Fridays have become such a programming wasteland that it's no surprise ABC and NBC (which both spent all of last night airing reruns) have more or less abandoned the night, choosing to air cheap reality, in the case of the former, or cheap genre shows, in the case of the latter. But last night, CBS, Fox, and The CW had the night all to themselves… and nobody watched them! Surprise, surprise. Only two programs broke 10 million viewers (and one just barely), only one hit a 2.0 in the demo, and everybody was reminded that Fringe is only on because, well, Friday nights have, weirdly, become the savior of low-rated TV shows. Let's take each network one by one.
Fox: Fox, which airs Fringe, is probably the only one you guys care about, and it was pretty consistent throughout the night. Kitchen Nightmares, which has been running in this spot for years now without you realizing it, pulled in a 1.6 in the demo and 3.84 million viewers. Perhaps most ridiculously, that 1.6 was enough to win the whole time slot in the demo. (To put it in perspective and show you how little people watch TV on Fridays, Community actually beat that 1.6 rating this week.) Fringe followed, and while it didn't do particularly well, its 3.53 million viewers and 1.5 in the demo were good for third place in the 9 p.m. hour and probably good enough to keep it around should it maintain that number. (Fox loves the show and would presumably love nothing more than to shed its "We cancel all good shows!" image.) In its press release, Fox trumpeted how much Fringe was up over last year's time slot denizen, The Good Guys, which… remember that show?
The CW: Both Nikita and Supernatural opened pretty far off of what was happening in the time slot last year, but it's not really a fair comparison, as what was happening last year involved Smallville, and neither of these shows is that one in terms of audience affection. Nikita grabbed 1.88 million viewers and an 0.6 in the demo, while Supernatural found 1.95 million and an 0.8 (exactly matching its season finale performance in the spring).
CBS: CBS often ends up as the juggernaut on this night, and that's largely because the only people watching TV on Fridays are, well, old. In many cases, the "only old people watch CBS" stereotype is just that. (Over the course of this week, the network has regularly had several of the top five shows per night in the demo.) But on Fridays, it's true. Granted, it has one of the two shows to score a 2.0 in the demo (the other, weirdly, is the second hour of NBC's Dateline, which grabbed a 2.2), but every single show here is an example of just how far the disparity is between the demo number and the viewership number. Promising drama A Gifted Man opened the night with 9.31 million viewers, a nice (if slightly soft) start that was sunk just a bit by the fact that it pulled only a 1.4 in the demo. (Reminder: Fringe pulled a 1.5, despite having around a third of the viewers.) This was followed by CSI: NY, which was the very last show CBS renewed last year (choosing it over the Criminal Minds spinoff at the last minute). The Gary Sinise stalwart grabbed 10.67 million viewers but only a 1.8 in the demo (though that was good enough to win the hour in both categories). Finally, Tom Selleck-starrer (and sometimes pretty good cop drama) Blue Bloods pulled in 11.85 million viewers and a 2.0 in the demo. It won the former for the night, but lost the latter to, again, Dateline.
In conclusion: Friday TV is a hellish wasteland, and you're probably better off leaving the house. (You didn't hear this from us.)