Lost vs Criminal Minds
While it was the most watched show with 19 million viewers, that is 4 million less than the season two premiere. That's a pretty big drop. Of course, that didn't stop ABC from spinning the numbers in their press release. They make a big deal of the fact that the premiere scored Lost's highest viewer numbers since Jan of 06. Now, call me the cynic, but I read those numbers a completely different way.
To me, that means that the show managed to bleed 4 million viewers by January, and never got them back. In fact, it proceeded to lose even more. If this season trends anything like the last, and the show starts from a base with 4 million less viewers, there could be a challenger to that Wednesday at 9:00 throne.
And that challenger would be the CBS procedural Criminal Minds. Going head to head with the season three premiere of Lost, Criminal Minds managed 15.1 million viewers. That's a pretty sound defeat, but nothing that puts the serial island adventure out of reach. We've already seen that Lost is capable of dropping that many viewers. Add to this the fact that the Criminal Minds had a household rating of 10. That is a big jump from the 7.7 it garnered last season at this time. In its second year, the show is still building its audience.
So, am I reading too much into the ratings? Has Lost bounced back from the slump it suffered last season? Based on the mixed reactions from the pilot, I'm not convinced it has. The possibility for the continuing erosion of viewers is there. Criminal Minds may or may not be able to overtake them, but it will be fun to watch.
An interesting aside to this comes from the quasi-official Lost site, The Fuselage. Damon Lindelof, responding to someone he thought was implying that they wouldn't pull off the ending for season two, said, "...either keep watching and try to be nice every once in awhile...Or as I've suggested before, go check out CRIMINAL MINDS. It's awesome and they solve THEIR mysteries every week." You can read the full post, archived here. It was a funny line at the time, but it looks like some people might have taken him up on the suggestion.