House delivered just what the doctor ordered for Fox and Global–a big ratings boost.
The fifth season premiere was a particular hit in Canada, as House drew 2.8 million viewers Tuesday night on Global according to BBM/Nielsen overnight estimates. Of those, 1.6 million were in the all-important 18-49-year-old range.
Another 14.41 million tuned in to House in the U.S. on Fox, boosting the Hugh Laurie drama to No. 1 on the night (but down from last season’s average). Better news for Fox was the strong boost from House for week two of Fringe, which saw ratings grow by 62% week-to-week in the demo according to Mediaweek’s Programming Insider Marc Berman. In total, Fringe drew 13.36 million viewers across America.
That translated to strong–but proportionally lower–numbers for CTV’s “A” channel in Canada, where Fringe scored 819,000 viewers, edging week three of Global’s 90210 (790,000) in total households. Beating them both in the timeslot in Canada was CTV’s aging (along with its audience) Without a Trace (875,000), raising the question: How long before Fringe flips from A to CTV?
Meanwhile, 90210 held steady in the states, matching its 3.33 million viewers from the week before. It went up 19% in week three in Canada, thanks to that mighty House lead-in, edging Fringe in the 18-49 head count, but just by an estimated one thousand viewers.
In the P.R. war of words between CTV and Global, both put the best spin on their afternoon headlines. “‘A’-Mazing: Fringe Bests 90210, Sets New Benchmark for ‘A’” crowed CTV, while the rival private broadcaster boasted, “Global Wins The Night Nationally And In All Key Markets” and “90210 Wins Time Period in Key A18-49 & A18-34 Demos Nationally.” Proving once again that if you reach and spin, you can touch the ceiling.
As for Fringe, there was a nice pace to episode two. Anna Torv is growing on me as the fearless and determined FBI agent, as is Joshua Jackson. Was fun to see the designers try to match sets now that production has switched from Toronto to New York. Lost from the pilot, among other things, were all those fun angular walls behind Blair Brown from the new addition to the Royal Ontario Museum. Gained, however, were glimpses of the Empire State Building out the more conventionally shaped windows.
Important to note that Fringe went up substantially in week two in the U.S. while 90210 went way down. Besides better writing, I’m guessing one of the things viewers like about Fringe is fewer commercial interruptions (50 minutes of show per hour compared to the usual 43, 44 minutes). The endless clutter in Canada has become distracting and off-putting, enough to turn you off television. Hearing “Fringe will be back in 90 seconds” at a station break was nostalgic, a leap back to the days before “closed captioning was brought to you by some lame-ass Idol wanabee.” Network TV is losing audience share and hats off to Fox for trying to present more content and less interruption for viewers who have plenty other options.
The return of House was one of the topics for discussion this week on CHML Talk Radio with Scott Thompson. We also bantered about comedy hottie Tina Fey channeling Sarah Palin on SNL and last night’s Toronto theatre screening of the third season premiere of Heroes, airing over two hours this Monday on Global. You can listen in here.

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