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“Modern Family,” “Cougar Town” Score Big Premiere Ratings

In a world where “30 Rock,” a three-time Emmy winner for Outstanding Comedy, barely pulls acceptable ratings, it is easy to forget that viewers sometimes do flock to critically-acclaimed comedies.

“Modern Family” and “Cougar Town” demonstrated that phenomenon. The new ABC comedies debuted to strong ratings Wednesday night, winning the 9PM hour for the network in adults 18-49.

Going into the premiere, “Family” had ranked as the best-reviewed new sitcom of the season. “Cougar Town” was not so glowingly reviewed but still generated a lot of media buzz ahead of Wednesday night.

The reviews and buzz paid off; “Modern Family” bowed to 12.7 million viewers, while “Cougar Town” scored 11.4 million. Both garnered a 4.3 adults 18-49 number.

Though they clearly benefitted from the “Dancing With The Stars” lead-in (14.9 million with a 3.2 rating), very few shows have been able to retain anything significant out of “Dancing,” indicating that there was indeed special curiosity for the new ABC comedies.

“Eastwick,” which closed out the night for ABC, dipped to 8.5 million with a 3.0 demo rating.

CBS’ 8PM comedies did not perform as strongly; “The New Adventures of Old Christine” and “Gary Unmarried” debuted with 7.7 million and 7.3 million viewers, respectively. Among adults 18-49, “Christine” posted a 2.3 while “Gary” earned a 2.4. “Criminal Minds” (12.1 million, 4.2) and “CSI: NY” (14.6 million, 4.0) followed.

The debut of “Mercy” was nothing special with 8.2 million viewers and a 2.3 demographic figure. “Law & Order: SVU” (8.4 million, 2.5) dropped from past performance quite a bit at 9PM, while “The Jay Leno Show” appears to be stabilizing (6.4 million, 2.0).

FOX’s “So You Think You Can Dance” has yet to make a big impact this fall, but its numbers fortunately (5.6 million, 2.5) did not get demolished by the “Dancing with the Stars” competition. The fourth “Glee” episode dipped a bit against the new competition but remained solid in 18-49 (6.6 million, 3.0).

“The Beautiful Life” does not appear on track for a lengthy lifespan on The CW. Leading out of “America’s Next Top Model” (2.8 million, 1.3), the most recent airing managed a paltry 1.1 million viewers with a 0.5 demo rating.

2009 New York Television Festival - Modern Family & Cougar Town

Written by Brian Cantor

Brian Cantor is the editor-in-chief for Headline Planet. He has been a leading reporter in the music, movie, television and sporting spaces since 2002.

Brian's reporting has been cited by major websites like BuzzFeed, Billboard, the New Yorker and The Fader -- and shared by celebrities like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj.

Contact Brian at brian.cantor[at]headlineplanet.com.

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