Nets' rich get richer with Live+7

Premiere Week ratings don't help new shows, though

Nielsen Media Research released its Premiere Week Live+7 ratings Monday with a whimper and not a bang.

While about a third of the shows during the first week of the TV season got an average 15% lift from the seven-day ratings, the rest didn't see much of a boost at all. Fifteen programs saw a gain of 1 million or more viewers each; the networks received a boost of 8% in adults 18-49 ratings for the week.

The ratings-rich shows at each of the networks got richer.

ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" was up 2 million viewers and 1 rating point in adults 18-49, compared with the Live+SD (same day) ratings released three weeks ago. CBS' "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" was up 1.9 million viewers and 1 rating point in the demo. NBC's "Heroes" jumped 1.9 million viewers and a 1.1, while Fox's "House" was up 1.9 million viewers and a 0.9. Those were the top four gainers in either category. NBC's "The Office" also did well, gaining a 0.8 in adults 18-49.

But the ratings-poor shows that might have been looking for a boost from the DVR playback didn't get one. Among newcomers, only NBC's "Bionic Woman" and "Journeyman" and ABC's "Private Practice" could see any measurable increase, and it wasn't clear whether that would hold in the second week or whether it was sampling.

"There's nothing that would save a show or make a show look even stronger," Fox scheduling chief Preston Beckman said.

NBC research chief Alan Wurtzel said that the new ratings system makes for an even more Darwinian environment and agreed that it won't save anything that didn't look good in the initial ratings.

"This is not the magic bullet that will make a program struggling into a success," Wurtzel said. "They're not going to get a miracle."

Network executives and Madison Avenue were looking instead to the Commercial+3 ratings that will start rolling out to some clients this week. It's the C3 ratings that will tell the real story; Live+7 is only a good way to tell popularity.

The relationship between C3 and Live+7 still has to be established. But advertisers are more interested in what their C3 ratings will be, Horizon Media research chief Brad Adgate said.

There was some demonstrable good news: The networks' declines don't seem as steep. The Big Four are down only a little bit over last year's Premiere Week in viewership and adults 18-49.

"It confirmed everything we expected," CBS research chief David Poltrack said. "A significant amount of declines that we were seeing on a Live+SD basis were recouped in the Live+7-day ratings."