The official opening of the 2009-10 TV season brought a ton of viewers back to the broadcast networks and kicked off what is likely to be an intensely competitive fall. Here’s a look at who did well and who flamed out on opening night, based on the final same-day ratings from Nielsen.
Winner: “House.” The show’s two-hour season premiere drew 17.13 million viewers on FOX, nearly 4 million above its average for last season, and won the adults 18-49 demographic that advertisers love by a wide margin (FOX scored a 6.7 rating in the demo, compared to 4.1 for second-place CBS).
Loser: NBC. “Heroes” failed to move the needle at all from where it ended last season, averaging 6.1 million viewers and a 2.8 rating in adults 18-49 for its two-hour premiere. The much smaller lead-in — and the first night of original competition from ABC and CBS at 10 o’clock — pushed “The Jay Leno Show” to its lowest mark by far in its short life: 5.8 million viewers and a 1.8 in the demo.
It will be interesting to see how much Leno’s show rises and falls based on its lead-in now that the season is in full swing. There was some evidence of that last week, with each show following Monday’s curiosity-driven premiere correlating pretty closely to what aired on NBC in the previous hour.
Winner: “The Big Bang Theory.” CBS’ move of the show to 9:30 p.m., following the still-strong “Two and a Half Men” (13.63 million), paid off handsomely. “Big Bang” snagged its biggest audience (12.96 million) and best household (7.9/11) and 18-49 (4.7) ratings ever, and it actually built on its lead-in among younger viewers. Reruns of the show at 9:30 over the summer followed a similar pattern, but CBS has to be pleased to see the move pay off when it counts more.
Winner, to some extent: “Dancing with the Stars.” The season nine kickoff of “DWTS” was still the night’s most-watched show, holding off “House” with 17.79 million viewers. That number is off a good bit from last fall’s premiere, which checked in at 21.34 million viewers. Still, nearly 18 million viewers is nothing to sneeze at, and with “House” going back to its normal one-hour running time next week, there’s no reason to think ABC is all that worried.
Loser (of its lead-in audience): “Castle.” ABC’s crime drama lost about half its “Dancing” lead-in and finished with 9.26 million viewers, on par with what it did last spring. While in raw numbers it’s not that bad (it finished second across the board at 10, behind “CSI: Miami”), the retention was not great.
Incomplete: “Accidentally on Purpose.” The night’s lone new show did a good job of holding onto the audience from “How I Met Your Mother,” keeping nearly all of its lead-in’s viewers (8.9 million vs. 9.1 million) and adults 18-49 rating (3.3 vs. 3.6). Proof of its staying power will come in the next few weeks.
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