Home redesign, national security and the search for a soul mate were hot topics on broadcast television last week, thanks to the most recent spate of midseason changes in the networks’ schedules.
The end of NFL regular season football games brought a new calculus to Monday night, with ABC launching a reality-laden schedule with hopes of generating a young female audience.
On ABC, the 8 p.m. (ET) season premiere of the network’s latest reality spinoff “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition: How’d They Do That?” scored a 4.2 in the adults 18 to 49 demo, according to Nielsen Media Research. That was up 180 percent over former time period holder “Life of Luxury.” “How’d They Do That?” won its time period in key female demos, including women 18 to 49 (5.4).
At 9 p.m., a two-hour season premiere of “The Bachelorette”-featuring audience favorite Jen Schefft from a previous season of “The Bachelor”-scored a 4.3 in adults 18 to 49 and attracted 9.12 million viewers. “Bachelorette” grew 39 percent in the demo from its first half-hour (3.6) to the 9:30 p.m. half-hour (5.0).
That was an improvement over the premiere of the previous installment of the franchise. “The Bachelor’s” two-hour debut on Wednesday, Sept. 22, scored a 3.7 in the demo and brought in 8.2 million viewers. Last Monday’s “Bachelorette” outperformed “Bachelor’s” September premiere in women 18 to 34 (6.4 versus 4.6), women 18 to 49 (6.0 versus 5.1) and women 25 to 54 (6.0 versus 5.2).
But that wasn’t enough to beat last January’s “Bachelorette” numbers. The show was down 23 percent in adults 18 to 49 from a 5.6, and down among all key women demos from the 2004 “Bachelorette” Wednesday night premiere.
Jeff Bader, executive VP of ABC Entertainment, said the dating reality show’s shuffle to Monday and the shift of “Alias” two weeks ago from Sundays to Wednesdays were effective. “A scheduling move works only if they work on both ends,” he said. “Both those moves worked.”
As for “How’d They Do That?” Mr. Bader said that although the Monday spinoff covers the same family featured in the previous night’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” the shows can be viewed independently.
“It really is a completely separate show,” he said. “It can absolutely stand on its own.”
On Fox, a special 8 p.m. episode of “24” scored a 4.7 in the demo and 11. 9 million viewers, winning the hour not only in adults 18 to 49 and total viewers but also among men 18 to 34 (4.2), men 25 to 54 (5.8) and adults 25 to 54 (5.4).
At 9 p.m., “24’s” time period premiere, the second episode of the night and the fourth of the season (including Sunday night’s special two-hour premiere) scored a 5.3 in the demo and 13.3 million viewers. That wasn’t enough to take total viewers for the hour from CBS’s Monday 9 p.m. comedy block, but was enough to win the hour in adults 18 to 49, men 18 to 34 (4.3), men 18 to 49 (5.9), men 25 to 54 (6.8) and adults 25 to 54 (6.3).
Preston Beckman, Fox’s executive VP of strategic program planning and research, said “24’s” performance on Monday nights proves its versatility.
“It’s a show that clearly has built up a pretty loyal following over three seasons,” he said. “(executive producer) Joel (Surnow) and I spoke a year ago that this is an appointment show that doesn’t need `American Idol’ and can take on the world on its own, and that appears to be the case. The audience came back.”
Mr. Preston also said that the network is committed to keeping “24” as stable on its schedule as possible, something Fox viewers didn’t get much of in the fall thanks to baseball pre-emptions, show cancellations and numerous time period shuffles.
“We have to start to make it clear to the viewer it will be on continually all season,” he said. “That will be a big selling point in the future.”
On NBC, the second episode of “Medium” at 10 p.m. (ET) was Monday’s highest-scoring show in adults 18 to 49 with a 6.3, tying its performance from its premiere the previous week. It also outperformed a repeat of CBS’s “CSI: Miami,” which garnered a 4.7. “Medium” won the night in total viewers, bringing in 16.34 million.
The fact that the night’s traditional 10 p.m. leader was in reruns on CBS wasn’t lost on Tom Bierbaum, VP of ratings and program information for NBC Universal Television Group.
“To have no drop-off was very encouraging,” he said. “This really is going to remain a tough time period. Over time our expectations are going to be realistic.”
NBC also saw stability on Tuesday from the second original episode of its comedy “Committed,” which dropped 2 percent in the demo compared to its premiere last week (4.4 versus 4.5). “Committed” did drop 32 percent in the demo from the last half-hour of “The Biggest Loser” finale, which scored a 6.5.
“We understand it is not an ideal position for the show, an island of comedy around reality and drama,” Mr. Bierbaum said “We’ve given the show a lot of sampling. We’ll see how it develops from here.”
On Wednesday on NBC, the reality show “Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Model Search” scored a 2.3 in the demo at 8 p.m., down 18 percent from its debut a week earlier. At 9 p.m., ABC’s second “Alias”‘ of the season scored a 5.9 in the demo, down 11 percent from last week’s two-hour premiere and down 25 percent from its “Lost” lead-in.
A second airing is something CBS’s new reality series “The Will” is not likely to get anytime soon. The network announced last week it was pulling the show from its Saturday night schedule after a less-than-stellar premiere.
One more premiere was scheduled for later in the week. On Friday Fox was scheduled to debut its new crime drama “Jonny Zero.”