Second half-hour salvages demo numbers

HOLLYWOOD — The waters off “Survivor” island cooled by a degree or two this week, but the CBS series continues to rate as a scorcher on the Nielsen thermometer — especially in its final half-hour.

Wednesday’s episode slipped slightly below last week’s monster ratings levels in total viewers and adults 18-49, but the final 30 minutes saw a surge in viewing that produced the series’ best numbers yet in these categories from 8:30 to 9. This week’s seg, which was the last for a dairy farmer named Dirk, also posted best-yet marks in several other key demos.

Saving better for last

“Survivor” is seeing huge gains on the last half-hour, a sign that the good weather and long days are keeping increasingly more viewers outside and away from their sets until later in the evening.

According to Nielsen, the fifth of 13 weekly hourlong “Survivor” segs averaged 23.98 million viewers and a 9.6/31 in adults 18-49 — that’s down a scant 1% and 2%, respectively, from last week. It marks the first time that the series’ overall scores in these categories have failed to top its previous week’s numbers.

Its adults 18-49 rating in the 8:30 half-hour, though — when more TVs are in use and the program’s drama heightens with the ousting of one of the castaways — was a series best 10.6/33, improving on last week’s 10.5/34. “Survivor” built by 23% in the key demo (8.6 to 10.6) from its first half-hour to the second.

The series also hit a high water mark during that half-hour in total viewers (25.89) and homes (16.4/29).

As for other demos, “Survivor” posted best-yet marks in adults 25-54 (10.6/32), teens (5.7/24) and kids (4.4/17), improving slightly in each case on last week. Its adults 18-34 rating of 9.5/33 ranks behind only last week’s 9.8/35.

Week’s winner

“Survivor” is poised to finish the week as the No. 1 primetime program of the week by most, if not all, of these measures.

From 8-9, CBS topped the com-bined average viewership of the other five nets by 9% in total viewers (23.98 million vs. 21.93) and by 17% in adults 18-49 (9.6 vs. 8.3).

Through five original broadcasts, “Survivor” is averaging 21.02 million viewers, making it the most-watched summer series run on record, according to CBS Research. “Survivor” has surpassed on that list NBC’s “Seinfeld,” which averaged 20.16 million viewers for its first five episodes in the summer of 1990. Coincidentally, “Seinfeld” bowed May 31 of that year — 10 years to the date before “Survivor’s” launch.

Last year’s summer smash, ABC’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” averaged 14.36 million viewers for its 13 August installments.

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