Sons of Anarchy isn't taking its hand off the throttle.
The FX biker drama has been averaging around 4 million viewers all season, but Tuesday's episode - which pulled in 3.7 million viewers to handily win the night among cable channels - was competitive with the major networks in the adults 18-49 demographic. More significantly, Sons' 2.2 rating outperformed both The Jay Leno Show (1.8) and ABC's The Forgotten (TV) (2.0) in the demo.
NBC stands behind Leno's numbers. "The Jay Leno Show continues to top our expectations," a network spokesman told us. "And, as always, we are looking at this on a 52-week basis."
Calls to ABC for comment were not immediately returned.
Sons creator and executive producer Kurt Sutter wrote in his blog that networks have opened themselves up to being beaten by cable by producing the same shows over and over.
"I have a director friend... who says the job of a network executive is to turn everything to sh--," Sutter wrote. "They hire you to stop them from doing that. Unfortunately, the sh---turners are winning. Nowadays it's all about formula.... [You] hope that no one notices that it's the same old crap repackaged. But folks always do. In recovery, the "definition of insanity" is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Primetime is an active asylum."
In other ratings news, ABC again dominated Thursday nights, with Grey's Anatomy taking the title of the night's most-watched show with 14.7 million viewers. Survivor: Samoa, CBS' only non-repeat of the night, improved to 12.9 million viewers and a season-high rating in the demo.
Fox's coverage of the American League Championship Series averaged 10.3 million viewers for the night. NBC's comedies saw improvement across the board: Community (5.2 million viewers) and Parks & Recreation (5 million viewers) had slight improvements, while The Office (8.5 million viewers) and 30 Rock (6.7 million viewers) both saw jumps of 400,000 viewers.