Fox’s new Tuesday night comedy block showed further signs of wear and tear, as freshman series Ben and Kate and The Mindy Project stumbled down the rocky ratings slope.
Per Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, Fox started the night in low gear, drawing just 3.9 million viewers and a 1.7 rating in the 18-49 demo with the Season 3 premiere of Raising Hope . When compared to its year-ago opener, Hope was down 42 percent in total viewers and lost 45 percent of its under-50 audience.
While Hope’s return was very soft for the first leg of a four-segment relay, it’s perhaps more useful to compare last night’s deliveries with the March 6 numbers, which marked the show’s return to its regular 8 p.m. time slot. That episode drew 4.74 million viewers and a 2.1 rating, a difference of 19 percent in the demo.
No matter how you parse the numbers, Hope’s performance undermined an already shaky Ben and Kate. The second installment of the Nat Faxon-Dakota Johnson comedy drew 3.22 million viewers and a 1.6 rating, a drop of 24 percent from the 2.1 it put up during its Sept. 25 premiere.
At 9 p.m., Zooey Deschanel and the New Girl gang continued to serve up appointment television, drawing 4.99 million viewers and a 2.8 in the demo—flat versus the previous week. New Girl made short work of NBC’s Go On, which delivered more viewers (5.82 million) but faltered in the demo (2.1).
Hours after being granted a back-nine order  by NBC, Go On lost 38 percent of its opening 18-49 rating (3.4).
Meanwhile, the 9:30 p.m. battle between The Mindy Project and The New Normal was marked by attrition. Fox’s hotly anticipated Mindy Kaling vehicle  drew 3.68 million and a 1.9, marking a loss of 1 million viewers and 21 percent of the premiere demo, while NBC’s Ryan Murphy comedy fell to 4.5 million viewers/1.7, down three-tenths of a ratings point from last week and 32 percent from the series premiere (2.5).
Like Go On, The New Normal was given a full-season order.
The NBC comedies did not get the sort of lead-in to which they’ve grown accustomed, as a clip-show installment of The Voice drew a season-low 8.48 million viewers and a 3.0 rating between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.
While five of the six sitcoms put up uninspiring numbers, CBS dramas ruled the roost. The network tore through the competition with its twin NCIS  juggernauts—the flagship averaged 18.9 million viewers and a 3.7 rating, while the spinoff NCIS: Los Angeles scared up 14.9 million viewers and a 3.1.
At 10 p.m., the second episode of the new mob procedural Vegas averaged 12.1 million viewers and a 2.0 in the demo, outpacing ABC’s Private Practice (6.01 million/1.6) and NBC’s Parenthood (4.45 million/1.6).
Versus the 14.1 million viewers and 2.5 rating it notched in its series premiere, last night’s Vegas was down 20 percent. That said, the episode put on a stronger showing among adults 25-54 (2.9), the demo against which CBS makes its ratings guarantees.
Not helping matters at 10 p.m. was the FX drama series Sons of Anarchy , which put up particularly lurid numbers for a basic-cable net. Sons averaged a series-high 4.6 million viewers and a 2.4 in the dollar demo, and while the smash-mouth outlaw motorcycle gang probably didn’t shake up the Private Practice/Neighbors crowd, it could easily have contributed to the steep Vegas declines.
Tuesday night also marked the official start of the CW broadcast season. The return of Rachel Bilson and Hart of Dixie  delivered 1.53 million viewers and an 0.8 in the 18-34 target demo, flat versus last year’s series debut.
As expected, CBS won the night in total reach and ratings, averaging 15.3 million viewers and a 2.9 in the 18-49 demo. The Tiffany Network also sauntered away with its target demo, averaging a 4.0 rating among the 25-54 set.