CBS extended its reign as Thursday-night leader into the new 2005-06 TV season last week, winning television’s most lucrative night with the help of CSI and Survivor. Sister Viacom-owned network UPN is getting a piece of Thursday action, too, with its highly anticipated new comedy Everybody Hates Chris finishing second in its time slot and outdelivering the more established, young-skewing competition in Fox’s The O.C. and NBC’s Joey.
The night before belonged to ABC as Lost continued to thrill in its season-two debut with 23.5 million viewers and a 10.2 rating/25 share in 18-49s. And NBC managed to win Tuesday night thanks to the strong premieres of My Name Is Earl and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Here’s B&C’s scorecard:ABC: Even before Desperate Housewives returned, ABC got off to a hot start. Lost delivered monster ratings against stiff competition, and most viewers stayed put for new thriller Invasion. The network’s luck is tested this week with the premieres of freshman shows Commander in Chief and Nightstalker. CBS: Once again, CSI and Survivor are unstoppable. The forensics drama nabbed network TV’s highest premiere ratings yet, with 29 million viewers and a 10.2/25 in 18-49s. New drama Criminal Minds and NCIS also started off strong. CBS’ new Friday-night duo of Threshold and Ghost Whisperer gets its first test this week. FOX: After just two episodes, laggard legal comedy Head Cases was axed, earning it the distinction of being the first cancelled new show. But other new entries Bones and Prison Break are promising, and medical drama House is sizzling in its sophomore season, averaging more than 15 million viewers.
NBC: Mixed results for the Peacock in week one. My Name Is Earl lived up to its hype, with 15.2 million viewers and a 6.6/16 in 18-49s. But Martha Stewart had a stroke of Earl’s bad luck: Her edition of The Apprentice limped out Sept. 21, with 2.3/7 in 18-49 and 7.1 million viewers. New military drama E-Ring and workhorses Law & Order and ER got off solidly. UPN: Everybody Hates Chris, the season’s most lauded new show, premiered with 7.8 million viewers and a 3.2/9 in 18-49s, stellar numbers for UPN. The Tyra Banks wannabes of America’s Next Top Model strutted out to record ratings for its fifth incarnation. But the trick is getting more Chris viewers to stick around for the other Thursday-night sitcoms. THE WB: So far, the network’s push for more 18-34s is stalled. New Jerry Bruckheimer-produced crime show Just Legal, co-starring Don Johnson, and comedy Twins, with Melanie Griffith, got off to lackluster starts. Returning shows such as Gilmore Girls are healthy but appeal to The WB’s already loyal young set.