Tonight: a broadcast vs. cable showdown between corporate siblings.

After a few months off, Burn Notice returns tonight at 10pm for the final six episodes of its fifth season and will be in head-to-head competition with NBC’s Prime Suspect.

While it’s nothing particularly new that NBC cable sibling USA Network beats the broadcast mothership in head-to-head battles, that usually happens when WWE RAW beats up on NBC’s Monday Night lineup.  RAW easily beat the second hour of The Sing Off and the debut of Rock Center with Brian Williams on Monday night (and RAW didn’t have any difficult getting past The Playboy Club, either).

But with Burn Notice and Prime Suspect it will be a battle of scripted dramas. It’s easy to roll your eyes and think “Is this even a question?! Of course Burn Notice will win!”  But it could be closer than you think. At the end of its summer run on September 8, Burn Notice drew a 1.3 adults 18-49 rating.  Covert Affairs, which ended its run in early August with a 1.4 adults 18-49 rating returned with a 1.0 Tuesday night when it had to face broadcast competition.

But unlike Covert Affairs, which had never aired against fall broadcast competition and Burn Notice has. Burn Notice returned for the final six episodes of season four on November 11, 2010 and averaged a 1.5 adults 18-49 rating. That bettered the 1.4 for NBC’s The Apprentice that night.

Prime Suspect hasn’t been doing as well as The Apprentice though and has steadily dropped from its series premiere 1.8 adults 18-49 to a series low 1.1 adults 18-49 rating last week. That episode aired against the epic Game 6 of the World Series, but Prime Suspect didn’t fare that much better in the previous original that didn’t square off against baseball (a 1.3 adults 18-49 rating on October 13).

Who ya got?

Posted by:TV By The Numbers

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