Jay Leno, "America’s Got Talent" and "Glee" had very good nights Wednesday, but things got ugly for the debut of Ashton Kutcher’s new CW series "The Beautiful Life."
Episode three of "Glee" (the second of the fall) held up very well, averaging a 3.1/8 in adults 18-49. That’s down less than 5 percent from last week’s 3.3/9 in the fast nationals.
Among adults 18-34, "Glee" averaged a 3.5/10 and won the 9 p.m. hour.
Fox execs have to be feeling great about these numbers, particularly since "Glee" faced much tougher competition this week from the finale of "America’s Got Talent" and because new shows always tend to take a dip in their second and third weeks. If "Glee" remains steady next week opposite fully original competition, don’t be surprised if Fox orders the back nine of the show immediately (and then schedules those later episodes behind "American Idol.")
At 8 p.m., "So You Think You Can Dance" was basically flat at a 2.4/7 (vs. a 2.4/8 last week).
Over in "Leno" land, the season finale of "Talent" (3.5/10, 15.5 million) boosted night three of "The Jay Leno Show," which averaged a 3.4/10 in the demo and 13.1 million viewers.
That’s actually UP from night two of the primetime strip — a pleasant surprise for NBC, given that the new car smell on big event series like Leno usually wears off quickly.
The final half-hour of "Talent" peaked at over 18 million viewers, so Leno did suffer some erosion.
But Jay did nicely in the demo, considering "Talent" peaked at a 4.3/11 in the 9:30 p.m. half hour. Leno’s strength Wednesday night can be partially explained by the fact that he faced weaker competiion ("CSI: NY" repeat, "Primetime") last night than he did Tuesday (the "Big Brother" finale, a Patrick Swayze special).
Any analysis of Leno’s early numbers, good or bad, is something of an exercise in futility. Competition remains atypical, lead-ins will change and sampling will diminish. It’s simply impossible to tell right now how Leno will be doing in a month based on these numbers.
As for the modelicious "Beautiful Life," it averaged a 0.8/2 in adult 18-34, a 1.1/3 in women 18-34 and just 1.46 million viewers. It lost almost 50 percent of its "America’s Next Top Model" lead-in (the Tyra Banks reality show held up nicely from its premiere), and was down sharply from last year’s debut of the dead-on-arrival "Stylista."
The CW generally can afford to be more patient with new shows, but if these numbers don’t improve fast, expect a schedule change pronto.