Summer repeats get hot; 'Fear' sizzles

HOLLYWOOD — Original unscripted programs continue to prop up the networks’ ratings averages this summer, but it was repeats — led by CBS drama “CSI” — that delivered some of the most impressive numbers last week.

According to Nielsen, “CSI” was the top-rated program of the week of July 28-Aug. 3 in adults 18-49 (4.3/13), adults 25-54 (5.2/14) and overall total viewers (13.17 million), highlighting a solid week for CBS.

NBC’s “Friends” (4.2/15 in 18-49) and “Fear Factor” (4.1/14) also shone in repeats, with the latter delivering a stronger 18-49 score than every firstrun unscripted program on ABC, CBS and Fox.

The Peacock won in adults 18-49 (2.8/9) for its 10th consecutive weekly victory, with CBS (2.5/8) edging out Fox (2.4/8) for second. The Eye net, which was also just a tick behind 25-54 leader NBC (3.1/9 vs. 3.2/9), took the week in overall total viewers (8 million) and was the only net up across the board in all key categories.

ABC remained fourth and was down by double digits year-to-year.

Cable hauls in auds

It was a good week for ad-supported cable networks, which as a group commanded 53% of the primetime audience (vs. 35% for the six broadcast nets) — the biggest slice of the pie for cable this year.

Original series “Nip/Tuck” on FX, Bravo’s “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” MTV’s “Real World XIII” and “The Osbournes” and USA’s “Monk” all ranked among the week’s top 10 cable programs in adults 18-49.

Firstrun reality programming repped five of the week’s top 10 in 18-49, including NBC’s “Who Wants to Marry My Dad,” “For Love or Money 2″ and “Last Comic Standing” and two episodes of CBS’ “Big Brother 4.”

At NBC, which claimed 11 of the week’s top 20 shows among 18-49, “The Restaurant” is serving up strong numbers, ranking as Sunday’s highest-rated program in the demo (3.6/11). Also, the preem of Wednesday series “Race to the Altar” tied for the slot’s 18-49 lead (2.7/9), outdelivering the last seven weeks’ scores for “Fame.”

‘Law’-ful Tuesday

Thanks in part to its strong “Comic” lead-in, a repeat of drama “Law & Order: SVU” looked strong in its first Tuesday try (3.2/9 in 18-49, 8.62m), dominating its hour.

Net also had the week’s top two comedies in 18-49, with Thursday’s “Friends” and “Scrubs.”

CBS’ “Big Brother” again won all three of its hours in 18-49, including a summer high on Friday (2.9/11). “Cupid” and “Amazing Race 4″ aren’t doing great numbers, but they are providing the net with a younger audience to promote its fall lineup.

Following “CSI” on Thursday, “Without a Trace” easily led its timeslot (3.7/11 in 18-49, 12.03m) and was the week’s No. 2 scripted series in adults 25-54 (4.6/13).

Fox maintained its top standing in adults 18-34 (2.7/10) despite ranking third in 18-49.

Net scored solid second-place 18-49 finishes on both Tuesday and Wednesday from “Paradise Hotel” and its usual consistent numbers from its Saturday staples and “The Simpsons,” but overall had only two of the top 20 programs among 18-49.

Thursday spec “101 Things Removed From the Human Body” did pretty well (3.0/9 in 18-49), grabbing the net’s best score in the 9 o’clock hour since April.

Alphabet in soup

There wasn’t much happening at ABC, which placed fourth or lower in 18-49 on five nights and was really competitive in only a few timeslots — including Wednesday’s opening hour with “My Wife and Kids” and “George Lopez” and Friday at 9 with an original “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”

“The Practice” seems to be making slow, steady progress, grabbing its best scores (1.7/5 in 18-49, 5.34m) since it returned to Sundays in June.

On Monday of the current week, ABC broke through with a victory behind its first NFL preseason game of the year. The rain-shortened Packers-Chiefs matchup delivered the best numbers for the AFC-NFC Hall of Fame Game (4.4/14 in 18-49, 11.05m) in four years.

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