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September 09, 2008

Fox, NBC top Monday; 'Gossip Girl' hangs in there

By Paul J. Gough

NEW YORK -- Fox and NBC split Monday night's primetime, with Fox winning in adults 18-49 while NBC took the viewership crown. But The CW's "Gossip Girl" kept fighting in its second episode of the new season.

The victories came with a huge caveat, however. The ratings elephant in the room was ESPN's doubleheader opening of "Monday Night Football," which was likely the biggest thing on TV, broadcast or cable, on Monday. Ratings weren't immediately available for "MNF."

The second-season premiere of "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" averaged 6.3 million viewers and a 2.4 rating/7 share in the adults 18-49 demographic, Nielsen Media Research said Tuesday. While that was good enough for first place in the demo at 8 p.m., it was the series' lowest demo rating for an original. "Prison Break" (6.5 million, 2.6/6) was down only a tenth of a rating point in the demo and held steady in viewership compared with last week's premiere. And that was plenty for "Prison Break" to be in first place at 9 p.m. in adults 18-34 and tied for CBS in the hour in adults 18-49. It's down 16% compared with last year's Season 2 episode.

The CW's "Gossip Girl" (3.1 million, 1.6/4) kept pace with its premiere a week ago, down only one-tenth of a point from last week when it was a series high. It also led 8 p.m. in adults 18-34 and women 18-34. It's up 31% in adults 18-34 and 29% in women 18-34, among other increases. "One Tree Hill" (3.2 million, 1.6/4) retained the "Gossip Girl" audience, and is up year-to-year.

NBC won in total viewers at 8 p.m. with "Deal or No Deal" (9.6 million, 2.1/6) but had trouble with "America's Toughest Jobs" (6.5 million, 2.2/5), which continued to fall for a second week. Even though it had repeats the entire night, CBS was only 300,000 viewers off the lead in viewership and in second place in adults 18-49. ABC got double the ratings from last week in the demo for "High School Musical: Stay in the Picture" (4.1 million, 1.1/3). But the "CMA Music Festival" (5.8 million, 1.7/4) fell compared with last year's 1.9/6 on July 23, 2007.

For the night in broadcast TV, NBC (7.4 million, 2.0/5) won in viewership and Fox (6.4 million, 2.5/6) win in adults 18-49. They were followed by CBS (7.1 million, 2.2/6); ABC (5.2 million, 1.5/4); and The CW (3.2 million, 1.6/4).

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