Premiere Night: Fox Rocks, ‘Bang’ Explodes, Leno Dives (Duh)

Oh, what a night: Big drops for some veteran shows, but CBS and Fox have reasons to smile.

 "The Big Bang Theory" exploded in its new timeslot Monday, while a summer of promotion paid of for "House" with a big win for Fox and Jay Leno took his expected hit from intense season premiere competition.

 

The first night of the 2009-10 season saw a slew of premieres and numbers. Some early Nielsen highlights (and lowlights), according to fast national data:

 

–"Big Bang" averaged a 4.6/10 in adults 18-49, improving on its "Two and a Half Men" lead-in (4.4/10) and finishing second in its slot behind Fox’s "House." If "BBT" continues to build, it will become TV’s No. 1 comedy. The student has become the teacher. ("Men" was down 17 percent in the demo vs. its premiere last year)

 

–"House" was on fire with a 6.5/16 for its two-hour (8-10 p.m. premiere), up 14 percent over lat year. That helped Fox win premiere Monday for the first time in the network’s history. The network’s stealth summer marketing, which turned into an all-out frenzy in recent weeks (including a big premiere at the Cinerama Dome), paid off. 

 

–"How I Met Your Mother" did nicely in its new leadoff position at 8 p.m., averaging a 3.5/10 (down just a hair from what "BBT" did in the slot last year). 

 

–CBS didn’t get much love for the series premiere of "Accidentally on Purpose." It notched a 3.2/8, down 20 percent from what "How I Met Your Mother" did in its premiere last season. Still, the audience retention was good, so no panic buttons at CBS.

 

–"The Jay Leno Show" dropped to a worst-yet 1.8/5 and 5.6 million viewers at 10 p.m. Not. A. Surprise. This will be a tough week for the Chin as viewers check out other shows.

 

–"Dancing with the Stars" notched 17.5 million viewers and a 4.1/10. The show was down about 20 percent in the demo (lowest premiere yet),  no doubt impacted by the big "House" number. Still, it was the No. 1 show of the night in overall viewers and in demos, it finished ahead of CBS’s comedies and NBC’s "Heroes."

 

–ABC’s "Castle" returned for season two with a so-so 2.3/6, despite a big lead-in from "Dancing with the Stars." It avoided the embarassment of finishing behind "Leno," though, so there’s that. And it did 10 percent better than the dying "Boston Legal" averaged last fall. 

 

–Tough night for some returning shows.

 

Viewers are tired of giving "Heroes" another chance: The show’s season premiere averaged a 2.7/7, a big decline from last year’s 5.0/12. On the positive tip, that number isn’t too far removed from what the show was averaging overall last season.

 

Also losing audience: "CSI: Miami" (4.3/11), down almost 20 percent from last year’s bow. Still, it beat the competition on NBC and ABC combined, the Eye notes.