Winter Press Tour Highlights from CBS and NBC


Monday, January 11, 2010
Live from The Winter Press Tour

Primetime Ratings:

Weekend Highlights


Winter Press Tour 2010:

The Scoop from Pasadena


On the Air Tonight:

Prime-Time Programming Options


TV Tidbits:

Notes of Interest from The Winter Press Tour


TV Trivia Time:

No Emmy Love for This Friend


Prime-Time Ratings:

Weekend Highlights

Friday 1/08/10

Note: The following results are based on the fast affiliate ratings (Live Plus Same Day data).  



CBS   5.6/ 9

NBC   5.2/ 9
ABC   3.5/ 6
Fox     2.3/ 4
CW    0.9/ 2

-Total Viewers:

CBS: 9.08 million, NBC: 7.89, ABC: 5.34, Fox: 3.67, CW: 1.52


-Adults 18-49:

CBS: 2.1 rating/7 share, NBC: 1.7/ 5, ABC: 1.6/ 5, Fox: 1.1/ 3, CW: 0.6/ 2


Note: Any prior rating results are based on the final nationals. Since the level of DVR penetration has increased from 27 percent at this same point last year to approximately 33 percent at present, the overall results may be negatively impacted.


-Friday’s Winners (keep in mind that the expectations are lower on Friday):

Ghost Whisperer (CBS), Dateline (NBC)


-Friday’s Losers (excluding repeats):
Supernanny (ABC), Shark Tank (ABC), Dollhouse (Fox), The Jay Leno Show (NBC)


-Ratings Breakdown:

CBS led this second Friday in January, with a first-place finish in both total viewers and adults 18-49. But under 10-million viewers and just an average 2.1 rating among adults 18-49 means attracting an audience on Friday remains a tremendous challenge for the broadcast networks.


On that note, CBS’ Ghost Whisperer opened with a dominant 9.00 million viewers and a 2.2 rating/7 share among adults 8-49 at 8 p.m. But the network may want to consider something new next season to lead-off (and re-energize) the evening. Ghost Whisperer could, perhaps, move to 9 p.m. Next was compatible Medium at a second-place finish (behind NBC’s Dateline) in both total viewers (8.93 million) and adults 18-49 (2.1/ 6) at 9 p.m., followed by Numb3rs at 9.32 million viewers (#1) and a second-place 2.1/ 6 in the demo at 10 p.m. As reported late last week, new drama Miami Medical steps into the Friday 10 p.m. hour on April 2, but according to CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler, Numb3rs is still in contention for renewal. 


Next was NBC with its combination of a two-hour edition of Dateline (Viewers: 8.95 million; A18-49: 1.9/ 6 from 8-10 p.m.) and The Jay Leno Show (Viewers: #3, 5.78 million; A18-49: #3, 1.4/ 4 at 10 p.m.), who has not been shy addressing his expected departure. As for Dateline, chances are you will be seeing more of it at 10 p.m. in the very near future. Here was the half-hour breakdown for Dateline:

Dateline (NBC)
8:00 p.m. – Viewers: 7.23 million (#2), A18-49: 1.5/ 5 (#2)
8:30 p.m. – Viewers: 7.86 million (#2), A18-49: 1.6/ 5 (#2)
9:00 p.m. – Viewers: 10.07 million (#1), A18-49: 2.1/ 6 (#1t)
9:30 p.m. – Viewers: 10.63 million (#1), A18-49: 2.3/ 7 (#1)

Over at ABC, fading Supernanny (Viewers: #4, 4.26 million; A18-49: #4, 1.2/ 4 at 8 p.m.) led into the return of Shark Tank, which debuted on its new night with an uneventful 3.96 million viewers (#4) and a 1.3/ 4 among adults 18-49 (#4) at 9 p.m. Regardless, ABC rose to its best performance among both adults 18-49 and adults 18-34 (1.2/ 4) in the Friday 9 p.m. hour this season. Veteran 20/20 capped off the evening for ABC with an above-average 7.81 million viewers (#2) and a first-place 2.3/ 7 among adults 18-49 at 10 p.m.


