The Programming Insider: Fox Dominates; CBS a Distant No. 2

Idol almost doubles a night of repeats on CBS

PRIME-TIME METERED MARKET THURSDAY RATINGS:  Idol Fueled Fox Wins; The Office the Only Bight Spot on NBC

Thursday 4/21/11

Yesterday's Winners:

American Idol (Fox), The Office (NBC), Bones (Fox), The Mentalist R (CBS)

Yesterday's Losers:

Community (NBC), The Paul Reiser Show (NBC), Parks and Recreation (NBC), 30 Rock (NBC)

Ratings Breakdown:

Fox led the Thursday overnight troops, almost doubling second-place CBS.  And that impressive victory is a result, of course, of mega-hit American Idol.  In the distant No. 3 spot was NBC, followed by ABC and, of course, The CW.

The live American Idol Results Show kicked-off the evening for Fox with a 13.6 rating/23 share in the overnights from 8-9 p.m., building from a 12.6/22 to a 14.5/24.  That led into Bones at a dominant 7.2/12 at 9 p.m. (and retention out of the 8:30 p.m. portion of American Idol of 50 percent).  Bones, however, is not a show that needs lead-in support.  It can clearly stand on its own and has for years.

In an entire evening of encore telecasts (as the old saying goes, “April repeats brings May originals”), CBS had nothing unusual to report with its combination of The Big Bang Theory (#2: 5.1/ 9), Rules of Engagement (#2: 3.7/ 6), CSI (#2: 5.3/ 9) and The Mentalist (#1: 7.0/12).  Next season, look for CBS to schedule a new comedy at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, while finding something else for 9 p.m.  My prediction is CSI will move into the Friday 9 p.m. hour (in place of CSI: NY) for what will probably be its final season in 2011-12.

In week two news, embarrassing The Paul Reiser Show on NBC dipped to last at 8:30 p.m., with a mere 2.0/ 3 in the overnights.  Compared to its anemic opener on April 14 (2.5/ 4), that was a loss of 20 percent.  Unfortunately, viewers are not “mad about” Paul Reiser, which dipped by 20 percent from modest lead-in Community (#4: 2.5/ 4 at 8 p.m.).  Next on NBC was demo friendly The Office (#3: 4.7/ 8), which deserves accolades for building by a whopping 135 percent out of The Paul Reiser Show, followed by Parks and Recreation (#3: 3.4/ 5) and the hour-long 100th episode of wacky 30 Rock (#2: 3.2/ 5), which still performed marginally despite facing repeats of Private Practice on ABC and aforementioned The Mentalist on CBS.

What NBC desperately needs on Thursday is a mass appeal hit sitcom (translation: a comedy taped in front of a live audience).

Mirroring CBS, ABC populated the evening with all repeats – Wipeout (#3: 2.8/ 5), Grey’s Anatomy (#4: 3.0/ 5) and Private Practice (#3: 2.0/ 3).  And The CW aired its most-watched series, The Vampire Diaries (#5: 2.1/ 4), followed by on-the-fence Nikita (#5: 1.4/ 2).  Given The CW’s current rating woes, chances are Nikita will be back next season.

Source: Nielsen Media Research data (R = repeat)


What’s Hot/What’s Not

Freshman Wednesday Report Card:

Two recent sitcom entries aired on Wednesday, Breaking In on Fox and two episodes of Happy Endings on ABC, and both left little to be desired.  On paper, 7.46 million viewers (#2) and a dominant 2.5 rating/6 share among adults 18-49 looks positive for Breaking In at 9:30 p.m.  But retention out of mega-hit American Idol (Viewers: 22.54 million; A18-49: 7.1/20 from 8-9:30 p.m.) was lacking at 33 percent in total viewers and 35 percent in the demo.  While nothing can hold the Idol lead-in, erosion of this magnitude is too severe.