The desperate housewives of Wisteria Lane handed ABC nearly 7 million more viewers Sunday night than did their unveiling a year ago -- and 36 percent more young adult viewers -- resulting in ABC's best fall-season debut in nine years.
"Desperate Housewives" attracted more than 28 million people at 9 p.m. That appears to be more than double the audience of its nearest competitor, though second-place CBS's 50-minute-ish football overrun played havoc with early national numbers for that network on Sunday night.
"DH" handily won its time period in the 18-to-49 group advertisers covet; it also won the hour among 25-to-54-year-olds, teens, kids and people 50 and up. (Among kids 2 to 11, "Desperate Housewives" tied Fox's animated "Family Guy" and "American Dad," according to the early stats.)
It was, in fact, the second biggest "Desperate Housewives" audience ever -- behind only May's cliffhanger season finale, which clocked just over 30 million viewers.
Meanwhile, it appears that Martha Stewart couldn't get arrested in any way, shape or form last week in prime time. Not only did her edition of "The Apprentice" open poorly on Wednesday, attracting about 7 million viewers, but CBS's Stewart flick, "Martha Behind Bars," also seems to have attracted about 7 million viewers. It would appear that around 7 million watchers of prime-time TV are very interested in seeing Martha TV; the rest of us -- not so much.
Now, on to the more pressing question of whether dead people skew younger than God.
Back in May, when Leslie Moonves, head of all things CBS, was asked whether he thought his new "Ghost Whisperers," starring Jennifer Love Hewitt as a chick who talks to dead people, would attract more 18-to-49-year-old viewers than the drama it was replacing, "Joan of Arcadia," a show about a teenager who talks to God, Moonves said he thought dead people skewed younger than God. It was the best line of the entire week in which the broadcast networks all trotted out their fall lineups.
Last Friday, the premiere of "Ghost Whisperers" clocked 11.3 million viewers. It easily won its 8 p.m. time slot and was, in fact, Friday's most watched program. "Joan of Arcadia," when it premiered in September '03, attracted 13.5 million viewers, but its second-season debut plunged to 8.5 million.
Among the country's 18-to-49 viewers to whom the reporter was referring in the question, Hewitt snared 3 percent in her CBS premiere. This is lots better than the second-season debut of "Joan" last fall, which attracted 2.4 percent of the viewers in that age bracket, but not as good as the 3.7 percent "Joan" had bagged in her premiere in the fall of '03.
Unfortunately, as happens so often in life, it appears that early results are inconclusive re God, dead people and younger viewers.