Fox's First New Season Break: An Early "Prison Break"

The networks have formally begun their fall season programming assault, and Fox is the first to strike pay dirt. "Prison Break"'s two-hour premiere on Monday debuted to a healthy Nielsen 4.6 rating/12 share with adult viewers 18-49.

The show, about a man who purposely holds up a bank to get into prison to help his brother escape, will have another airing this week. It'll settle back into its regular time slot, Mondays at 9 p.m.

"Prison Break" is technically a pre-season start of sorts. Since the actual start to the new fall season doesn't occur for a couple of weeks, according to Nielsen, Fox is looking to gain some marketing advantages without the clutter of other new network programming. That said, Fox did well, according to analysts. Still, it wasn't against much new programming, and a truer test will arrive when all the networks are in full swing.

On Monday, CBS came in second, averaging a 3.3/9 for a bunch of repeats--"The King of Queens" (2.6/8), "Everybody Loves Raymond" (2.7/8), "Two and a Half Men" (a 3.3/8 and a 3.5/9), and "CSI: Miami" (3.7/10). ABC's "Monday Night Football" had a pre-season match-up between the St. Louis Rams and Detroit Lions, averaging a 3.1/8.



NBC came in fourth with a 1.8/5, with repeats of "Fear Factor" (1.8/5), "Las Vegas" (1.9/5), and "Medium" (1.8/5).

Well behind that was UPN, putting up a slim 0.8/2 and the WB with a 0.7/2.

In other summer ratings news, Turner Broadcasting continues to tout its big summer success. For the entire summer period, TNT prime ratings picked up 17 percent to averaging 2.90 million viewers, thanks to the new original series "The Closer" and "Wanted," and the miniseries "Into the West."

USA Network came in second place with 2.32 million viewers--down 8 percent from last year--mostly from a dropoff from "The 4400," which debuted last summer to strong ratings.

Among other big networks' scores: Fox News soared 27 percent to 1.91 million viewers. Lifetime charged up 7 percent to 1.81 million. TBS was down 5 percent to 1.66 million. Cartoon Network was off 8 percent to 1.58 million viewers.

Big gainers included Spike TV (up 63 percent), Hallmark Channel (up 38 percent), AMC (up 25 percent), and MTV (10 percent higher). Losers included Discovery Channel (down 19 percent), ESPN (off 12 percent), CNBC (12 percent lower), FX, and A&E (each down 7 percent).

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