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Fall TV ratings: Fox's Mindy Kaling beats NBC in comedy bake-off

September 26, 2012|By Scott Collins
  • Mindy (Mindy Kaling) is a skilled OB/GYN navigating the tricky waters of both her personal and professional life in the new comedy "The Mindy Project."
Mindy (Mindy Kaling) is a skilled OB/GYN navigating the tricky waters of… (Beth Dubber/Fox )

There's a TV comedy battle raging on Tuesday nights this fall, and the first round went to Fox.

NBC had high hopes for its new comedies "Go On" and "The New Normal," but as the first week of the new season got underway, the shows look like they're headed nowhere promising for NBC, despite tons of promotion during the highly rated London Olympics and all manner of special previews. 

On Tuesday, Fox's "The Mindy Project" — starring Mindy Kaling, formerly of NBC's "The Office" — beat NBC's gay-dads sitcom "New Normal" in the key category of adults ages 18 to 49, with a 2.4 rating versus a 2.0. (NBC pulled in more total viewers, 5.1 million versus 4.7 million, but that margin consists mostly of older viewers whom advertisers are less interested in.)

VIDEO: Fall 2012 TV Previews

That was similar to the result for "Go On," NBC's new Matthew Perry comedy about a widower looking to start over, which narrowly lost during the 9 p.m. hour to the second season rollout of Fox's "New Girl" with Zooey Deschanel (2.8 versus 2.7).

In truth, neither network will necessarily want to shout those numbers from the rooftops (and neither one did in press material sent out Tuesday). But Fox looks much stronger for the night overall, because it's creating a solid comedy lineup that delivered solid if not spectacular ratings across the grid. Over time, that may lead to viewers developing the Pavlovian habits that network executives love to see, as in: "Tuesday — funny time on Fox — must set DVR!"

NBC, on the other hand, relied heavily on its singing contest "The Voice" to provide a big lead-in for the jokey stuff. And in that, it was sorely disappointed. "Go On" retained an underwhelming 64% of its "Voice" lead-in, which basically means that the teens and twentysomethings who love Adam, Christina and the gang scrambled for the remote as soon as they saw Matthew Perry's face.

Somewhat surprisingly, CBS won the night among both total viewers and adults 18 to 49, even though its anchor, the crime drama "NCIS" (20.5 million, for the night's most-watched program), draws disproportionately high among older viewers.

But there are two explanations for this. The first is that by chasing the same set of young, urban viewers who favor comedy, NBC and Fox are in effect splitting that audience.

Also, ABC has watched as the Season 15 "all-star" version of "Dancing With the Stars" has tanked this week. Tuesday's edition, which saw the elimination of Pamela Anderson, drew just 11.8 million total viewers. That's down 20% from the comparable episode last fall.

What do you think of the new fall shows so far?

ALSO:

Mindy Kaling transitions from supporting role to star

Andy Williams' TV career showcased 1960s talent

"The Voice" recap: A singing vet is sent packing

Twitter: @scottcollinsLAT

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