Broadcast networks premiered the most new shows on Wednesday night, and compared to their success rates elsewhere the night was a bonanza of success.
ABC debuted 3 new hours (Hank, The Middle, Modern Family, Cougar Town, Eastwick) and is renewing half of them (1.5 hours, 3 of 5 shows), Fox debuted Glee and its a keeper. On the other side of the ledger the CW's Beautiful LIfe flopped hard and fast, leaving the air after just a few episodes. NBC's Mercy, certain to be canceled, has lived on only to fill airtime left bare by the Lenopocalypse.
Fox's So You Think You Can Dance didn't do nearly as well as the summer, but it did a lot better than the dreck Fox programmed in past fall's. CBS got a better fight on the night from ABC and Fox than I expected, and Law & Order: SVU did worse at 9pm than I expected. ABC's relative success on Wednesday's allowed them to distract the media from the carnage on several of their other nights. And The Beautiful Life did even worse than Stylista. I will no longer assume "anything's got to do better than this" for any show on the CW.
The content of my original post from 9/8/09 is below with new additions in red:
NOTE: The season-to-date averages below are only through March 21, and do not include any data for the week of March 22-28 and I didn't update the post with Human Target since it didn't air in the fall and this is an update of last fall's post.
Wednesday nights on broadcast TV this fall is going to be filled with that new show smell. ABC's all new, NBC has 2 new hours, and the CW and Fox are each 50% new. Only CBS is bringing back a veteran line up, presumably they'll hang a little evergreen tree on the rearview mirror.
Below are the hourly lineups, including each shows 18-49 demo rating average (which includes in-slot repeats) from the 2008-9 season as well as my guesses for the fall nightly overall results.
8:00 (Hank is an early failure, Christine holds up, ANTM falls)
Hank (ABC), New (1.6 adults 18-49 season to date rating)
New Adventures of Old Christine (CBS), 2.0 18-49 demo rating (1.9 adults 18-49 season to date rating)
America's Next Top Model (CW), 1.9 fall '08, 1.8 spring '09 demo ratings (1.5 fall '09, 1.6 spring '10 adults 18-49 season to date rating)
So You Think You Can Dance (Fox), ~3.5 demo rating for Wed. & Thu. summer 2009 through 8/30 (2.4 adults 18-49 season to date rating)
Mercy (NBC), New (1.7 adults 18-49 season to date rating)
8:30 (The Middle recovers from Hank, Gary fairly steady)
The Middle (ABC), New (2.0 adults 18-49 season to date rating)
Gary Unmarried (CBS), 2.1 demo rating (2.0 adults 18-49 season to date rating)
9:00 (Modern Family & Glee are strong, Criminal Minds steady, TBL fails, SVU suffers at 9pm)
Modern Family (ABC), New (3.1 adults 18-49 season to date rating)
Criminal Minds (CBS) 3.4 demo rating (3.3 adults 18-49 season to date rating)
The Beautiful Life (CW) New (0.5 adults 18-49 season to date rating)
Glee (Fox), New (2.8 adults 18-49 season to date rating)
Law & Order:SVU (NBC), 3.3 demo rating (@ 10pm last season) (2.4 adults 18-49 season to date rating)
9:30 (Cougar Town's a keeper)
Cougar Town (ABC), New (2.7 adults 18-49 season to date rating)
10:00 (Eastwick has scary ratings, CSI:NY weakens a bit)
Eastwick (ABC), New (1.7 adults 18-49 season to date rating)
CSI:NY (CBS), 3.2 demo rating (2.9 adults 18-49 season to date rating)
The Jay Leno Show (NBC), New, Fall 2009 Tonight Show averaged about a 1.4-1.5 demo rating (1.5 adults 18-49 season to date rating on Wednesday)
Wednesday looks like an easy CBS win with their strong 9 and 10pm shows. Their margin would be even bigger if it wasn't millstoned by the 8pm comedy hour ratings losers. Since I expect Law & Order: SVU to improve its ratings at 9pm this season (vs. 10pm last season), if Mercy doesn't crash immediately, NBC could start in a strong second due to early Leno tune in. Ultimately, I think that whoever ends up in second place (almost certainly Fox or NBC) will be well back of CBS' nightly ratings in the 18-49 demo.
I think the best ABC can expect is to find a couple keepers out of its all new night. The worst case, a complete wipe out, is also possible. CW could easily improve on the night if The Beautiful Life does better than Stylista did in the same slot, not a very high hurdle.
Note: I make all my guesses completely unburdened by having read any reviews of any of the new shows, having seen any of the pilots, or knowing any more than the most casual details of their subject matter. Does that make mine better or worse than the typical TV writer which focuses almost solely on those? Your mileage may vary.
Fox caveat: Regardless of their other shows outcome of the major league baseball playoffs can make or break Fox's fall averages. If they get long series with good matchups their overall season averages benefit tremendously. If they get short series with bad matchups, they'll suffer.