'Mars' off in new slot; Couric foray founders

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Wednesday night in the ratings saw a possible pivot for "American Idol," Katie Couric venturing into primetime, the return of a freshman drama and the second-week performances of a couple of key shows.

First, the return of ABC's "Life on Mars" to a new time period didn't result in the surge of new viewers for which the network had hoped.

"Mars" (6.5 million, 2.1 rating/ 6 share in adults 18-49) hit a season low and was down 25% from its Thursday average when it aired after "Grey's Anatomy." Despite heavy promotion during "Lost," the return of "Mars" placed last in the 10 p.m. hour.

In their second weeks, "Lost" (11.1 million, 4.9/12) and Fox's new investigative drama "Lie to Me" (12.1 million, 4.4/10) declined slightly while airing head-to-head at 9 p.m., even though CBS aired a repeat in the hour. The shows nearly deadlocked during their premieres last week, but their ratings gap widened Wednesday. "Lost" fell a mere tenth of a point in the adult demo, but "Lie" was down 10% — though "Lie" did better among total viewers, retaining 98% of its premiere.

The "Lie" slip comes despite lead-in "Idol" (27 million, 10.2/26) improving. After some worrisome slippage last week, Wednesday's rating demonstrated growth and surpassed the show's performance during the same week last year.

The Eye aired repeats in addition to "CBS Evening News With Katie Couric" (5.7 million, 1.2/3). The Couric special was billed as the first primetime edition of the show. But "Evening News" easily ranked as the lowest-rated original program of the night. CBS said the event was meant to be a one-time thing, merely a primetime sampling opportunity for the newscast.

"We were able to achieve our objective of exposing the 'CBS Evening News' to an incremental audience and hopefully attracting more viewers to our 6:30 broadcast," said Sean McManus, president of CBS News and CBS Sports. (partialdiff)
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