With the first President Debate interrupting television’s most watched night, NBC and CBS were each missing two of their Thursday big guns. The result was a tighter-than-usual ratings race for the week ending Sunday, Oct. 3. While CBS held on to win the week overall, NBC slumped, making room for the apparently rejuvenated ABC to sneak in and grab the demographic race.
Although ABC’s new season has featured a couple obviously duds (“The Benefactor,” “Complete Savages”), “Lost” looks like a breakout hit and “Desperate Housewives,” “Boston Legal” and “Wife Swap” are all off to strong starts for a network looking to build a new foundation. CBS shows little sign of releasing its grip on the top of the ratings, but the battle between rising ABC and fading NBC should be interesting to watch as the season progresses.
Expect more topsy-turvy ratings next week as FOX shifts to coverage of the baseball playoffs and the networks turn over their Tuesday (Oct. 5) to the vice presidential debate.
Overall, CBS averaged an 8.2 rating/13 share for the week, pulling in an average of 12.34 million viewers per night in primetime. ABC grabbed second with a 7.1/12 and 10.84 million viewers, edging NBC’s 6.5/11 and 9.72 million. FOX barely registered with a 3.4/5 and only 5.05 million viewers, barely ahead of The WB’s 2.7/4 and 3.99 million. UPN was sixth with a 2.2/4 and 3.13 million.
Among adults 18-49, ABC came out on top with a 4.1 rating. CBS was second in the demographic that advertisers crave, doing a 3.7 rating, just better than NBC’s 3.6 rating. FOX was off the pace with a 2.2 rating, followed by The WB’s 1.6 and the 1.3 rating for UPN.
With the flagship “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” on the bench for the Kerry-Bush debate, CBS got its best performances out of the franchise’s two spin-offs. “CSI: Miami” was No. 2 on the week with a 13.0/21 and “CSI: NY” was No. 4 with a 12.5/20. A special Wednesday “CSI” airing was No. 8 with a 10.8/17.
CBS bookended the week with two Top 20 shows on Monday and two on Sunday. The Monday comedies “Everybody Loves Raymond” (12.1/18, 5th) and “Two and a Half Men” (10.9/16, 7th) brought the funny to start the week, while “60 Minutes” (10.2/17, 10th) and the season premiere of “Cold Case” (10.0/15, 11th) ended the week on a more serious note.
Also scoring well for CBS were Thursday’s “Survivor: Vanuatu” (11.5/18, 6th) and the season premiere of “NCIS” (9.3/15, 13th).
ABC had the week’s most watched program with the impressive premiere of “Desperate Housewives.” The quirky Sunday drama shocked most observers by drawing 21.65 million viewers and a 13.6/20. The suburban ensemble joins “Lost” (10.5/17, 9th) and “Boston Legal” (8.6/15, 20th) in representing ABC’s most vital drama development slate in years. The network also had the time period premiere of “Wife Swap” doing admirably with a 7.8/13, for No. 23.
The Alphabet network also had the “Monday Night Football” game between the Cowboys and Redskins doing a 13.0/22 to tie for No. 2. The seven-minute football pregame was No. 12 with a 9.9/15.
It was a tough week for NBC as the network wasn’t able to place a single show in the Top 10. A Wednesday installment of “The Apprentice” had a 9.3/14 for No. 13, just ahead of normal Thursday colleagues “Joey” (9.0/15, 15th) and “Will & Grace” (8.7/14, 18th) and NBC’s post-debate coverage, which did an 8.9/14 for No. 16.
Badly beaten in its Wednesday showdown against “CSI: NY,” the original “Law & Order” was No. 17 with an 8.8/14. Tuesday’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” scored an 8.7/14 to tie for No. 18.
FOX’s best for the week was “Trading Spouses,” which had a 5.3/8 and tied for No. 53.
On The WB, “7th Heaven” was No. 60 with a 4.4/7. Both of the network’s new dramas, “The Mountain” (2.0/3, 104th) and “Jack & Bobby” (1.6/2, 111th) continued to flounder.
UPN saw “America’s Next Top Model” lead the way with a 3.2/5 at No. 84. The premiere of “Kevin Hill” was a respectable No. 89 with a 2.9/4, but the time period premiere of “Veronica Mars” did only a 1.7/3 and tied for No. 109.