Less 'Lost' Sleep in '08

So, ABC Entertainment president Stephen McPherson, do you want "Lost" in an earlier timeslot next season?

"Saturday morning, 7:30," McPherson deadpanned to reporters Tuesday morning.

But seriously, folks: When "Lost" does begin its fourth season in early 2008, McPherson is hoping to put it in an earlier timeslot than its current 10 p.m. ET berth. "I think it's better as a 9 o'clock or 8 o'clock show," he says.

The show's move to 10 p.m., which came at the end of a three-month hiatus, has resulted in a ratings dropoff, at least in the "live plus same-day" numbers Nielsen releases -- that is, people who watch the show either as it airs or within a few hours. After averaging 17.8 million viewers for its first six episodes in the fall, the show has hovered in the 12 million-viewer range since its return in the same-day numbers.

However, McPherson says that "live plus seven" ratings -- which also account for people who record the show and watch it within the next week -- give the show a pretty good-sized bounce. "We literally saw a doubling between ['Lost' airing in] the 9 and 10 p.m. slot in TiVo-ing, more than double actually," he says. "I think that's a factor of it being on at 10; more people are DVR-ing it."

In Tuesday's announcement of the schedule for 2007-08, McPherson didn't give "Lost" a specific spot in the lineup when it returns, most likely in February 2008. He did say it's likely to remain on Wednesdays, and reiterated that he'd like the show to air before 10 p.m., but where it lands will depend on how ABC's lineup performs in the first half of the season.

"Listen -- its a great position to be in," he says. "We're going to see where we are coming into the spring and see what happens. It's a tool to use."