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September 10, 2008

Fox's 'Fringe' wins night; '90210' drops

By Paul J. Gough

NEW YORK -- Fox's super-sized "Fringe" premiere performed above the margin while last week's surprise hit, the CW's "90210" fell back to earth in Tuesday's primetime.

Airing with a lighter load of commercials, Fox's 90-minute supernatural drama averaged 9 million viewers and a 3.2 rating/9 share in the adults 18-49 demographic, according to preliminary estimates released Wednesday by Nielsen Media Research. That made it the highest-rated program of the night in the demo and one of the best drama premieres on Fox in two years.

Fringe_2 While it wasn't vintage "X-Files" in the ratings especially with all the promotion surrounding it, "Fringe" beat all original competition and grew in viewers and adults 18-49 from 8 p.m.-9:30 p.m. On the other hand, the season premiere of "Bones" averaged a 3.3/9 last Wednesday. "Fringe" also will probably benefit from having "House" ahead of it in the coming weeks when the medical drama returns to the schedule.

But the "Fringe" premiere was mostly positive news for Fox two weeks before the beginning of the official TV season, there wasn't much you could do with the CW's "90210." It dropped precipitously from last week's premiere, any way you look at it. "90210" dropped 32% week-to-week in adults 18-49 and 26% in viewers. It was in fifth place in the hour in the demo and even among women 18-34, "90210" fell 36% and was just barely ahead of the ratings for "Big Brother" and "Wipeout" in that demo.

There were some positives: It was the highest-rated show in women 12-34 and women 18-34, and it was up 26% in women 18-34 for what the CW had in its time period last year, the season premiere of "Beauty and the Geek." But "90210" did little for the premiere of "Privileged" (2.9 million, 1.3/3), which kept only about three-quarters of its adults 18-49 and women 18-34 audience.

Fox also had trouble with its lead-out, with the game show "Hole in the Wall" (5.1 million, 2.1/5) falling sharply from "Fringe" as well as dropping 40% compared with its Sunday premiere when it had the NFL overrun to help it.

NBC won the night in viewership, thanks to "America's Got Talent" (11.6 million, 2.6/7) and increased its adults 18-49 rating 29% from beginning to end. It beat in viewership a new episode of ABC's "Wipeout" (7.2 million, 2.8/8) and CBS' "Big Brother" (7 million, 2.6/7). It however was "America's Got Talent's" lowest demo rating for a Tuesday all summer.

Meanwhile at 10 p.m., ABC's "Primetime: Medical Mysteries" (6.9 million, 2.2/6) won in adults 18-49 against the last hour of "Fashion Rocks" and a repeat of NBC's "Law & Order: SVU" (7.7 million, 1.9/5). "Fashion Rocks" (5.1 million, 1.9/5) was ahead of last year's demo rating (1.1/4).

For the night, Fox (8 million, 2.9/8) won in adults 18-49 against ABC (7 million, 2.7/7); CBS (5.7 million, 2.1/6); NBC (10.3 million, 2.4/6); and the CW (3.1 million, 1.5/4).


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