Fox filled Friday with a repeat of Bones (Viewers: #3, 4.97 million; A18-49: #3, 1.3/ 4) and another burn-off episode of Dollhouse (Viewers: #4, 2.38 million; A18-49: #4, 0.8/ 2). And The CW aired two repeat episodes of Smallville, which finished last with an average 1.52 million viewers and a 0.6/ 2 among adults 18-49 from 8-10 p.m. And there you have it…that’s Friday.

Source: Nielsen Media Research data
Saturday 1/09/10

Note: The following results are based on the fast affiliate ratings (Live Plus Same Day data).  



NBC 16.1/27
Fox     3.1/ 5
CBS    2.4/ 4
ABC   1.9/ 3
-Total Viewers:

NBC: 28.68 million, Fox: 5.10, CBS: 3.68, ABC: 2.65

-Adults 18-49:

NBC: 10.4 rating/29 share, Fox: 1.6/ 5, ABC and CBS: 0.7/ 2 each


-Saturday’s Winners:

NFL Wildcard Game: Philadelphia at Dallas (NBC)


-Saturday’s Losers (excluding repeats)

Nothing…there were repeats aplenty outside of NBC and 48 Hours Mystery built by double-digits out of the Numb3rs encore.  


-Ratings Breakdown:

It was a slam-dunk victory for NBC care of Philadelphia at Dallas in the NFL Wildcard Game at an estimated 28.68 million viewers and a 10.4 rating/29 share in prime-time. Comparably, that beat ABC, CBS and Fox combined by a whopping 17.25 million viewers and 247 percent in the demo. As I say all the time, put something on worth watching on Saturday and viewers will respond. As a reminder, results for any live sporting event are approximate.


Distant second-place Fox aired its perennial combination of Cops (two repeats – Viewers: #2, avg. 5.11 million; A18-49: #2, avg. 1.7/ 5) and America’s Most Wanted (Viewers: #2, 5.09 million; A18-49: #2, 1.6/ 5). Considering the severity of the competition, these are respectable numbers. 


In the battle for the leftover audience (and there was not much left), CBS aired repeats of Ghost Whisperer (Viewers: #3, 2.82 million; A18-49: #4, 0.5/ 2) and Numb3rs (Viewers: #3, 2.88 million; A18-49: #4, 0.5/ 1) from 8-10 p.m., followed by an original installment of 48 Hours Mystery at 5.34 million viewers and a 1.1/ 3 among adults 18-49 — second in both categories. 


ABC capped off the evening with repeats of the two-hour season-premiere of The Bachelor: On the Wings of Love (Viewers: #4, 2.25 million; A18-49: #3, 0.6/ 2 from 8-10 p.m.) and a repeat of Castle (Viewers: #3, 3.44 million; A18-49: #3, 0.8/ 2).


Source: Nielsen Media Research data (R = repeat)


Note: Due to the early release of The Programming Insider, metered market (overnight) results were not available for Sunday, Jan. 10.  

Source: Nielsen Media Research data

TCA Winter Press Tour 2010:

The Scoop from Pasadena


Saturday, January 9 kicked-off the nine-day Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour in sunny Pasadena, California. Similar to the annual summer gathering, the networks, both broadcast and cable, address approximately 200 critics from across the country looking for the so-called scoop. But, unlike the dog days of summer, the rating results are in and we know which of the new crop of freshman shows are hot, and which are not. Mirroring every season in recent memory, the number of flops outweigh the number of new hits. But recent mainstays like ABC’s Modern Family, CBS’ NCIS: Los Angeles and The Good Wife and Fox’s Glee and The Cleveland Show prove the value of network television.


CBS kicked-off the nine-day extravaganza with an executive session with Entertainment President Nina Tassler. Considering the lack of holes of the Eye net line-up, there was very little of negative note on a programming nature. The most controversial item at the CBS session was, in fact, Charlie Sheen’s recent arrest. But both Tassler and Two and a Half Men creator Chuck Lorre (who spoke at the next panel with the creative minds behind Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory) assured us Charlie was back at work. 


“Right now we’re being very sensitive to the fact that this is a very personal and very private matter for Charlie,” said Tassler. “There has been no impact on the network right now. The show is proceeding along its regular project schedule.”


Also addressed was Laurence Fishburne in place of William Petersen on CSI, who has settled in after a rocky first season, the official cancellation of medical drama Three Rivers, and Friday drama Numb3rs, which is still up for renewal despite new Jerry Bruckheimer drama Miami Medical stepping into the Friday 10 p.m. hour on April 2. Tassler also did not rule out an eventual crossover between Miami Medical and the other numerous Bruckheimer shows.


