Nets Upbeat About Early Fall Ratings

With more than a dozen new and returning shows premiering last week, several networks got a jump on the fall season’s official launch. The results were generally positive: Both Fox and the WB drew strong ratings for their Tuesday night lineups, while NBC Universal’s Martha got off to a solid—if not spectacular—start.

The week’s most notable ratings were for Fox’s Tuesday 8 p.m. launch on Sept. 13 of crime show Bones, followed by the second-season return of House at 9 p.m. Bones drew 10.8 million viewers and scored a 3.9/11 among adults 18-49. House logged 15.9 million viewers, with a 5.9/15 in the demo. Preston Beckman, evp of strategic program planning at Fox, said House proved that it no longer needed American Idol as a lead-in. “We knew when the training wheels came off, it would do just fine,” he said.

The WB’s Tuesday night pairing of Gilmore Girls and new thriller Supernatural defied critics’ predictions that the two may not be compatible. Gilmore Girls drew 6.2 million viewers and scored a 3.1/10 among its target audience of adults 18-34. Supernatural retained almost 84 percent of that key demographic.

Of the new syndication launches last week—NBCU’s Martha, Warner Bros.’ Tyra and Twentieth TV’s Judge Alex—Martha premiered to the strongest numbers, logging a four-day average household rating of 2.2/7. Said Barry Wallach, president of NBCU domestic TV distribution, “It’s a better business as a 3 or 4 rating. But at a 2, [Martha] will be around for a long time to come.”