ABC has achieved a feat it hasn’t been able to in nearly three years: The network landed a number one show on Oct. 3rd when Desperate Housewives debuted with a whopping 21.6 million viewers. Along with Lost, ABC has captured the number-two spot from NBC as the most watched network and the number-one spot among the 18-to-49 demographic, a group that attracts the big bucks from advertisers.
Incorporating new and daring programming into a rather dead line up that has plagued ABC for the last few years has salvaged the network. This time last year, ABC was bringing up the rear, beating only the WB and UPN in the ratings war. ABC failed at creating successful new series and was forced to deal with complete line up changes because of the public’s lack of interest in the family network.
Desperate Housewives and Lost have outperformed a lot of the season’s sure-fire hits including Joey, The Apprentice 2, Father of the Pride, Listen Up and LAX. An airplane crash offshore a desolate island leaves 48 survivors to depend on one another for survival: Lost shares a few of its traits with Tom Hanks’ Castaway, except there’s no Wilson and instead the island is filled with a group of people with hidden agendas. Or, if the visual’s not strong enough for you, think, Survivor scripted and staged. Gone are the moronic warnings of angry contestants replaced only with cliched phrases. Lost is instantly addictive; similar to most illicit drugs, one hit is all you need before getting hooked. The show draws audiences into the troubles of these unfortunate individuals, and the series of strange occurrences will keep this series a hit. The show was the first sign that things are starting to look up for ABC and that the uphill battle for ratings has finally reached an interesting playing field.
The network’s gem has to be the controversial and sexy Desperate Housewives that is not only dominating Sunday nights but is killing most of the competition throughout the week. When a program that airs on Sunday — traditionally one of the least-watched nights of programming ahead of Friday and Saturday — steals the lion’s share of the audience, it’s spectacular. Other networks have taken notice of the show’s success and NBC has already begun talks of developing a similar series. Has the new series set off another TV fad in the vein of reality TV and game shows? That still remains to be seen, but it’s safe to say NBC and CBS won’t be far behind. In its second week, Desperate Housewives retained 93 percent of its premiere audience, beating Law and Order by more than 8 million viewers.
The new fall season has been kind to ABC, proving that their hard work to find a programming schedule that’s successful has paid off. Now CBS and NBC will have to worry about what ABC is planning next. Desperate Housewives and Lost have given the network two runaway hits and with their continuing effort to put out great television, ABC’s future is looking very bright.