‘Survivor’ Strong Among Early Bows

Sep 22, 2003  •  Post A Comment

The new broadcast season doesn’t officially start until today, but most of the networks got a jump-start by launching a handful of new and returning series last week.

CBS’s 90-minute premiere of “Survivor: Pearl Islands” crushed the competition last Thursday, averaging an 8.4 rating and 23 share in adults 18 to 49, and 21.5 million total viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research national numbers. It easily won its 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. time slot, albeit with less competition than it will face this week. “Survivor” debuted against reruns of “Friends” on NBC, “That ’70s Show” on Fox and the series premiere of ABC’s new drama “Threat Matrix.”

“Survivor” was also down vs. last year’s one-hour premiere of “Survivor: Thailand,” which pulled 23 million total viewers and a 9.6/28 in adults 18 to 49. Since about 4.5 million viewers on the East Coast were without power Thursday night because of Hurricane Isabel, CBS scheduled a rerun of the premiere episode of “Pearl Islands” for Sunday, Sept. 21, from 9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.

“Threat Matrix” didn’t fare so well in its premiere, pulling a third-place 2.2/6 in adults 18 to 49 and 7.6 million viewers. ABC also debuted “Extreme Makeover,” which finished third from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. with a 3.1/8 in adults 18 to 49 and 8.5 million viewers.

The second episodes of NBC’s Tuesday sitcoms “Whoopi” and “Happy Family” saw double-digit ratings declines week to week. “Whoopi” dropped 32 percent to a third-place 3.7/12 in adults 18 to 49 and “Family” fell 33 percent to a third-place 3.4/10. The sitcoms were up against ABC’s special “John Ritter: Life of Laughter,” which won the time period with a 5.0/15.

But the sitcoms got beat in some of the younger demos by UPN’s “One on One” and “All of Us,” which premiered that night. “One on One” ranked second in teens in its time period with a 2.2/9 and “All of Us” finished third in persons 12 to 34 with a 2.3/8, ahead of NBC’s “Family.”

UPN’s new Tuesday lineup was up 13 percent in adults 12 to 34 and up 7 percent in adults 18 to 49, compared with the same Tuesday premiere night last year.

Fox ended its summer run of “The O.C.” last Tuesday with a first-place 4.1/11 in adults 18 to 49 and a 3.7/10 average since it began. “The O.C.” was scheduled to return after baseball in a Thursday 9 p.m. time slot, but Fox is reconsidering that move and is looking at other time slots.

However, one source said if “The O.C.” moves, Fox would not abandon its much-publicized strategy of attacking Thursday nights with young-skewing dramas Most likely repeats of a new series such as “Skin” would fill the Thursday slot.

If Fox wants to keep its announced schedule intact as much as possible, that doesn’t leave many options for scheduling “The O.C.” Wednesday seems like the most likely candidate.

Fox traditionally has done well on that night with young dramas such as “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “Party of Five,” and the network has only six episodes of “Cedric the Entertainer” to burn off on Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. Fox might find it more valuable to ax “Cedric” and move “Bernie Mac” to another night to give “The O.C.” the Wednesday slot against an older-skewing “The West Wing” on NBC and an aging “Bachelor” franchise on ABC.