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Low for 'Leno,' 'Community' Gets an A

Busiest night of the new season shows mixed results for NBC, good news for CW and a win for Fox

Despite an all-comedy lead-in, Jay Leno fell to his lowest ratings of the week Thursday, but NBC got nice sampling for new half-hour "Community" while the CW's "Vampire Diaries" took another healthy bite out of the ratings.

 

And Fox? It actually beat NBC to win the night overall,  led by a nice premiere for "Bones."

 

Lots and lots and lots of data to go over from last night. Here are some early highlights:

 

--"Leno": Averaged a 2.7/8 in the demo and 8. 5 million viewers, according to prelim national Nielsen data. Smallest audience in four broadcasts. Won the hour in adults 18-49 but lost to a repeat of "The Mentalist" on CBS in viewers. This was the first night this week where Leno's lead-in wasn't a special but regular NBC programming.

 

--"Community": Score a 3.7/10 at 9:30 p.m. That's a nice number, since "The Office" averaged a 4.0/11 at 9. Best "Office" retention NBC has ever seen with series programming.  "Community" is only slated to follow "The Office" for a month, so it's good the Joel McHale half-hour is taking advantage of the chance to get sampled.

 

-- "Survivor": Showing signs of age. Did a 3.5/11 in the demo and 11.5 million viewers. Lowest debut ever (but they're all going to be from now on). See the Fox numbers below for why that's not so hot. Russell the villain better get crackin'.

 

And yet, it is season 19 (year 9). The show still won its time slot. CBS will take it and be happy. And ABC will hope this means "FlashForward" can do some business in the hour next week. No excuses.

 

-- "Bones" and "Fringe": "Bones" notched a 3.0/9 at 8, while "Fringe" held with a 2.9/8 at 9. "Bones" came close to "Survivor" in the demo, and gave Fox its best demo number for a fall premiere in 3 years, while "Fringe" was also a solid second. Both shows are down, but they didn't air on Thursday last fall, and "Fringe" was the major focus of Fox's marketing last fall (this year, not so much).

 

This is a good, not great performance for Fox, since big guns on CBS and ABC weren't in the game. The question: How much of this audience can these shows hold next week?

 

Also worth noting: Fox actually ended up winning Thursday night in the demo (3.0 rating), edging out NBC (2.9). 

 

--"Vampire Diaries": Against much tougher competition (DVR alert!), the show proved it's still undead. Results: 1.7/6 in adults 18-34, 2.6/8 in women 18-34 and 3.76 million eyeballs. That's down from the premiere: 2.2/8 in 18-34, 3.0/10 in women 18-34 and 4.84 million viewers.

 

The women 18-34 hold -- the show fell about 15 percent-- is most encouraging, since that's the CW's core. Men, however, seem to be leaving quickly. Maybe Megan Fox has a sister who wants to get into acting?

 

--"SNL Weekend Update"/"Parks & Recreation": Scored a 2.0/7 and 2.1/6, respectively. Not good. At all. "Kath & Kim," perhaps the most loathed new show of last season, debuted at 3.2/9 last year. Is it too late to bring back "My Name is Earl?"