Season 4 I Spy a Hit, Alias Finally Breaks Out


Mar 3, 2003
Wisconsin, USA
I Spy a Hit
Alias finally breaks out

Can Lost turn Alias into a real hit?

Sure, Alias started its fourth season on Wednesday, and has a big cult following. But it's never cracked the Top 30 in viewers over a season in the Nielsen ratings. When it aired after Extreme Makeover: Home Edition last season, it lost more than half of its lead-in of viewers aged 18 to 49, the demographic group advertisers favor.

This week the Alias season premiere only dropped 14 percent from Lost, which had its highest-rated episode ever. While the two-hour Alias declined in each half hour, it was still strong enough at 10 pm to win the hour against CBS' CSI: NY and NBC's Law & Order in total viewers and the 18-to-49 group.

The Alias premiere was given a ton of promotion, and having two shows from writer-producer J.J. Abrams air back-to-back couldn't have hurt. Still, the Alias ratings exceeded ABC's expectations. ABC won't really know for sure how strong Alias is until Feb. 9, when Fox moves American Idol into the Wednesday-at-9 pm slot for six weeks.

But before the season began, it looked like Alias was headed for its last season. Now all bets are off.

Another interesting aspect of Wednesday's ratings: Alias knocked CSI: NY and Law & Order to season lows for original episodes. CSI: Miami also took a hit against the premiere of NBC's Medium on Monday.

It could be that viewers are getting wise about procedural dramas. The CSI and Law & Order franchises are now on at least three times a week on the networks. Repeats from past seasons are staples of the cable networks.

"With the exception of CSI on Thursday, they are not appointment television," said one network executive. "You can watch them on Spike or USA. You know they are going to be repeated."

But the same executive told The Biz that viewers are in no way tiring of procedurals. It may be that CSI: NY in particular is the weakest link at the moment. Even when the show started out strong in the ratings this season, CBS executives asked for creative changes (which are detailed in this week's TV Guide magazine).

"It's still young and still delicate," said one CBS insider. "You have a show like Alias that has a good rating and carries over two hour, you're going to get hurt."



Azy in Wonderland
Dec 28, 2002
the Ozarks
"It's still young and still delicate," said one CBS insider. "You have a show like Alias that has a good rating and carries over two hour, you're going to get hurt."
Yeah, you bet you are! We're gonna kick your CSI ass!! :boxing:


Azalea said:
Yeah, you bet you are!  We're gonna kick your CSI ass!! :boxing:
:LOL: :ROFLMAO: omg you're just hysterical Azy! :LOL:
--Mandy :angelic:


Jul 8, 2004
Melbourne, Australia
Its an interesting conundrum.

In Australia, the CSI/L&O/Without A Trace's all are ratings hits. Even the repeats have become staple #1 rating shows, with CSI always remaining at the top spot and the other shows winning timeslots for the networks they show on.
Alias recieved great ratings in its first season in Australia, but from then on went downhill as each season progressed. The same went for 24, which while many will argue is different, the plots are organised in a way where you need to stay watching to get the ever reaching season-long twists in the story.
I read an article saying that the reason why CSI style drama's win over commitment dramas like Alias is because they don't require knowledge on something that happened in an episode three seasons ago. People don't feel locked into a show, they feel that they can watch an episode that's self contained, get an hour's dose of entertainment and then get enthralled again with a totally different story the next week.

While personally, I'm not a fan of CSI dramas because, and anyone can argue differently, I find they aren't as complex or as interesting as a show like Alias. Alias has its flaws for sure, but the structure of its story is much more interesting, the characters are more than just know-it-all forensics and there is basis of human drama there with the characters. Things change, the plot is fluid and things change. It makes things more interesting.
As popular as CSI series' are, and there certainly is a place for them on television, the human connection in other shows, like Alias, is the one thing they lack that people will always come back to (I like to hope). Why are Lost and Desperate Housewives such huge successes? This is the reason. If not that, the simple thing is people get sick of things that don't change too much. Giving people more of the same thing doesn't work, you need to feed diversity not deliver carbon copies of the same thing in different places. This backfires and people get sick of it and switch off, leaving the networks to move pieces to dig their way out of the hole they dug themselves into. And you know, you can't dig up as The Simpsons has taught us.

Alias' success is probably more to do with a string of lucky moves; ABC's huge new viewership, Lost being a success, the delay of Alias creating anticipation, the move of Alias thanks to the success of Desperate Housewives and all the usual things - word of mouth, commercial advertising etc.
But its also the point that this was one double episode. Next week, and the following weeks, will deliver a more accurate portrait of what Alias' success really is.

SpyDude said:
For god sakes! i think it should be Alias that raises Lost's ratings. I have never seen Lost and I can't understand what's so great about it?

If you haven't seen it, that is why you don't understand what is so great about it. Wait until you see an episode before you judge it! :)


Dec 21, 2002
Somewhere near Boston
"It's still young and still delicate," said one CBS insider. "You have a show like Alias that has a good rating and carries over two hour, you're going to get hurt."

I think this the best piece of news from the entire article, because it shows just how much the networks respect this show. It might not always get the top ratings but they know it's still a complex, high-quality show, enough for CBS to consider it a threat.