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September 17, 2008

'Fringe' makes ratings leap

FringeUPDATED: The second episode of Fox's supernatural science thriller "Fringe" jumped a stunning 59% in the ratings Tuesday night.

"Fringe" (13.2 million viewers, 5.1 adults 18-49 rating and a 13 share in the national Nielsen ratings) climbed significantly  in the adult demo compared with last week's two-hour premiere. The 9 p.m. sci-fi drama retained 91% of the adult demo rating from its new lead-in -- the debut of Fox's returning hit medical drama “House.”

According to Fox, the "Fringe" spike is the largest ratings jump a new series has made from Week 1 to 2 on any broadcast network in more than a decade. That gain comes despite some increased competition from NBC, whose latest installment of "The Biggest Loser" (7.9 million, 3.2/9) premiered slightly better than last season’s debut.

Yet the news was not all sunny for Fox. "House" (14.7 million, 5.6/16) helped fuel "Fringe" but was down 28% from last year's premiere and was the lowest-rated Tuesday original of the drama since 2005. Last year, the show aired  at 9 p.m. and during the official broadcast premiere week, so it had a more effective launch period.

If “Fringe” and “House” are able to roughly maintain this week’s level of popularity, a softer “House” number will be irrelevant. Fox's goal is to have two winning hours on Tuesdays this fall instead of one. If these two syringe-and-microscope dramas can hold steady against the gauntlet of increased competition during the next few weeks, Fox will gain a formidable Tuesday-night beachhead.

In its third week, the CW's "90210" (3.3 million, 1.7/5) managed to halt its ratings plummet after last week's steep drop. The teen drama stopped at a number similar to "Gossip Girl." The show even improved slightly among the network's target women 18-34 demo. The fate of "90210" was likely aided by a lack of competition from ABC Family's hit soap "Secret Life of the American Teenager," which aired its finale last week.
New CW drama "Privileged" (2.4 million, 1.1/3), however, failed to improve its meager debut rating at 9 p.m. and sunk a tenth in the adult demo.

Fox easily won the night. NBC placed second with a "Families" edition of "Loser" (which, it should be noted, also faced greater competition this year going against "House" and part of "Fringe"), plus a repeat. ABC and CBS tied for third, with CBS airing the season finale of "Big Brother" (7.6 million, 2.7/7). ABC ran a 90-minute season finale for "Wipeout" (6 million, 2.0/6), which was a combination of a clip show and original material, followed by a "Primetime" special (5.7 million,1.9/5).


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