NBC wins ratings race for a week

by Paul William Tenny

nbc.jpgIs must-see TV back?

NBC was bringing up the rear last year in the ratings and they've actually been off the radar for a good little while now. Heroes and The Office have done well, but the former isn't any match for heavy weights like House or CSI -- although it did draw even with Lost for a short time -- while the peacock's reality offerings hadn't been able to go head-to-head with American Idol, even if they have been winning time slots on off nights.

To be fair, nothing else has been able to kick Idol in the junk either.
The addition of reality salesman Ben Silverman has helped somewhat in that department but he hasn't made up much ground with serial dramas and episodic hour-longs. Heroes struggled last season and a lot of people aren't sure if it can recapture the magic in volume 1. If you go back further, The West Wing lost its luster when creator Aaron Sorkin left over "creative differences" which is synonymous with network interference, shooting themselves in the foot. It probably should have been let go right then and there. E.R. has been the network's mainstay for years but even that series is finally calling it quits after this season. As far as I know, NBC has nothing solid to replace it with either.

Knight Rider is coming soon but I'm sure it'll go back to where it came from just as quickly. NBC didn't play it straight with Bionic Woman and yet they seem convinced that they can make that style of "rerun" work, ignoring evidence that nobody really wants these shows back on the air without changes. They tell it all over again to an entirely different generation of viewers and expect it to just work. That kind of mentality is the result of network executives who want their favorite old shows back on the air rather than programming for the younger viewers that their advertisers want.

One episode of Bionic Woman was so devoid of originality that it was mocked as a recycled episode of Million Dollar Man nearly beat for beat.

Even so, NBC has made some inroads with its reality and sports packages and actually managed to win last week (Sept. 8-14) in all relevant ratings categories. What's more surprising is that Fox ended up fourth in total viewers. Even with a head start on the comeptition, the return of the Terminator spin-off series and the debut of Fringe, Fox still fell mostly on its face. Terminator lost 23% of its viewers off the March finale and Fringe only just beat that finale by about a million viewers and well below the Terminator series premier. Based on the ractions I've seen generally, I think Fox is in for another gut punch come Wednesday morning.

Really, Fox may have sat on its butt for too long and allowed other networks to start catching up. NBCs lead may vaporize once the real fall schedule blooms in a week or so, but you can't ignore that CBS and ABC also beat Fox last week.

Oh yeah, did I mention that NBC stole the Superbowl from Fox this season?
in Ratings, Television


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