Maybe Ghost Whisperer was the only scripted series able to get a demo number at 8 PM on Fridays. CBS is trying a second consecutive drama with ghosts in the slot following the cancellation of Ghost Whisperer, to similar modest results. In its premiere last night, A Gifted Man (1.4/5) matched the season debut in the hour of Medium last year. (Medium was canceled a couple of months later.) That was down 39% from the season opener of Ghost Whisperer the year before. In total viewers, Gifted Man represented a vast improvement vs. last fall with 9.3 million viewers vs. 6.1 million for Medium. That was CBS’ largest audience in the hour since May 2009 when the network had Ghost Whisperer on. At 9 PM, veteran CSI: NY (1.8/6, 10.7 million) was down 10% in the demo from last season’s debut in the slot but finished No. 1 in the hour. 10 PM anchor Blue Bloods (2.0/6, 11.8 million) was down 9% in the demo from its series premiere last fall. It tied NBC’s Dateline as the highest-rated program of the night in 18-49 and was tops in viewers. CBS (1.7/5, 10.6 million) edged the competition to finish No. 1 for the night in 18-49 and total viewers.
Fox’s Fringe (1.5/5) and its lead-in, Kitchen Nightmares (1.6/6) were both down from January when the network first paired them together on Friday and the two series debuted Friday with a 1.9/6 each. Still, a 1.5 and 1.6 was good enough for Fox to post its highest-rated premiere Friday in six years and finish second for the night in 18-49, tied with NBC. (Comparisons to last fall’s premiere Friday are largely irrelevant as Fox aired a Human Target rerun followed by the soon-to-be-gone The Good Guys, none of which cracked the 1 demo rating mark.)
Looking at Dateline (2.0/6 in 18-49, 7.1 million viewers from 9-11 PM) performing way better than many of NBC’s scripted series this week (Playboy Club, Prime Suspect, Harry’s Law, Free Agents) despite airing on a low-rated night like Friday has got to give NBC brass pause. Will we see another Dateline pop up somewhere else on the schedule soon to replace any of the underachievers, or could Brian Williams’ new newsmagazine be summoned sooner than midseason? And will the network proceed with its plan to launch a new scripted series, Grimm, Fridays at 9 PM next month? With repeats of promising new comedies Up All Night and Whitney and Dateline, NBC (1.6/5, 5.8 million) finished tied for second in the demo with Fox. ABC aired reruns of Modern Family and its most promising new series so far, Revenge, leading in to 20/20 (1.0/3, 3.3 million) as the network stayed out of contention (1.0/3, 3.7 million)
CW’s new schedule-mates, Nikita and Supernatural, were down dramatically from last fall, when both had strong lead-ins. Supernatural (0.8/2, 2 million) was down 33% in the demo from last September when it followed Smallville on Friday. Nikita (0.6/2, 1.9 million) was down 47% in viewers from its premiere behind The Vampire Diaries on Thursday.