The subject of Jay Leno will, of course, be a hot topic at NBC, but here is what Tassler had to say:


“There is no substitute for developing great shows, working with great talent, and getting your program on the air. 10 o’clock is a great business for us and our creative community was somewhat bruised by this. A lot of people were put out of work. A lot of people really saw this as having a pretty negative impact on our business. But I think it allowed us to get a bigger piece of the ad revenue pie at 10 o’clock. For NBC to say that this was a reflection on the whole network business was misguided. Our business is thriving right now. We are enjoying success with new hit shows, as is ABC, as is FOX. So at the end of the day, it was an experiment that obviously failed. There is no substitute for just developing, producing and launching great shows.”

Undercover Boss

Sunday 9 p.m. (Premieres after The Super Bowl on Feb. 7)

-The Premise:

A top executive goes undercover in disguise at the company he works for to get a real look at the people working there and the company itself in this hidden camera reality series.

-Lead-in: The Amazing Race  

-Competition: Desperate Housewives (ABC), specials/Celebrity Apprentice (NBC), Family Guy and American Dad (Fox)

-Who Was on the Panel:

Executive Producer Stephen Lambert and Larry O’Donnell, III, President and Chief Operating Officer, Waste Management, Inc.

-The Scoop:

The show itself, according to Stephen Lambert:


“Anybody who has had a boss who has worked in the company will understand this show. And for the person in charge to be able to see what their employees are really doing seemed like an exciting idea. But this isn’t a mean-spirited show. This is a show where the boss is on a dual mission. One, he wants to find out what’s really going on in the front line, things he can’t see when he’s back at headquarters. Second, he’s looking for the unsung heroes of the company. So he’s looking for people that deserve some kind of thanks, maybe a promotion, and it’s the mixture of the kind of comedy that comes from the boss trying to do the frontline jobs and the emotion of these people.”


In case anyone is wondering, no one will be paid for participating on Undercover Boss. 

-The Reality:

What sounds like C-level product on a grade “A” network (particularly on high HUT level Sunday) actually looks very appealing and very relatable. Since I always say a good network needs to offer a variety of all types of programming, there is a reason why CBS is giving Undercover Boss the Super Bowl lead-out spot. It’s damn good and should fit well out of The Amazing Race (and against Desperate Housewives). If CBS plays its cards right (translation: no overexposure), it could have a solid utility player for several years.


-Chance of Survival for Undercover Boss (Based on a scale of 1-1 to 10-1):

Miami Medical
Friday 10 p.m. effective on April 2
-The Premise:

A team of trauma surgeons in Miami race against time to save patients with less than one hour to live in this new medical drama.  

-Lead-in: Medium 

-Competition: 20/20 (ABC), TBD (NBC)


Who Was on the Panel:

Jerry Northam, Mike Vogel, Lana Parrilla, Elisabeth Harnois, Omar Gooding, creator/executive producer Jeffrey Lieber, and executive producers Jerry Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman and Steve Maeda.

-The Scoop:

Miami Medical, according to Jeffrey Lieber:


“Our show is very much about this concept of golden hour, which is the first 60 minutes after a trauma accident. If you did a little bell curve in terms of being able to save a life, in those first 60 minutes, if you can get to these doctors, these guys here, the odds of saving your life are way up here on the bell curve. And then the minute you hit that 60-minute mark, it starts to drop precipitously. So it’s really about how do people, doctors, people who are faced with that line between life and death in everyday — both how do they do what they do for a living, and then how do you go home and just live a life?

-The Reality:

One of the new programming trends this season was new medical dramas, and the results have not been positive. CBS’ Three Rivers is history, NBC’s Trauma was canceled, then brought back to struggling life for three additional episodes, and NBC’s Mercy is not capable of anchoring Wednesday. Needless to say, the odds are not positive. Factor in a deteriorating Friday and Miami Medical may not be the best possible to may to end a hectic work week. If viewing levels end up on life support, Canadian drama Flashpoint can always step in. 


-Chance of Survival for Miami Medical (Based on a scale of 1-1 to 10-1):

On the CW Panel Front

Given the day was packed with CBS, Showtime and The CW, there was no CW executive session, just panels with new drama Life Unexpected and hit freshman drama The Vampire Diaries. Here are the highlights from Life Unexpected. 

