Audiences aren't tiring of reality, they just want new twists on the old themes. That's why they loved Dancing with the Stars, that's why American Idol is the top-rated show of the season, and that's why viewers took a cotton to ABC's American Inventor.
The two-hour premiere of the Simon Cowell-produced series, which pits hopeful gadget creators in a competition to win fame and adulation, snared an average 5.4 among 18-49 year olds in last nights premiere episode. By comparison, the second season premiere of Stars earned a 4.7 in the Thursday 8 p.m. time slot, and that show went on to challenge Survivor for Thursday-night ratings supremacy.
More importantly, Inventor was able to improve ratings with each successive half hour--the show, which Simon Cowell calls "heartwarming," gained almost 50 percent in ratings from start to finish.
At 8 p.m., Inventor posted a 4.3 rating, besting CBS's broadcast of NCAA college basketball at a 3.5, NBC's Will & Grace at 3.7, and Fox's That '70s Show with a 2.4.
Inventor rose to a 5.5 at 8:30 p.m., against basketball on CBS at 3.7, Four Kings on NBC at 2.9, and new sitcom The Loop on Fox at 2.0.
At 9 p.m., Inventor continued its ascent, notching a 5.6 against NBC's My Name Is Earl at 4.5, CBS's basketball at 4.3, and Fox's The OC at 2.2.
In the 9:30 p.m. slot, it was Inventor at 6.2, basketball at 4.6, NBC's The Office at 4.2, and Fox's The OC at 2.6.
Inventor helped ABC win the night with a 7.8 average rating and a 13 share. CBS came in second at 7.3/12, NBC was third at 7.0/11, Fox was fourth at 3.5/6, Univision earned fifth at 2.2/4, the WB was sixth at 1.8/3, and UPN brought up the rear in seventh at 1.6/3.
During ABC's red-hot run with Dancing with the Stars, returning CBS reality warhorse Survivor had trouble fending off the newbie. When Survivor returns to CBS after March Madness is over, the real test for both shows will begin.