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Ratings Five-Spot - Two and a Half Men, New Girl, Prime Suspect, Modern Family, Nikita

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In case you missed last week's edition, this is a weekly feature at SpoilerTV where I break down the five biggest TV ratings stories of each week. There was so much going on during premiere week that I really had trouble boiling it all down to a "Five-Spot"! What I'll do is look at the really big story of premiere week, then a winner and a loser both among the new shows and the returning shows. Here's the premiere week Ratings Five-Spot:

  • Two and a Half Men - Everyone expected Ashton Kutcher's debut on Two and a Half Men would be big. But this big? I see entertainment journalists say they were "great ratings" and, while I guess that's true, it seems like the understatement of the year! To try to put Two and a Half Men's 28.74 million viewers and 10.7/25 adults 18-49 rating in perspective, here are a handful of notable accomplishments for that 10.7 18-49 rating:
    Event Since… Previous High Note
    Biggest regular scripted episode of TV 2/22/07 11.6 Conclusion of Grey's Anatomy ferry arc
    Biggest scripted comedy episode 5/16/05 11.2 Everybody Loves Raymond finale
    Biggest Two and a Half Men ratings Ever 8.1 Aired after Everybody Loves Raymond finale on 5/16/05
    Bigger than any 2010-11 regular scripted episode Ever 5.9 Glee's Britney Spears episode on 9/28/10
    Also benefiting in a big way were the shows that surrounded Two and a Half Men. The 8:30 episode of How I Met Your Mother got a 5.2 A18-49 rating, its highest in series history. And leading out of Men was the premiere of 2 Broke Girls, whose 7.1 A18-49 rating was the biggest for a new scripted series launch since Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles back in January 2008. CBS noted it was the biggest audience for a comedy debut since Inside Schwartz in 2001.
    The bottom line: any time you have to dig this far back in the history books is a real stunner, because we're in a day and age when broadcast TV ratings are constantly on the decline.
    Oh yeah, and on that same night, Comedy Central aired its roast of Charlie Sheen to nearly eight million viewers. It was their highest-rated roast ever and about doubled the ratings of some recent ones. Overall, a pretty #winning night for all parties involved in the saga of Charlie Sheen. Was all this a sign of CBS Monday dominance to come or just a really weird statistical anomaly? That's what we'll learn in the coming weeks.
  • New Show Winner: New Girl (Fox) - Outside of the huge 2 Broke Girls launch, there was one other great piece of news among premiere week's big launches: the Zooey Deschanel-led comedy New Girl. It opened up with 10.28 million viewers and a stout 4.8 A18-49 rating, meaning it (like 2 Broke Girls) had a stronger 18-49 start than any new scripted show from last season. Fox, a network particularly notable for its failures in live-action half-hour comedy, has got to be over the moon with this start. It did more than 50% better than Raising Hope's premiere in the same half-hour last year, and that's pretty amazing considering Glee was actually almost 30% weaker at 8:00. Will it hold up? Probably not completely, but it's worth wondering if some folks who sampled through the various pre-air avenues might show up for week two. I typically don't read much into those situations, since online viewing is still small compared to TV viewing, but iTunes claims over two million watched New Girl via its free download. Honorable Mention: Pan Am (ABC).
  • New Show Loser: Prime Suspect (NBC) - There's a saying in sports that the season can't be won in the first few weeks, but it can be lost. New TV shows are like that too. A show can start great and ultimately fail, but it's very rare to start poorly and then blossom into something. So the biggest definites from premiere week are always the things that flop out of the gate. There weren't multiple massive premiere week failures like last season, but the two weakest starts belonged to NBC dramas The Playboy Club (5.20 million viewers, 1.6 A18-49 on Monday) and Prime Suspect (6.05 million viewers, 1.8 A18-49 on Thursday). I think Suspect is the bigger disappointment because it had a much bigger lead-in and was a "safer" choice thematically. NBC's in terrible shape across the board, so these shows may not be yanked immediately, but neither seems to have a long-term future. The only good news for Prime Suspect is that it won't have to face Grey's Anatomy next week (it had a two-hour premiere extending into the 10:00 hour), so let's see if it can defy the odds. Dishonorable Mentions: The Playboy Club (NBC), Charlie's Angels (ABC).
  • Returning Winner: Modern Family (ABC) - Premiere week developments have got a lot of people calling this the "year of the comedy." The most flashy examples were the CBS Monday comedies described above, but a big shout-out has also got to go to ABC's Modern Family. Three days after cleaning up at the Emmys, its third season premiered with 14.53 million viewers and a 6.1 A18-49 rating, both easily the highest numbers of the series to date. That 6.1 made it another show (along with Two and a Half Men and 2 Broke Girls) to exceed the highest-rated regular scripted programming of all of last season. Honorable Mentions: The Middle (ABC), Castle (ABC), The Big Bang Theory (CBS).
  • Returning Loser: Nikita (CW) - Last week, I mentioned the CW's strategy of rolling out their shows early. That tends to set them up for a brutal traditional opening week when everything else comes back in premiere mode. This year was particularly tough, with the decent Secret Circle and Ringer launches of last week both plummeting below the 1.0 A18-49 threshold and all the returnees dropping at least two tenths. Perhaps the worst news of all came on Friday, when Supernatural took a huge dip from last season's premiere numbers (nearly 40%). Maybe even more alarming was the season two premiere of Nikita, which got just a 0.6 A18-49 and couldn't even manage half of what Smallville got in its timeslot last year. That 0.6 made it the CW's weakest original program not named H8R. Most networks are used to having their weakest shows on Friday, but Smallville and Supernatural were among the CW's strongest last year. Supernatural has proven it isn't impossible to make a successful transition to the so-called "Friday death slot," but it looks like Nikita's proving it isn't exactly easy either. Dishonorable Mentions: Harry's Law (NBC), Glee (Fox), Supernatural (CW).
For more in-depth TV ratings coverage every day, check out my blog at or follow me on Twitter: @spotupj.

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