The Private Practice buzz paid off. Sort of.
After a slew of much-hyped new shows premiered to merely average ratings, NBC's heavily marketed Bionic Woman conquered a tough field of new and returning shows to win Wednesday night.
Bionic Woman earned a 5.5 rating among adults 18-49, topping the premiere of ABC's Grey's Anatomy spinoff Private Practice, which earned a 5.1 rating.
Bionic Woman is the highest-rated new series premiere thus far this fall, with Private Practice second. Bionic Woman won its hour despite Private Practice having a higher lead-in and was the top Wednesday NBC debut since 1999.
The Bionic Woman-Private Practice showdown wounded the rest of the 9 p.m. field. CBS' Criminal Minds was down 22 percent from last year to a 3.5.Fox's Kitchen Nightmares, meanwhile, dropped 22 percent in its second week to 2.4 and The CW's Gossip Girl fell 25 percent to an anorexic 1.2.
At 8 p.m., the Dancing With the Stars results show won the hour (an on-par 4.0), followed by the second week of Kid Nation (2.8, down 10 percent).
NBC's Deal or No Deal (2.6) and Fox's Back to You (2.8, down 10 percent) and Til Death (2.4) followed. The CW's America's Next Top Model stayed strong at 2.4.
- Overall, ABC nudged out NBC for the nightly win by a tenth of a point, followed by CBS, Fox and The CW.
- Among total viewers, ABC's Wednesday night victory was more pronounced, and Private Practice topped Bionic Woman in overall audience.
Ever since May upfronts, when networks unveiled fall schedules, Wednesdays have been the most-discussed night, given the intense array of competition.
Bionic Woman has topped buzz-tracking measures all summer, while Private Practice was dented a bit by a backdoor pilot that aired in May.
In the past week, however, any sense that buzz produces viewers seemed to go out the window as the drumbeats of publicity for CBS' Kid Nation, NBC's Chuck and The CW's Reaper went largely unheeded.
The only safe bet for breakout numbers seemed to be with returning hits, such as NBC's Heroes and Fox's House. Both Bionic and Private (the latter of which, had it aired on any other night, would have dominated headlines this morning) show that freshman premieres can still draw big tune-ins.