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September 25, 2008

'Knight Rider' sputters; CBS wins night

KnightriderUPDATED: NBC's "Knight Rider" had starter trouble in the ratings race Wednesday night while CBS continued its premiere week victory lap of year-over-year gains.

Despite having the highest level of viewer awareness of NBC's new fall shows, "Rider" (7.4 million viewers, 2.5 preliminary adults 18-49 rating and a 7 share -- THR review here) opened in third place in the 8 p.m. hour, slightly less than "Deal or No Deal" in the slot last year and half the rating the "Rider" movie pulled down last February.

"Rider" faced the debut of CBS' new comedy hour, featuring a transplanted "New Adventures of Old Christine" (6.5 million, 2.1/6) from Monday night and the series debut of Jay Mohr laugher "Gary Unmarried" (6.8 million, 2.4/7 -- THR review here). The comedies underperformed "Kid Nation" in the slot from last year, with "Christine" earning 34% less than when it was snuggled in the Monday block.

NBC and CBS faced heavy competition in the hour from ABC, which came in second place for the night and won the 8 p.m. time period by stretching its "Dancing" (15.9 million, 3.6/10) results show to Wednesday this week.

President Bush’s brief live address at 9 p.m. pushed back the rest of the night's major broadcast network programming, but the speech didn't stop CBS from having a terrific rest of the night.

The season premiere of "Criminal Minds" (17 million, 4.7/12 -- improving nicely in the nationals) was the highest-rated show of the night, followed by "CSI: NY" (14.6 million, 4.0/11) winning the 10 p.m. hour. "Minds" was up an impressive 34% compared to last year and "CSI" climbed 8%.

CBS has now demonstrated gains on the first three nights of premiere week, despite a relatively modest performance from its new shows. With the network not facing "Dancing" next week at 8 p.m., CBS expects their comedies to improve and help the network dominate the night.

"We're extremely happy with the way our returning series have performed so far," says CBS scheduling chief Kelly Kahl. "We’re up on the first three nights, bucking the conventional wisdom that audiences might not come back as strong. Continued strength with these shows establishes a great environment for audiences to find our new series."

Other results: Fox aired "Bones" (9.7 million, 3.1/9) followed by its comedy block of "Til Death" (4.6 million, 1.4/4) and "Do Not Disturb" (3.5 million, 1.3/3), the comedies dropping slightly once again. CW aired an on-par "America's Next Top Model" (4.1 million, 2.1/6). NBC aired "America's Got Talent" (10.3 million, 2.7/7) followed by the second season premiere of NBC's "Lipstick Jungle" (6.3 million, 2.4/6), which was in third at 10 p.m., down 14% from last year, bested by "CSI" and the final hour of ABC's special, "David Blaine: Dive of Death" (7.1 million, 2.6/7 and, nope, he didn’t die).


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