'Dancing With the Stars,' 'House,' 'The Event': Monday night ratings fight

monday-ratings-battle-320.jpgThe 2010-11 TV season is upon us. Everyone has high hopes now, but starting in a day or so we'll start getting a sense of how those hopes stack up against the cold reality of the ratings.

All this week, Zap2it will look at each night of primetime and the ratings prospects for some of the new and returning shows. We'll start at the beginning, with the debut of the Monday-night schedule.

The heavyweight: "Dancing With the Stars." ABC's top-rated unscripted show rebounded from a so-so fall season to score big numbers in the spring, and there seems to be positive buzz about the coming season as well, which features the likes of David Hasselhoff, Audrina Patridge and Bristol Palin. If recent patterns hold, it may not win the adults 18-49 demographic that networks love, but no competitor is likely to challenge it in total viewers.

The veterans: "House" and "Two and a Half Men" are likely to hold on to the second-place spots behind "DWTS" at 8 and 9 p.m. ET, and they could well lead their timeslots in the 18-49 demo (although "House" did erode some in the spring). CBS' "How I Met Your Mother" and "Rules of Engagement" will probably combine for third place at 8. "Chuck" fans are as devoted as any group in TV, but they're not as numerous as most of the competition. We expect it'll hold pretty much in line with last season. At 10, "Castle" has a decent chance to lead the hour in viewers against two new shows. Which brings us to ...

The newbies: Five new shows debut Monday (Sept. 20), and two of them -- NBC's "The Event" and CBS' "Hawaii Five-0" -- are among the most heavily hyped of the season. NBC needs "The Event" to be something of a self-starter; simply holding the "Chuck" audience won't really be enough to make a big splash. "Five-0" has name recognition, but it will be somewhat dependent on another new show ( "Mike & Molly") as its lead-in.

FOX's "Lone Star" is on a lot of best-new-shows lists (including ours) and has a solid lead-in in "House," but we're honestly not sure how it's going to play with viewers. It'll be interesting to see how it and "The Event" do head-to-head, but it's likely a fight for third place. NBC's other newcomer, "Chase," is likely destined for third behind "Five-0" and "Castle."

The wildcard: "Monday Night Football." Depending on who's playing in a given week, the No. 1 or No. 2 show on Monday nights probably won't be on broadcast TV. ESPN will draw in the neighborhood of 15 million viewers for "MNF," at least some of whom would otherwise be watching the broadcast nets.

The DVR factor: "Dancing" and "MNF" will still draw the vast majority of their viewers during their live broadcasts, but with DVRs now in about 40 percent of households, ratings for scripted shows are likely to be affected even more than they have in the past. The gut feeling here is that "Lone Star" and "The Event" will get a sizable bump in the live-plus-7 ratings, while "Chuck" will probably continue to grow by 20 percent or so. The CW's shows are also big DVR gainers, but their starting point is so small that they won't likely overtake anything on the Big Four networks.

What's your Monday viewing schedule look like? Let us know what you're watching, recording and skipping in the comments.

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Photo credits: ABC, FOX, NBC
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