September 22, 2011

THE SKED: Wednesday Ratings – Network Scorecard – 9/21/11


On the night that two of the Fall’s most-hyped new arrivals made their debuts, the clear winner was a returning hit.
ABC:  When their horse has the lead, horse-racing fans will sometimes yell out “Wire!” in the hope that the finish line will miraculously appear and the race will end exactly as is.  That’s how ABC should feel about last night.  America showed that it’s been waiting all summer for the return of MODERN FAMILY, which triumphed over the debut of X-Factor and romped to a 6.0 victory in 18-49s.  This propelled REVENGE into a timeslot-winning 3.4 at 10PM–not a giant number, but higher than any 10PM series averaged last season.  And even THE MIDDLE, facing huge competition, was barely behind Survivor in the race for second place in its hour.  Of course, next week Modern Family goes back to being a half-hour, and Revenge won’t get the same lead-in from Happy Endings.  But for a week, ABC can bask in a Wednesday well-launched.

FOX:  Well, X-FACTOR… is not American Idol.  Or for that matter, The Voice.  That’s not to diminish a very strong 4.4 debut (slightly updated from Mitch Metcalf’s report), and competition show ratings tend to increase over the course of their run.  But coming out of the gate well behind Modern Family and just barely ahead of Criminal Minds, X-Factor isn’t exactly the historic event that seemed to be on the horizon.  Nonetheless, it’s a very solid number that marks a big increase for FOX on the night, so the only problems with the rating are the high expectations that preceded it.
NBC:  It’s only 3 days into the season, and already the Tylenol concession is the one to have at the Peacock.  Absolutely nothing is going NBC’s way right now.  They’ll live with UP ALL NIGHT‘s 2.3 if that number doesn’t continue slipping, but 4th place in the timeslot (and nowhere close to 3rd) is hardly a win.  The most exciting thing about FREE AGENTS is that it’s now locked in a battle with Playboy Club for the title of earliest cancellation.  HARRY’S LAW couldn’t even draw in the older crowd that was sustaining it on Mondays–it was 4th in total audience–and its 1.2 rating in 18-49s was embarrassing.  And the Meloni-less SVU was clearly the big loser in the battle for 10PM.  
CBS:  With the least-hyped schedule of the night, a quietly solid result.  SURVIVOR is clearly on the down side of its illustrious run, but that was still good enough for 2d place in the hour; CRIMINAL MINDS more than held its own in the hugely competitive 9PM slot, even exceeding its season average from last year.  And the new CSI, with Ted Danson taking over the lead,  may have declined from its Thursday average, but that’s misleading, because its old slot had much higher total viewership–in its new home, CSI may well become the winner at 10PM once Revenge settles to its post-premiere level. 
CW:  Oh, do they air shows on Wednesdays?  H8R is barely a blip with a 0.4, and AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL is doing a half-decent cable number with a 0.7.
Thursdays are always a battleground, and tonight sees an assortment of important debuts, including Charlie’s Angels on ABC, Person of Interest on CBS, and both Whitney and Prime Suspect on NBC (both of which have to air against a 2-hour Grey’s Anatomy season debut on ABC, as the hits keep coming for the Peacock).

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."