While much focus has been Two and a Half Men's phenomenal performance for the Nine Network overnight, it's important to note that it also signified the beginning of the American fall television season. All the major networks will be launching their biggest season hopes over the next few weeks, as well as returning existing hits.
According to official overnight results, it was a strong CBS outfit that delivered the goods, while NBC fell far behind the competition. After a summer of controversy, Two and a Half Men returned with a bang as it delivered a series high performance across all measurements.
The death of Charlie Sheen's character captured a resounding 28.74 million viewers for the season premiere, easily making it the night's top rated programme. With adults 18-49, it scored a huge 10.7 rating or expressed in other terms, 24 per cent of all adults within that age bracket. It was the highest rated season premiere of any scripted programme with adults 18-49 since 2005.
The figures boosted the entire night for CBS as the premiere of 2 Broke Girls, which followed directly after, worked exactly as planned for the network. It pulled in 19.37 million viewers scoring 7.1 with adults 18-49. Earlier in the night, How I Met Your Mother also delivered its best even figure with a premiere audience of 11.0 million (4.7 demo). Its second episode did even better as a lead-in to Two and a Half Men with 12.22 million (5.2 demo).
Needless to say, all other networks were well behind. ABC came second overall with the premiere of Dancing with the Stars holding up well on 19.03 million (4.0 demo). However, figures were down considerably from its fall premiere in 2010. Better news came from the 10:00pm screening of Castle with 13.28 million (3.2 demo) tuning in for the cliffhanger resolution.
Fox wisely held off the premiere of Terra Nova until next week, instead screening the finale of Hell's Kitchen between 8:00pm and 10:00pm. Its first hour managed 6.04 million viewers, while the second hour dropped to 5.94 million. It held a 2.6 demo rating across both hours.
NBC was well behind in fourth, starting the season with some shocking figures. Its decision to screen The Sing-Off in the fall didn't pay immediate dividends, easily being drowned out by the competition. Just 5.3 million decided to play along, resulting in a weak 1.9 demo. The night only got worse at 10:00pm when NBC's much-promoted The Playboy Club got off to an appalling start of just 5.02 million (1.6 demo). The figure made it the nights lowest-ranked new programme in primetime - a terrible result for the struggling network.
Overall it was an easy victory for CBS with ABC coming a distance second. Further back was Fox in third, leaving NBC dead in fourth place. The CW, which went with repeats for the entire night, came an unsurprising fifth.
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