Expect Ratings Fight on Tuesday Night

With solid returning shows, Big Four see major ratings competition
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Tuesday night in broadcast primetime could be one of the most competitive nights of the week this fall with the Big Four networks-ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC-all having solid returning shows and some interesting chances for success among the five new shows scheduled for the night.

ABC returns the Dancing With the Stars results show at 9 and medical drama Body of Proof at 10, CBS returns its two most watched dramas in NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles, Fox returns its third-year musical comedy Glee, and NBC has solid 18-49 demo-watched Biggest Loser.

But media buyers believe the new Fox sitcom New Girl leading out of Glee and the new CBS drama Unforgettable leading out of NCIS: Los Angeles have a good shot at success.

ABC is trying to establish a new night of comedy and will offer Last Man Standing starring Tim Allen at 8, and ensemble comedy Man Up at 8:30, but buyers believe these shows, even though they are counter programming genres, will find it harder to draw big audiences against Glee, NCIS and Biggest Loser, all of which do well among the 18-49 demo.

The CW, going after a younger audience, has new drama Ringer, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar that was originally developed for CBS. Geller starred for many years in Buffy, The Vampire Slayer on both the WB Network and later UPN, two younger skewing broadcast networks that merged to form The CW.

Here is a breakdown by time period. All ratings data is from Nielsen.

8 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Fox's Glee will be entering its third season and actually increased its ratings in its second year. The cast of the show is performing live around the country in special shows and this is sure to give it added exposure. Glee averaged 10 million viewers in this time period this past season and a solid 18-49 rating of 4.0. No reason to think it will lose a step.

CBS' NCIS is the most watched scripted drama on television, averaging 19.3 million viewers this season, along with a 4.1 18-49 rating (second among all TV dramas just behind ABC's Grey's Anatomy, which posted a 4.3). Maybe the show has peaked, but it is still expected to maintain its high audience levels.

NBC's veteran weight loss reality competition show Biggest Loser (8-10 p.m.) averaged 8.7 million viewers in this time period this past season, but also averaged a decent 3.1 18-49 against stiff competition.

All of which explains why it is going to be tough for the two ABC sitcoms to make inroads. ABC is hoping that Last Man Standing, Tim Allen's return to the network (he starred in their hit Home Improvement from 1991 through the 1998 season) will draw viewer interest. But as buyers point out, a lot is going to depend on the writing and what viewers it can lure away from the heavily watched competition. The success of Man Up, with a lesser-known cast, could very well depend on how Last Man draws.

The CW moves returning drama 90210 from Monday night to Tuesday night at 8 and again, CW shows have to be judged differently than the Big Four series. 90210 averaged 1.6 million viewers this season but targets a narrower audience of mostly women 18-34, and many advertisers buy CW shows to hone in on that demo.

9 p.m. to 10 p.m.
ABC's hour-long DWTS results show averaged 18.6 million viewers in the time period this past season and a 3.9 18-49 rating. Not to be outdone, NCIS: Los Angeles averaged 16.4 million viewers and a 3.6 18-49 rating on CBS in the same time period.

Fox is trying to add more sitcoms to its schedule and it is giving a new comedy, New Girl, starring Zooey Deschanel (whose sister Emily stars in the Fox Thursday night drama Bones) a key time period leading out of Glee at 9.

Deschanel has a younger movie audience following and the median age audience of Glee should flow right into this new sitcom about a young woman who moves in with three guys after he boyfriend cheats on her. Buyers liked the pilot and the time period and give this show a solid chance to succeed. Also, it leads into the returning Fox sitcom Raising Hope, which had a marginal freshman season averaging 6.4 million viewers and a 2.7 18-49 rating.

CW's Ringer with Gellar, about a woman whose twin sister dies and she assumes her identity, also airs at 9. Again, a lot of how this show fares will depend on if the former WB and UPN fans, along with those who see Gellar's movies, make the weekly commitment to watch the show. There are some buyers who feel that this series is going to skew a bit older than the traditional CW audience and that the network should have paired it with its other older skewing drama, Nikita, rather than with 90210.

NBC airs the second hour of Biggest Loser in the time period and usually retains most of its first hour audience.

10 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Interestingly, CBS moved one of its hit dramas, The Good Wife, out of this time period and into the 10 p.m. Sunday slot. That opened up a spot for new drama Unforgettable, about a woman with the ability to remember every detail of every day in the past. It stars Poppy Montgomery, who co-starred in long-running CBS drama Without a Trace, as an ex-cop who uses her skill to help the police solve crimes.

Buyers liked the pilot and believe it will get a good audience flow out of NCIS: Los Angeles. It also succeeds another female skewing drama in The Good Wife in the time period.

That time slot will be competitive, however, with ABC's Body of Proof locating there after it joined the network's schedule toward the end of last season. The show actually averaged slightly more viewers than The Good Wife, 13.6 million per night (although The Good Wife's average was based on an entire season). Body of Proof, which stars Dana Delaney as a medical examiner, also averaged a 2.8 in 18-49.

NBC returns family drama Parenthood in the time period, and while the show has been critically acclaimed, its ratings have not been as stellar. The show has averaged only 6.7 million viewers in a time period that usually has the most overall viewers in every night, but has done a decent 2.8 18-49 rating.

Many media buyers believe NBC should have moved the show to a 9 p.m. time period, and don't believe it is a good fit leading out of Biggest Loser.

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