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Networks Down in Premiere Week

Sep 29, 2003  •  Post A Comment

ABC was the only broadcast network up year to year after the first four nights of the broadcast season. Thanks to strong performances by its Tuesday and Wednesday lineups, ABC is up 12 percent in adults 18 to 49 and up 10 percent in total viewers.
Despite winning three of the first four nights of the new season in adults 18 to 49, NBC was down 6 percent in the demo and down 1 percent in total viewers. CBS was down 20 percent in adults 18 to 49 and down 13 percent in total viewers.
The WB-which saw dismal ratings on several nights last week-was down 36 percent in adults 18 to 49 and down 25 percent in total viewers. UPN beat The WB three nights in a row last week but also saw year-to-year declines. UPN is down 15 percent in adults 18 to 49 and down 18 percent in total viewers.
Fox, which hasn’t yet launched its new programming, was down 26 percent in adults 18 to 49 and 25 percent in total viewers.
Premiere week highlights include:
Thursday
Adults 18 to 49: NBC, 10.3/27
Total viewers: NBC, 21.4 million
NBC won the first Thursday night battle of the new season in adults 18 to 49 and total viewers, but CBS was right on its heels in total viewers with 21.2 million, according to Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data.
“Coupling,” NBC’s latest attempt at creating another hit Thursday night sitcom, debuted with adults 18 to 49 ratings that were 12 percent lower than “Good Morning, Miami’s” debut in the same time slot last year (7.8/19 vs. 8.0/12).
CBS’s “CSI” juggernaut was the most-watched show of the night with 26.9 million total viewers. It also won the hour in adults 18 to 49 with a 9.7/24, beating NBC’s “Will & Grace”/ “Coupling” combo.
NBC’s “Friends” kicked off its last season with a super-size episode that won its time slot in adults 18 to 49 (11.8/33) and total viewers (24/5 million). “Survivor,” which aired against “Friends” and part of “Will & Grace,” finished a strong second in its time slot with a 7.5/21 in adults 18 to 49 and 19.9 million total viewers.
The 10 p.m. battle was won by “ER,” which posted a 10.7/28 in adults 18 to 49 and 23.2 million total viewers. It beat CBS’s second-place “Without a Trace” by an 88 percent margin in adults 18 to 49. However, “Trace”-which often beat “ER” in reruns this summer-did cut into “ER’s” advantage. A year ago “ER” beat “Trace” by 7.4 rating points in adults 18 to 49 and by 10.5 million viewers. Last night “ER’s” advantage in adults 18 to 49 was 5 rating points and 6.5 million total viewers.
Wednesday
Adults 18 to 49: NBC, 6/16
Total viewers: NBC, 16.6 million
NBC’s resurgent “West Wing” and stalwart “Law & Order” edged out strong performances from ABC’s hour-long “My Wife and Kids” and two-hour “The Bachelor” to win Wednesday night in adults 18 to 49 by a tenth of a ratings point.
The 14-year-old “Law & Order” was the highest-rated show of the night in adults 18 to 49 with a 7.6/20 and scored its most-watched season premiere ever with 20.9 million total viewers. The Aaron Sorkin-less “West Wing” won the young-viewer battle in the competitive 9 p.m.-to-10 p.m. time slot with a 6.2/16. “The Bachelor” finished second in its 9 p.m.-to-11 p.m. time slot with a 6.0/16. “The Bachelor” had its highest opening night adults 18 to 49 rating and total viewers (12.5 million) in four editions. (“The Bachelorette,” though, did open to bigger numbers last year.)
While the finale of CBS’s “Big Brother” finished third in its 9 p.m. time slot, it still had a strong performance with a 4.2/11 and 10.7 million total viewers. CBS’s new David E. Kelley drama “Brotherhood of Poland, N.H.” didn’t fare nearly as well, pulling a third-place 2.6/7 in adults 18 to 49 and 8.3 million viewers from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m.
From 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. ABC’s “My Wife and Kids” dominated the hour with a 5.8/17 in adults 18 to 49-41 percent ahead of NBC’s second-place “Ed”-and 13.6 million viewers.
The WB had a disastrous night. Its “Hilary Duff’s Birthday” at 8 p.m. barely registered with a dismal last-place 0.7/2 in adults 18 to 49 and a mere 2.3 million viewers. A repeat of the first episode of “One Tree Hill” managed only a 0.7/2 in adults 18 to 49 and 2 million viewers.
UPN saw a slight uptick for “Enterprise” week to week (1.9/6 vs. 1.8/6), while “Jake 2.0” held steady at a 1.0-a 47 percent drop from its lead-in.
Tuesday
Adults 18 to 49: ABC, 5/13
Total viewers: CBS and NBC, 12.2 million each
The season premiere of “8 Simple Rules … for Dating My Teenage Daughter” helped propel ABC to victory in the adults 18 to 49 demo. The first of three episodes filmed before star John Ritter’s death, it scored a whopping 7/21 in the demo and 17 million total viewers.
Benefiting from the lead-in, ABC’s new sitcom “I’m With Her” won its time period in adults 18 to 49 (5.7/16) and in total viewers (13.2 million).
CBS’s “Navy NCIS,” a spinoff of former time slot occupant “JAG,” got strong sampling with 13 million viewers tuning in. It finished fourth in adults 18 to 49 (2.7/8).
“Law & Order: SVU’s” move to Tuesdays at 10 p.m. paid dividends for NBC. It won its time slot by a 37 percent margin in adults 18 to 49 over ABC’s second-place “NYPD Blue” and gave NBC a 27 percent increase over its year-ago premiere week number in that time slot.
Monday
Adults 18 to 49: NBC, 5.7/15
Total viewers: CBS, 16.4 million
A two-hour “Fear Factor” helped drive NBC to its first outright victory in adults 18 to 49 on premiere night since 1988. The strong “Fear” lead-in pushed viewers to sample new drama “Las Vegas.” “Vegas” finished third in adults 18 to 49 (5/13) and total viewers (12.3 million) but was up against tough time slot competition from CBS’s “CSI: Miami” (5.9/15 and 17.4 million) and ABC’s “Monday Night Football” (7/19 and 17.3 million).
CBS’s “Everybody Loves Raymond” was the most-watched show of the night with 20.1 million total viewers and won its time slot in adults 18 to 49 (6.5/16). New sitcom “Two and a Half Men” gave CBS its best retention of any program following “Raymond.” It retained 91 percent of “Raymond’s” 18 to 49 audience with a 5.9/14 and 89 percent of total viewers with 18.4 million.
UPN’s sitcom block grew 22 percent in adults 18 to 49 over premiere night last year. The combination of “Girlfriends” and “Half & Half” beat The WB’s “Everwood” in adults 18 to 49, but The WB won the night in the demo, thanks to a strong performance by “7th Heaven.”