ABC's Monday lineup puts net back on top

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NEW YORK -- After a near-summerlong hiatus from the top of the ratings heap, ABC waltzed back to the lead with the return of "Dancing With the Stars," while NBC's "Heroes" came back to win in adults 18-49.

The night's ratings winners were ABC's lineup and NBC's "Heroes," but the same couldn't be said for the premieres of "Chuck" and especially "Journeyman." CBS saw several shows drop, including a record low adults 18-49 rating for "CSI: Miami," while "The Big Bang Theory" opened OK, according to preliminary data released Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research.

ABC was the only network of the Big Four to show premiere-night increases in both viewership and adults 18-49 for the entire night, thanks to "Dancing" (21.2 million, 5.8 rating/15 share in adults 18-49) between 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. "Dancing" was up year-to-year from last fall (20.2 million, 5.7/15) but down compared with the spring (21.8 million, 6.4/16).

"Heroes" (14.1 million, 6.5/15) won the 9 p.m. hour in viewership and the demo, though it bowed to the last half-hour of "Dancing" in viewership. "Heroes" was even in viewership compared with last year's season premiere but was up in adults 18-49 from the premiere's 5.9/14.

But the "Heroes" halo didn't extend an hour earlier to "Chuck" (9.3 million, 3.6/9), which despite critical acclaim and heavy promotion barely got above the season premiere of "How I Met Your Mother" (8.3 million, 3.2/9) and the series premiere of "Big Bang" (9.6 million, 3.7/9). "Chuck" had tough comparisons against last premiere Monday's two-hour "Deal or No Deal" special, however. All eyes will look to next week to see if it builds on its audience.

"Mother" was down 16% in adults 18-49 compared with last season's premiere (3.8/10), while "Big Bang" built on its lead-in and performed slightly above the "The Class" (3.6/10). "Prison Break" declined week-to-week but was down 9% in the demo compared with last year.

CBS' comedic centerpiece "Two and a Half Men" (13.4 million, 4.7/11) was down only slightly from last year's season premiere (5.0/12) when it didn't have to compete against "Dancing." "Rules of Engagement" was up compared with its time period premiere though down from its season premiere. Fox dropped sharply at 9 p.m. with the second episode of New Orleans police drama "K-Ville" (6.2 million, 2.3/5).

It's no surprise that the return of CBS' "CSI: Miami" (14.8 million, 4.6/12) prevailed against the last hour of "The Bachelor" (9.6 million, 3.5/9) as well as NBC's premiere of "Journeyman" (9.5 million, 3.7/9). But "CSI: Miami" was down sharply from last season's premiere of 17.6 million viewers and a 5.8/15. It fell to its third-smallest total audience for an original episode since the show debuted in 2002 and the smallest adults 18-49 rating for an original in the show's history.

While one of last season's top failures was "Studio 60," "Journeyman" has its own troubles in the same time slot. It not only failed to equal the premiere of "Studio 60," but it also declined by more than a million viewers between 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

ABC (15.4 million, 4.7/12) led all networks, with NBC (11 million, 4.6/11) and CBS (12.2 million, 4.2/10) taking second place depending on the demo. Fox (6.7 million, 2.7/7) came in fourth, with the CW (1.7 million, 0.7/2) trailing.
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