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ABC Gets Powerful Wednesday Win

Sep 22, 2005  •  Post A Comment

NBC’s heavily promoted premiere of “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart” got stranded up against the “Lost”-driven lineup that gave ABC its strongest opening Wednesday night in 10 years among total viewers and in nine years in the 18 to 49 demographic.

According to early national data from Nielsen Media Research, ABC beat NBC in total viewers for the night by 8.1 million people and beat CBS in the 18 to 49 demo by 121 percent to decisively take the third night of the 2005-06 season. For the night, ABC averaged 18.2 million viewers, while NBC averaged 10.1 million.

At 9 p.m. (ET) “Lost” hit a series high in total viewers (23.1 million) and the 18 to 49 demo (a 10 rating), up 4.4 million and 47 percent compared with its debut a year ago in total viewers and the 18 to 49 demo, respectively. It goes into the books as ABC’s biggest fall premiere in a decade in total viewers and in nine years in the demo.

At 10 p.m., ABC’s “Invasion” debuted as the time slot winner, beating NBC’s “Law & Order” by 3.8 million viewers and CBS’s repeat of last year’s Quentin Tarantino-directed “CSI” season finale by 58 percent in the demo.

For NBC, it was a night on which there were a few signs of hope but nothing to celebrate.

Martha Stewart’s “Apprentice” built in its second half-hour and finished with a 2.5 in the demo, down 24 percent from last year’s debut of “Hawaii,” which went on to early cancellation.

At 9 p.m., “The E-Ring” built from “Martha Stewart” to a 2.6 in the demo but still ranks as NBC’s weakest Wednesday night scripted premiere since 1991.

At 10 p.m., “Law & Order” opened its 16th season with a third-place 4.1 in the demo, down 25 percent from its premiere last fall.

CBS opened its night in fourth place and with noticeable season-to-season losses by “Still Standing” (2.1) and “Yes, Dear” (2.5) in their new time slots that put them up against ABC’s recap special” Destination Lost.”

Fox finished the night in fifth place in the demo thanks to “So You Think You Can Dance” (2.5) and the second episode of “Head Cases” (1.3), which was canceled Thursday.

UPN’s two-hour season debut of “America’s Next Top Model” (2.3) was up 28 percent year to year.

For the WB, Wednesday was a repeat “One Tree Hill” (0.6) and a repeat of the “Just Legal” pilot (0.6).