NBC has tough week as Fox wins again

Tue Mar 17, 2009 11:43pm EDT

The main entrance to the NBC television network studios is pictured in Burbank, California, October 11, 2007. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

The main entrance to the NBC television network studios is pictured in Burbank, California, October 11, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Fred Prouser

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - NBC took a double punch in the ratings last week as two of its new shows opened to modest numbers.

The debuts of Sunday night drama "Kings" and Wednesday cooking competition "Chopping Block" underline how a fourth-place ranking makes its difficult to bring an audience to a new show. With the network turning its 10 p.m. hour over to Jay Leno's talk show in the fall, the premieres could hint as to how new programs might be received.

But the issue could be the shows themselves. Critics hacked apart "Chopping Block" (3.8 million viewers). The alternative-universe setting of "Kings" (6.1 million) has made the show a tricky pitch on a night when the network has struggled to gain momentum.

NBC's week also was highlighted by the return of several original cast members to Thursday's "ER" (10.9 million), bumping the ratings to the show's highest in two years, while viewership for Sunday's "Apprentice" (6.8 million) registered a drop.

Fox won the week, though top-rated drama "House" (12.4 million) hit a four-year low Monday against ABC's hugely rated premiere of "Dancing With the Stars" (22.8 million). "Dancing" had its biggest premiere audience in five years, while new mystery drama "Castle" (10.8 million) had a solid debut at 10 p.m.

Fox's "American Idol" (Tuesday: 25.8 million) perked up the week, however, with Tuesday and Wednesday's episodes demonstrating clear gains. Friday night's "Dollhouse" (4.3 million) ceased its weekly erosion and climbed slightly in the ratings for the first time.

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