Life Unexpected
Monday 9 p.m. (Effective on Jan. 18)
-The Premise:

After spending 15 years in foster care, a determined teenager (Brittany Robertson) decides to become an emancipated minor and find her biological parents (Kristoffer Polaha and Shiri Appleby).


-Lead-in: One Tree Hill 

-Competition: The Bachelor (ABC), Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory (CBS), Heroes (NBC), 24 (Fox)

-Who Was on the Panel:

Brittany Robertson, Kristoffer Paloha, Shiri Appleby, creator/executive producer Liz Tigelaar and executive producer Gary Fleder.

-The Scoop:

There was a panel with Life Unexpected at the Summer Press Tour, so there was really nothing new that was offered other than this is a show that explores the fantasy of who your birth parents might be when you are adopted, and how the reality can be a stark contrast to the anticipation.

-The Reality:

Let’s be honest…Monday at 9 p.m. is a tough time period, one of the most competitive hours in prime-time. Success will not come easy. But the compatibility looks solid out of aging lead-in One Tree Hill, and the pilot itself was just plain good…well written, well acted and well produced. That said, The CW is temporarily bumping beloved Gossip Girl for Life Unexpected, and will do anything it can to make sure this drama succeeds. 


-Chance of Survival for Life Unexpected (Based on a scale of 1-1 to 10-1):



It was standing room only at NBC’s executive session with Jeff Gaspin, NBC Universal Television Entertainment President and Angela Bromstad, President, Primetime Entertainment, NBC and Universal Media Studios. Nothing is officially confirmed yet, but the plan is to pare down The Jay Leno Show to 30-minutes and move it to 11:35 p.m. The Tonight Show with Conan Brien will move to 12:05 a.m. (if, of course, Leno and Conan don’t bolt from the network), followed by Late Night with Jimmy Fallon at 1:05 a.m. What that means for Last Call with Carson Daly is uncertain. 


“I can confirm that starting Feb. 12, Jay Leno will no longer air at 10 p.m.,” said Jeff Gaspin, NBC Universal Television Entertainment President. ”While it was performing at acceptable levels, our affiliates were unhappy. My goal right now is to keep Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Fallon as part of our late-night lineup. As much as I’d like to tell you we have a done deal, we know that’s not true.”


Let’s be honest, had Leno’s performance been “acceptable” it would not be smack in the middle of what is arguably the biggest fiasco in the history of television. What no one at NBC seems to realize is since Leno flopped at 10 p.m., a half-hour version is unlikely to fare any better at 11:35 p.m. Don’t forget that Leno was initially sampled by over 18 million viewers on Sept. 14, which means that about three out of four viewers probably did not like what they saw. The better idea would be to give Leno back The Tonight Show, set Conan free, and try to pick up the pieces. An institution like The Tonight Show will not benefit by moving to 12:05 a.m.


There is no news, meanwhile, what will step into the Monday to Friday 10 p.m. hour. Dateline and repeats of the Law & Order franchise are the top contenders (including USA’s Criminal Intent), while returning (but low-rated) Friday Night Lights is available as of March 1. Also in contention is a new drama called Rex is Not Your Lawyer with David Tennant from Dr. Who fame.


As for prime-time, this season is a bust. Any potential moves at 10 p.m. are nothing more than “Band-Aid” maneuvers. But NBC does have many scripted projects in development including:


-Chase: a new action-procedural drama from the very busy Jerry Bruckheimer.

-The Event: an average man battles against mysterious circumstances that develop into a large conspiracy.

-Kindreds: a curmudgeonly ex-patent lawyer and his group of misfit associates form an unconventional law practice in this new drama from David E. Kelley.

-Love Bites: an hour-long romantic comedy.

-Prime Suspect: the story of a courageous female detective who investigates complex mysteries in a politically explosive city.

-The Rockford Files: a remake of the classic 1974-80 detective drama.

-The Undercovers: a domesticated husband and wife return from years of retirement as CIA agents in this J.J. Abrams drama.

-Untitled Adam Carolla project with Carolla as a contractor who sets to re-build his life following a divorce. 


NBC, in addition, has expressed interest in a new Law & Order set in Los Angeles. 


