After two seasons of batting .000 with new dramas, ABC might finally be breaking out of its slump.
With two weeks of strong ratings for “Lost” under its belt, the network got more good news Sunday (Oct. 3) with the premieres of “Desperate Housewives” and “Boston Legal.” Combined with “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” the two new dramas won the night for ABC in both total viewers and the young-adult demographics that advertisers love.
The darkly comic soap “Desperate Housewives,” fueled by strong reviews and heavy promotion, drew close to 21.3 million viewers at 9 p.m. — making it the most-watched series premiere of the season (topping CBS’ “CSI: NY”) and the best opening for an ABC show since “Spin City” in 1996, according to preliminary Nielsen ratings. (Final numbers will be released Tuesday.)
Equally important for the network, “Housewives,” which stars Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross and Eva Longoria, scored an 8.7 rating in the key adults 18-49 demographic, also the best for a series debut this season (beating that of “Joey” on NBC). It also was the night’s top show among adults 18-34.
“Boston Legal,” which followed “Desperate Housewives,” lost a significant portion of its lead-in’s audience, debuting to about 13.8 million viewers and a 5.0 rating in adults 18-49. That was still good enough, however, for the spinoff of “The Practice” to win its time period over NBC’s “Crossing Jordan.” It also performed far better than “The Practice” did in the same timeslot last year.
At 8 p.m., “Cold Case” opened its second season on CBS with about 15.5 million viewers, close to the 15.8 million that watched the series premiere last year. It won its hour overall, but “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” held a sizable advantage in adults 18-49, averaging 5.7 to CBS’ 3.7.