NBC's Monday Night Meltdown


NBC’s new Monday night line-up looked like a good idea back when I was watching pilots this summer. Neither Chuck nor Journeyman seemed like breakout hits to me, but both were solid. Apparently, viewers don’t agree.

Again I’ll mention the caveat that we need to wait for DVR numbers, but a look at last night’s fast nationals gives us a peek into what’s quickly turning into a tough scenario for NBC. Chuck opened the night at a 2.4/7 rating/share in adults 18-49, climbing to a 2.9/7 by the hour’s end. The climb is good news; the sub-3 rating and fourth-place finish is not.

That’s especially because of what that weak lead-in did to Heroes, which opened at a 4.7/11, probably the first time that show has ever turned in a below-5 performance. It climbed to a 5.3/12 in the second half hour, which is good news, but its 5.0/11 average marked that episode as the series’ lowest-rated ever, down 22% from this year’s prior average. Moreover, the show has fallen steeply and steadily since its 7.3/17 premiere.

Besides the weak lead-in, it also looks like Dancing with the Stars’ strong performance is hurting NBC’s sophomore superhero. Moreover, so far this season, Heroes seems to falling prey to the same plague that killed Lost’s ratings: the storyline is all over the map, with no clear point thus far, although several plotlines have been promised. I know that’s making me feel antsy.

At 10 p.m., Journeyman opened at a respectable 3.2/8, but then it dipped down to a 2.7/7 in the second half hour, giving it third place behind CBS’ CSI: Miami, which also is in serious decline, and ABC’s The Bachelor, which is holding steady with its previous year performance. Overall, ABC won the night among adults 18-49 with its all-reality line-up of Dancing and The Bachelor, making the case that while scripted TV might be more creatively satisfying, less-expensive reality TV is often what gets the returns. To me, that’s a little sad, but you have to go with what the people watch.