TV News: NBC Struggles on Wednesday Nights, CBS Wins Close Ratings War

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CHICAGO – The first new Wednesday of the Fall 2012 season told a predictable story — CBS and ABC are doing well, FOX is still under-delivering, and NBC is in dire shape. As for new shows, “The Neighbors” was well-sampled out of mega-hit “Modern Family” but we’ll see if that lasts while “Animal Practice” and “Guys with Kids” can practically feel the blade of the cancellation axe already.

CBS chose to stick with old standbys on hump night and the move has paid off as the eye network has barely inched into first place on the evening with “Survivor” (6.9 rating), “Criminal Minds” (7.7), and “CSI” (6.9). All three shows are down slightly from a year ago but to degrees that are relative with the overall erosion across network TV as more and more people use DVRs, On Demand, etc.

FOX continues to plug away with “The X Factor” on Wednesdays and Simon Cowell’s show scored a 7.0 rating for its two-hour block, a strong number for sure but nowhere near what was expected for this program, especially given the hype about this year’s new judges. It’s down 12% from last year when it really should be up at this point in the season even just for Britney Spears curiosity factor.

ABC launched their comedy block with the underrated “The Middle” (6.2) in an extended version. “The Middle” has turned into a reliable hit for the network even though it’s one of those shows hardly anyone talks about. “Modern Family” easily won the night with its 10.2 rating, up 4% from last year. This is a comedy beast, one of the biggest hits on TV. 64% of the “Modern Family” audience hung around to check out “The Neighbors” (6.5), making it a hit in the process. The awful sitcom will move to the other side of the Emmy winner next week and we’ll see how ratings progress.

The story is not nearly as pleasant over at NBC where “Animal Practice” debuted its first non-Olympics episode and was instantly put on cancellation watch with a dismal 3.9 rating, deep into fourth place and down 17% from the premiere of “Up All Night” a year ago. Yikes. “Guys with Kids” followed with an even-more-dire story, dropping to a 3.6 rating, barely above the 3.3 rating scored by the almost-instantly-cancelled “Free Agents” last season. Both of these shows are in serious trouble. Guess all that Olympics promotion didn’t pay off.

Tonight is a big night for TV as CBS and ABC premiere newly-configured line-ups. Stay tuned for all of your ratings news as the first full week of the season continues and upcoming reviews of “Elementary,” “Made in Jersey,” “Dexter,” “Homeland,” “Family Guy,” “666 Park Avenue,” and much more!

Source: TV Media Insights content director Brian Tallerico

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