 million to 9.9 million for ABC, 7.4 million for NBC and 4.9 million for Fox.