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Ad Buyers Pleased With Premiere Week

Broadcast came back and viewers tuned in.

After years of constant decline, broadcast network ratings showed a slight increase last year and judging from premiere week, media buyers said it appeared that the appetite for broadcast programming remains strong.

"This is a good week for the stability of broadcast," said Jackie Kulesza, senior VP/broadcast activation director for Starcom USA. "Viewers came back excited to have their shows back. It will all depend on the content. If the content's good they'll stay. If it's not they're going to leave."

Some of the network's new show may help sustain broadcast's momentum. " I think there is an audience for broadcast television and I think the early indications are that some of these new programs will help them hold on to some those eyeballs versus cable. But we're only three days in," said John Spadaro, senior VP of Media Research & Consumer Insights at Zenith Media.

Clearly there were winners and losers and some surprises. But there was nothing that had media buyers rushing to call the networks seeking make good ads for shows that didn't measure up to expectations.

So far, Mr. Spadaro says most of the shows' ratings were pretty close to the agency's estimates. "Some of these conversations [about potential make goods] started before these shows even came on air," he said. We're constantly in contact with the network on the ones that are performing and the ones that aren't."

Because it's close to the weekend, when people are deciding what they'll be shopping for and what movies they'll see, Thursday is a key night for advertisers-and a night when prices for commercials are fairly high. This week, it was a good night for CBS, which moved Big Bang Theory to Thursday from its strong Monday comedy lineup.

"Big Bang proved itself," said Christine Merrifield, executive VP, Director, Video Investment & Activation and Operations, at Mediavest. "CBS is hesitant to move its sitcoms, but [Big Bang] showed it can launch a night."

Some of CBS's other scheduling moves appeared to working, including moving Survivor to Wednesday and putting the new series Hawaii 5-0 on Monday nights following the comedies. "The moves that CBS made were very strategic and methodical and if you look at each one of them, you could see that those show moves are going to improve the time period," said Kulesza.

On Wednesday night, ABC's comedy lineup, headlined by Modern Family came back strong. "For ABC to have returned three of four comedies on a new night comedy block, that's impressive," Kulesza said.

On Tuesday's Fox's new comedies, Raising Hope and Running Wilde-- underperformed a day after its best new drama.

Fox's best drama, Lone Star got crushed on Monday night.

"We're taking a wait and see on Lone Star. We think Fox really put it best that they want to see another week's ratings before they come to any conclusions," said Spadaro. "The sitcoms on the other hand are concerning. Fox needs to develop a live action sitcom and the early numbers especially around Running Wilde were particularly disappointing."

Helping to take down Lone Star on Monday night was one of NBC's biggest hopes, The Event.

"NBC spent quite a bit of money on The Event and I think changed the dynamic of viewing on that evening," said Spadaro. "But I'm not totally convinced whether that's a trend we're going to see at 9 o'clock across the season of that's a blip."

Some big shows make big returns, including Fox's Glee on Tuesday and Dancing With the Stars on Monday.

"I still am amazed at Dancing. It just continues to prove it's all about casting. Reality shows always are," said Kulesza.

After a long summer, media buyers were glad to have broadcast shows to talk about and ratings to pore over.

"Frankly it's a godsend when we get into this week, Spadaro said. "While the cable networks have been fairly active and there were a few summer series that seemed compelling, It's really nice to have a lot of new content, some new lineups, new matchups, some DVR excitement going into the new season."

"I think it's been an exciting week," said Merrifield. "People always want to talk about week 1 but week 2 and 3 get more interesting: Will they pull the shows and what's the backup plan?"