The new fall TV season officially kicked off last night, and based on debut overnight ratings (plus their comparison to lead-in ratings and year-ago performance in their time slots), Mediaweek columnist Marc Berman declared NBC’s new series Surface (10.9 million viewers) a winner, gave an honorable mention to CBS’ Out of Practice (13.4 million), and a "loser" designation to Fox’s enjoyable Kitchen Confidential (4.3 million) and The WB’s Just Legal (3.5 million).
But before we get carried away with the new, it’s also fun to look at the old, namely the stats for the full 52-week period from Sept. 20, 2004, to Sept. 18, 2005. For example, did you know UPN’s Bad Girls Guide was the lowest-rated regularly scheduled series for the last 52 weeks, pulling down a paltry average 1.6 million viewers? Or that the mercifully departed Life on a Stick, aided by its American Idol results show lead-in, actually averaged more viewers (9.2 million) than NBC’s Joey (8.6 million)? And for those of you who doubt the power of a Mariska Hargitay-Christopher Meloni sandwich, chew on this: Their series, Law & Order: SVU, averaged a respectable 8.2 million viewers in its repeat Saturday night airings, more than One Tree Hill and Girlfriends combined.