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But the return of CBS’ “Survivor” took a significant ratings hit, Fox’s “Bones” and “Fringe” slipped, and the second week of The CW’s “Vampire Diaries” fell.
Fox and NBC had tight struggle for first place in the adult demo with Fox edging out a win in the early ratings, airing the premiere of “Bones” (10.1 million viewers, 3.0 preliminary adults 18-49 rating) and second season debut of “Fringe” (7.8 million, 2.9) — both slipped 9% from last fall’s debuts on different nights, though “Bones” matched its Thursday opener last January.
On NBC, the “SNL Weekend Update” (5.7 million, 2.0) provided a modest jump-start to the comedy block, followed by the ho-hum premiere of “Parks and Recreation” (5 million, 2.1), down 30% from its debut last April. At 9 p.m., “The Office” (8.1 million, 4.0) was down 18% for its lowest-rated premiere in four years — yet was also the evening’s highest-rated show. The debut of “Community” (7.7 million, 3.7) impressed at 9:30 p.m. “Community” was below last year’s unusually strong “30 Rock” premiere in the spot, it represents the largest retention of “The Office” by a program other than “SNL” specials. At 10 p.m., Night 4 of “The Jay Leno Show” (8.5 million, 2.7) fell 23% from Wednesday’s episode and won its hour.
CBS was third , the 19th edition of “Survivor” (11.5 million, 3.5) was down 22% from last fall for its lowest-rated opening night ever, actually tying its second worst performance to date excluding specials. Yet “Survivor” still won its 8 p.m. time period and was followed by repeats. ABC had repeats. On The CW — sigh — “Vampire Diaries” (3.8 million, 1.6) was impacted by the increased competition, falling 27% in the adult demo. But the freshman drama did better in the CW’s target demo of women 18-34 (2.6), where it only fell 16%. “Supernatural” (2.8 million, 1.2) slipped slightly this week.
Fox is very pleased with last night’s performance. The network used to air modest-rated reality shows like “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader” on Thursdays. Fox sensed an opportunity to invade TV’s most lucrative advertising night with scripted last season and began shifting stronger shows into the slots. Putting “Fringe” into 9 p.m. is particularly seen as a bold gamble considering its arguably the toughest time period on broadcast.
Although last night’s margin for victory for the network was as thin as could be, and still could shift in the nationals, Fox has never won a Thursday fall premiere night against NBC before and last night made double-digit time-period gains. Breaking out champagne seems premature, however, with the return of CBS and ABC’s scripted heavy hitters like “CSI” and “Grey’s Anatomy” still to come.
Overall, despite the impressive performance by “Community” and Fox’s time-period gains, this is a downbeat morning for broadcast.
After last week, itseemed as though major networks might be able to avoid anotherSeptember of shows returning down 8%, 10%, 12% in the ratings. If lastnight is any indication, we’re in for some rough sledding for returningshows.
At least new programs are definitely gettingsome serious sampling. The premiere ratings for “The Jay Leno Show,” “Glee,” “Community” and “Vampire Diaries” prove viewers are willing to check out new programs in enough numbers to create a new hit … if a show can keep them coming back for more.
UPDATE: In the nationals, “Survivor,” “Bones,” “Fringe,” “Office” and “Community” all climbed a tenth of a rating point — which makes the changes very easy to describe to you.
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