LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - CBS won the first week of the new U.S. TV season, but big investments by struggling NBC in new scripted shows paid off with the network seeing the biggest year-to-year growth of its four broadcast rivals.
Television viewer data on Tuesday showed that ABC, boosted by its celebrity-laden “Dancing With the Stars” and Emmy-winning comedy “Modern Family”, finished second overall in total viewers after the first week.
Fox came in bottom, despite its hit musical comedy “Glee” bringing in 12.5 million viewers and being the most-watched entertainment show among 18-49 year-olds.
On Tuesday, Fox canceled its critically-acclaimed but low performing new show “Lone Star” which became the first casualty of the new season
Nielsen figures for the first week of the 2010-11 season showed CBS in the lead with an average 12.5 million total viewers nightly and 13 of the top 20 shows in prime-time hours, followed by ABC with 9.6 million, NBC with 8.1 million and Fox with 6.5 million total viewers.
In the 18-49 audience group most coveted by advertisers, the positions were little changed with CBS first, followed by ABC and NBC tying for 2nd, and Fox fourth.
On the back of new shows “Hawaii Five-O” and comedies “$#*! My Dad Says” and “Mike & Molly”, CBS swept premiere week in total viewers, adults 18-49 and adults 25-54 for the first time in 2004. The network -- which also finished as the most-watched last season -- was up six percent in total viewers compared to premiere week a year ago.
NBC grew 8 percent with costly new shows like mystery drama “The Event” and new comedy “Outsourced” getting off to good starts and bumper audiences for Sunday football.
NBC finished in fourth place overall last season after a disastrous cost-cutting experiment with “The Jay Leno Show” in prime-time hours, five days a week. But the network spent heavily to fund 12 new scripted shows for this season, buying action thrillers from hitmaking producers such as Jerry Bruckheimer, J.J. Abrams and David E. Kelley.
Aside from the triumphant return of Emmy-award winning “Glee”, several of Fox’s new shows struggled to catch hold. The News Corp-owned network showed the biggest year-on-year drop (minus 16 percent) among viewers 18-49 who for years have been the network’s strongest demographic.
Fox’s “Lone Star” -- a drama about a con man leading a double life -- premiered to a dismal 4.1 million viewers and was axed from the schedule on Tuesday after just two episodes. Fox said the show would be replaced by “Lie to Me”.
Fox’s new Keri Russell and Will Arnett comedy “Running Wilde” also had a disappointing opening, while the audience for veteran medical drama “House” was down from a year ago.
All the major networks noted that time-shifted viewing is up again this season, with digital video recorder (DVR) penetration in the United States at 38 percent, up from 33 percent a year ago.
ABC said that full episode viewing on ABC.com and on its iPad application during premiere week jumped by 63 percent over the same period in 2009.
Fox is a unit of News Corp, ABC is owned by Walt Disney Co., CBS is owned by CBS Corp, and NBC is currently a unit of General Electric Co.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte