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After two years of new shows opening to middling numbers, broadcastis showing renewed signs of life this fall.
Many veteran series continue to decline, but audiences are checkingout new programs in higher-than-expected numbers.
“Viewers have shown an encouraging willingness to sample newshows,” said John Rash, senior vp-director of media negotiations atCampbell-Mithun. “It’s proving that the death of the scriptedseries, let along network TV, is greatly exaggerated.”
After only a few weeks, broadcasters have rolled out six new showsthat generated at least a 4.0 rating among adults 18-49 in theirseries premiere: NBC’s “The Jay Leno Show” (5.3); Fox’s “TheCleveland Show” (4.9); CBS’ “NCIS: Los Angeles (4.4); and ABC’s”Cougar Town” (4.4), “Modern Family” (4.2) and “FlashForward”(4.0).
By comparison, at the same point last year, the highest-rated newshow was “Worst Week” (3.8), which benefited from the biggestcomedy lead-in on TV in CBS’ Monday night block.
“It was really terrific week for network TV,” CBS scheduling chiefKelly Kahl said. “People sampled new shows, they came back forreturning shows. Practically every network had something to feelgood about. We got people back in the house.”
Even syndication, which has been particularly hard hit in recentyears, has a reason to celebrate. Freshman talker “The Dr. Oz Show”has performed very well in daytime.
” ‘Dr. Oz’ appears to be a hit,” said Bill Carroll, vp-director ofprogramming at Katz Television. “It’s still too early to know forsure, but the early numbers are promising.”
Carroll gave some credit for broadcast’s numbers to Jay Leno’snightly primetime show, saying that all the media attentionsurrounding the program and relatively early premiere might havehelped other premieres.
“After being focused on cable all summer, all of the attentionaround Jay Leno caused viewers to check out broadcast again,” hesaid.
While every network seems to have a reason to celebrate this week,each also has a couple of concerns.
CBS generated a jaw-dropping rating for the return of Tuesday’s”NCIS” and its new spinoff and also drew a sizable audience for newdrama “The Good Wife.” Longtime Thursday procedural “CSI: CrimeScene Investigation,” however, continues to take worrisome hitssince the departure of William Petersen last year.
Fox’s “House” was one of the few veteran shows to improve thisfall, and the network’s Thursday lineup of “Bones” and “Fringe” hasimproved the network’s time periods in the evening, though “Fringe”is taking a pounding from tough competition in the slot.
ABC opened new Wednesday comedies “Modern Family” and “Cougar Town”to network TV’s biggest half-hour premieres in two years, whilealso launching Thursday night drama “FlashForward” to a terrificnumber for its early 8 p.m. time period. The ABC pilots also pickedup some encouraging additional sampling on Friday night in repeats.Sunday’s “Desperate Housewives” fell steeply, but fellow top-ratedsoap “Grey’s Anatomy” only dropped modestly on Thursday.
“Jay Leno” continues to draw better-than-expected numbers for NBCwhile also steadily eroding. Wednesday’s “Mercy” opened modestly,and Thursday’s second episode of “Community” fell more than onemight hope.
The second week for the CW’s “Vampire Diaries” managed not to blinkin the face of increased fire, while the network swapped outWednesday’s “The Beautiful Life: TBL” — which was canceled aftertwo airings — for “Melrose Place” repeats in hopes of pumping somelife into the soap remake.
“Oftentimes the media is writing about massive failure across the board at this point during the fall,” said Fox scheduling chief Preston Beckman. “The product is good this year and I think there’s a lot of good news for broadcast television.”
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