ABC's comedy gamble paid off nicely Wednesday with strong sampling for "Modern Family" and "Cougar Town," but CBS also had reason to smile (again).
NBC's new nurse drama "Mercy," meanwhile, did not impress in its debut and sent "Law & Order: SVU" to what may be its lowest demo rating ever. And CW's "Beautiful Life" is now on life support after another subpar showing.
--Boosted by a "Dancing with the Stars" lead-in that disappears soon, "Modern Family" (4.3/12 in adults 18-49, 12.73 million) won its 9 p.m. timeslot. "Cougar Town" held all of "MF's" under-50 viewers (4. 3/11, 11.43 million).
Combined, these are the best comedy premiere numbers on any network in two years.
These are very encouraging numbers for ABC, since it means the network was able to get audiences to sample its new comedy wares. Next challenge: Holding them when two more half-hours ("Hank," "The Middle") premiere, and "DWTS" disappears from Wednesday.
At 10 p.m., ABC's "Eastwick" (3.0/8, roughly 8.6 million) frittered away a big chunk of its lead-in, but bowed respectably for an ABC 10 p.m. drama.
--NBC had another tough night. "Mercy" (2.3/7, 8.3 million) finished fourth in the 8 p.m. hour against weak competition. Those numbers are worse than the 2.5 demo rating earned by "Knight Rider" last fall.
The good news: NBC was within striking distance of CBS and Fox, so there's a chance it could become more competitive in coming weeks.
The low "Mercy" numbers crushed "SVU" (2.6/6, 8.3 million), which was way down from its 10 p.m. average on Tuesdays.
On the plus side for NBC, both of its Wednesday shows added audience throughout the night. And, as the Peacock notes, these numbers are a big improvement over whatever the network aired in these timeslots last year for the length of the season (more than 40 percent better, apparently).
The Jay Leno/Future of TV Watch: 2.0/5 in adults 18-49. Third place. Second lowest ratings yet.
--CBS was first in viewers and tied ABC for the adults 18-49 lead. While its 8 p.m. comedies were meh and ranked third in the under-50 demo -- though up vs. last year! -- "Criminal Minds" (4.2/11, 15.4 million) and "CSI: NY" (4.0/11, 14.56) did well (though "CM" was down 11 percent vs. last year). "CSI:NY" crushed rivals at 10 and was flat year-to-year.
It's going to be a very good premiere week for CBS.
--Fox did fine, especially among viewers under 35. "Glee" (3.0/8, 6.62 million) lost 6 percent of its week-ago demo tune-in-- not bad given the increase in competition. "So You Think You Can Dance" (2.5/8, 5.6 million) wasn't hurt by "DWTS": It actually grew a smidge vs. last week.
The network also won every half-hour it programmed last night among adults 18-34.
--The CW's "America's Next Top Model" did fine against increased competition, down just a tad in adults 18-34 (1.5/5).
But "The Beautiful Life" didn't do so well. It dropped to a 0.6/2 in the under-35 demo and a puny 1.1 million viewers. If only producer Ashton Kutcher could convert his Twitter followers into viewers.
We may have a winner in the first show to be cancelled derby.