January 13, 2012



Lots of news, but it’s only good for one network.
CBS:  Keeping in mind that the Thursday 8-9PM landscape will change drastically next week with the return of American Idol, CBS got everything it could have wished from the debut of ROB at 8:30PM.  The show’s 4.1 blew past the numbers that Rules of Engagement was doing in that slot (let alone How To Be A Gentleman), retained 80% of its BIG BANG THEORY lead-in, and boosted PERSON OF INTEREST at 9PM to its own season high of 3.2.  THE MENTALIST was at a standard 2.7 at 10PM, good enough to win the hour.  Last year, the CBS 8:30PM sitcom (S#![ My Dad Says) did a 2.8 against the debut of Idol, after a 4.2 for Big Bang Theory, so even if Rob takes a hit from last night, it’s in a good position to improve CBS’s numbers overall.

NBC:  Ugh.  30 ROCK only made it to a 1.8 in its season debut.  That’s a little better than what Community had been doing at 8PM, but a whopping 30% behind last year’s season average.  On any other network, it would be in line for cancellation.  PARKS & RECREATION didn’t benefit from the new lead-in, rising only 0.1 from its last original outing after a Community episode.  (In what now look like the halcyon days of 2011, NBC’s 8-9PM sitcoms averaged a 2.2 against the debut of Idol.  That’s not gonna happen next week.)  Despite all the marketing dollars spent to promote the new 9PM hour, THE OFFICE tied its season low, and UP ALL NIGHT, in its new timeslot, was up only 0.1 from Whitney‘s lowest rating in the slot.  But the worst was yet to come:  THE FIRM had its timeslot premiere with a catastrophic 1.0, 45% lower than the number Outsourced did last season at 10:30PM.  That would be a decent (and not exceptional) number for USA; it’s a ridiculous rating for NBC. 
FOX:  THE FINDER had a very unimpressive 1.7 debut.  Of course its lead-in beginning next week will be probably triple the 2.4 it had from BONES last night, which should certainly leave it looking healthier–but still, a 4th place finish doesn’t suggest much audience enthusiasm.
ABC:  The network took a hit from the higher level of competition on the night, not to mention the marketing dollars spent by the other networks in promoting their changes, as GREY’S ANATOMY and PRIVATE PRACTICE fell to the mid-levels of their season numbers.
CW:  VAMPIRE DIARIES was down a significant 0.3 (by CW terms), but still huge (by CW terms) with a 1.2.  Even with the diminished lead-in, SECRET CIRCLE held steady at a strong 0.8.
Tonight:  the return of FRINGE!  (There may not be many more chances to use that phrase.)  And the final regular episodes of EXTREME MAKEOVER:  HOME EDITION.  

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."