“I don’t think it’s wrong to take chances,” said Gaspin, trying to explain his way out of the Jay Leno mess. “I think you have to take chances. Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don’t. But I still think you’ve got to play with your schedule a little bit differently than you have traditionally.  And I think you’ll see us, maybe not as much in the next three months because I don’t have as much to work with, but I think by the fall, you might see us try some interesting stuff with the NBC schedule.”

On the NBC Panel Front:

Monday 9 p.m. (Premieres on March 1 after Heroes ends for the season – or forever)

-The Premise:

Based on the 1989 Ron Howard theatrical, four grown siblings share the “headaches, heartaches and joy” of being parents.  

-Lead-in: Chuck 

-Competition: The Bachelor: On the Wings of Love (ABC), Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 24 (Fox), Life Unexpected (CW)

-Who Was on the Panel:

Peter Krause, Lauren Graham, Craig T. Nelson, Dax Shepard, Erika Christensen, Monica Potter, Bonnie Bedelia, Sam Jaeger, Joy Bryant and executive producers Ron Howard and Jason Katims. 

-The Scoop:

Ron Howard on why there is a second TV show version of Parenthood:


“Parenthood is a project that I really I cherish. It’s a great memory. It was a great creative experience. To this day, it’s probably the most personal film that I’ve ever really been involved with. And so it’s something that I hold near and dear.

We had tried once to do sort of a sitcom version of it. That was, you know, just misguided. Didn’t work, didn’t live up to, in my mind, the potential of all the stories that were — and the characters as they existed in the movie. And the first question that we asked of Jason was, “Well, why do you need ‘Parenthood’? And he made an argument for why the foundation of that family worked. Ultimately, it’s about the unbelievable ups and downs of parenting, the absurdity of it, the pain of it, and also, significantly to me, the nobility of it. But it’s also just about being responsible and being in a family. And that always creates great suspense and great drama, and that was a thing that Jason started talking about. And we felt that he could take this thing and bring it forward to today in a way that was compelling.”

 -The Reality:

Considering Parenthood the series did not work the first time – NBC aired a half-hour comedy based version in the fall of 1990 – you have to wonder what possessed the struggling network to give it another shot. Minus the benefit of any strong lead-in support (Chuck is only a marginal core favorite) and opposite the CBS comedies, ABC’s sugary The Bachelor and Fox’s 24, the prognosis is grim.


-Chance of Survival for Parenthood (Based on a scale of 1-1 to 10-1):

-Did You Know?:

In between sitcoms The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days, teenage Ronny Howard co-starred in a half-hour ABC drama called The Smith Family in the early 1970s. Papa Smith was played by Henry Fonda.

The Marriage Ref

Sunday 8 p.m. (Premieres on March 14; previews following NBC’s coverage of the Closing Ceremony of the Winter Olympics on Feb. 28)

-The Premise:

Comedy Legend Jerry Seinfeld is the creator and producer of this non-scripted look at marriage as celebrities, comedians and sports stars decide who is right…and who is wrong…in real-life disputes between real-life spouses.

-Lead-in: Dateline

-Competition: Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (ABC), The Amazing Race (CBS), The Simpsons and The Cleveland Show (Fox)

-Who Was on the Panel:

Jerry Seinfeld, host Tom Papa and executive producer Ellen Rakietein

-The Scoop:

Jerry Seinfeld on the difference of doing a sitcom versus The Marriage Ref:


“Whenever I was doing my sitcom, people would come up to me and go “Oh, we — my people where I work, they would be great on your show.” And you would just have to go “Yeah.  Let me just get out of here.” But, in this case, regular people are going to come up and say “We would love to be on your show.” And I think a lot of times they are going to be right.


(Mr. TV footnote: I was one of those people who once approached Mr. Seinfeld, but it was not to say I knew people who should be on his sitcom. It was 1991 and I simply wanted to say hello from my wife, who had known him growing up in the same town of Massapequa. And, yes, he basically non-graciously said, “Let me just get out of here.”).

-The Reality:

First, and foremost, since when is Jerry Seinfeld an “expert” on marriage? That aside, what sounds kind of corny might actually appeal to a mass audience. Plus, the name Seinfeld certainly will not hurt the branding. With ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition losing steam, there could be an opportunity for The Marriage Ref.