on October 1, 2008 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

ABC wins TV premiere week for second year

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – “Dancing with the Stars”, “Desperate Housewives” and “Grey’s Anatomy” helped ABC become the most-watched television network during premiere week for the second straight year, according to Nielsen Media Research figures on Tuesday.

Two of the five broadcast networks — CBS and NBC — saw a decline in audiences compared to last year, underscoring the impact of the prolonged Writers Guild of America strike that disrupted much of the last season and sent viewership tumbling earlier this year.

With a reduced offering of new shows due to the strike, audiences flocked to old favorites, and only one new show, CBS’s crime drama “The Mentalist,” reached the Top 10 during premiere week with 15.6 million viewers.

The week serves as a key promotional platform for U.S. TV networks as they hype new programs, hoping that one or two will become instant hits and immediately begin to lure advertisers.

ABC had the week’s four most-watched shows including the results telecast for “Dancing with the Stars,” and the network averaged just over 12 million viewers a night for its prime-time programs between from September 22 to September 28 — a three percent increase from the same week one year ago.

CBS, with an average 11.2 million viewers, was second with “How I Met Your Mother”, “NCIS” and “Criminal Minds” drawing their biggest ever premier ratings. But the network’s overall prime time viewership was down five percent from 2007.

Despite the return of “Heroes” and NFL football, NBC was third, averaging 8.31 million viewers, which was 16 percent less than last season’s premiere week.

Fox came in fourth, with an average 7.49 million viewers, but a strong 12.3 million viewers for hospital drama “House” helped Fox boost its overall audience size eight percent over the same week last year.

The CW’s grab for young viewers with shows like “Gossip Girl”, the remake of “90210″ and reality show “America’s Next Top Model” appears to have paid off. The fledgling network had an average 2.9 million viewers but a hefty 18 percent increase on last year’s premiere week.

Among new series, “The Mentalist,” sitcom “Worst Week” (CBS) “and sci-fi thriller “The Fringe” (Fox) were among the most popular programs.

The new season already has had its first casualty when Fox late last week dropped workplace comedy “Do Not Disturb” after three episodes. Fox began debuting shows earlier this month.

Among the week’s most disappointing new premieres was NBC’s “Knight Rider” revival with 7.3 million viewers and ABC game show “Opportunity Knocks” with an audience of 6.5 million.

ABC is owned by the Walt Disney Co; NBC is a division of the NBC Universal media wing of General Electric Co; Fox is part of News Corp. CBS is part of CBS Corp; The CW is a joint venture of CBS Corp and Time Warner Inc’s Warner Brothers.

(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte; editing by Carol Bishopric)