Tired of reading about how well CBS is doing this season? Well, sorry: The Eye remained unblinking last week, racking up its fourth consecutive Nielsen victory in overall viewers and key demographics. It had six of the ten most-watched shows (including No. 1 scripted series NCIS) and finished first in the 10 p.m. time slot Monday through Friday. While the race wasn’t close in viewers, Fox was a very close second in adults under 50, thanks to continued big ratings for Glee, a solid performance by the 100th episode of Hell’s Kitchen, and encouraging numbers for new Tuesday comedy Raising Hope. ABC’s big bright spots, meanwhile, continue to be Modern Family (the No. 1 show of the week among adults 18 to 49) and Dancing With the Stars (the No. 1 entertainment show of the week). Over at NBC, the NFL remains a saving grace for the Peacock: Sunday’s Colts versus Redskins showdown drew just over 19 million viewers. So far this season, Sunday pigskin is luring an average of more than 21 million viewers — the best start for an NFL prime-time package (Sunday, Monday, or Thursday) since 1996.
Save for CBS’s freshman class, newcomers continue to struggle. NBC added another loser to the class of 2010 with the well-meaning School Pride, which brought in less than 3 million viewers with its Friday premiere. Fox’s Running Wilde continued to erode, drawing just 3.3 million. And NBC’s Outlaw, shifted to Saturday to die a slow death, lived down to expectations, bringing in around 3.4 million (losing to repeats of crime dramas on CBS).
Crunching the Numbers
With the network race settling into a groove, now’s a good time to look at how some cable offerings are performing. One show that’s taken a big hit from the return of network competition: E!’s Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Its return to the 10 p.m. Sunday slot in late August was watched by a near-record 4.8 million viewers, but it’s been bleeding viewers since: This week’s half-hour slipped to just 2.8 million viewers. On the plus side, Kim and Co. beat the much more hyped Mad Men season finale (2.4 million) and remained No. 1 with viewers under 50. But in addition to losing audience to the broadcast nets, Kardashians is also getting a run for its money from TLC’s massive new hit Sister Wives, which averaged around 3 million viewers with two episodes at ten and ten-thirty. The polygamy-fest also edged out E!’s hit with women 25 to 54, finishing No. 1 for the night in that demo.
Elsewhere on Sunday, HBO’s Boardwalk Empire appears to have stabilized: After debuting to 4.8 million viewers last month, the show fell all the way to 2.6 million viewers a week ago. This Sunday, however, it upticked to 2.9 million. What’s more, when you count same-week repeats and DVR viewership, the first three weeks of Empire are averaging more than 12 million viewers, making the show a clear-cut hit. Meanwhile, the week’s No. 1 show on cable overall? Nickelodeon’s iCarly, which drew 6.7 million viewers on October 11.