ABC competition delivers key 18-49 demo

Dance fever spread across the dial to Fox on Wednesday, as the net’s premiere of “So You Think You Can Dance” delivered nifty Nielsens.

Hoofer competish from 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Prods. dominated its two hours, putting up the best young-adult rating for a Fox telecast this summer and the second best for a preem on any net.

“Dance” topped ABC’s “Brat Camp,” which still performed well in its second week, and overwhelmed CBS’ “Rock Star,” which posted its lowest scores to date.

Fox’s big bow comes two weeks after the boffo finale of ABC’s surprise hit “Dancing With the Stars.” Unlike the Alphabet series, which matched pro dancers with celebs, the Fox skein is modeled after the format of “American Idol,” in this case with wannabe dancers.

According to Nielsen, “So You Think You Can Dance” averaged a 4.6 rating/15 share in adults 18-49 and 10.3 million viewers overall from 8 to 10. Numbers are pretty close to what “American Idol” launched to in June 2002 (4.8/14 in 18-49, 9.9 million).

This makes it the summer’s No. 2-rated premiere in 18-49 — right behind NBC’s “Hit Me Baby One More Time” (4.7/13), but ahead of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” (4.3/12) and “Brat Camp” (3.9/12).

Better than baseball

And for Fox, it topped the Major League Baseball All-Star Game (4.3/13) to rate as the net’s highest-rated program since the finale of “American Idol 4″ on May 25. It’s also the best start for a Fox summer skein since “American Juniors” in June 2003.

Fox Entertainment prexy Peter Liguori said execs at Fox were “trying to get our jaws off the ground at the numbers” and said the impressive start made it “a nice morning to wake up to.”

Mike Darnell, the Fox reality guru who developed “Dance” with 19 Entertainment, admitted he wasn’t expecting the skein to bow as well as it did.

“It was a shocking number for us, because it’s not been a summer where everything (in reality) has launched,” he said. “We didn’t see this number coming.”

More bang for buck

Liguori noted Fox spent “minimal dollars” promoting “Dance” off of its air, instead focusing its promo power on its own network spots. He said marketing chief Chris Carlisle did a “masterful job” designing a campaign that began all the way back in May, while “American Idol” was still on the air.

Show picked up steam with each half-hour, faring best among women 18-34 (6.5/21). It also nabbed a solid 13 share in adults 25-54.

Next week, “Dance” airs a 90-minute episode (8-9:30 p.m.) and then it’s expected to occupy its regular 8-9 p.m. slot. Like “American Idol,” the first couple of weeks feature performer auditions before skein settles into competition/elimination episodes.

If “Dance” stays hot, it could make for a crowded and competitive late-September in the Wednesday 8 p.m. hour. UPN’s returning hit “America’s Next Top Model” returns in the slot for its fifth edition Sept. 21, and NBC is expected to launch its Martha Stewart version of “The Apprentice” around that time.

‘Brat’ hangs tough

Elsewhere Wednesday, ABC’s “Brat Camp” (3.7/11 in 18-49, 9.36m) declined a mere 5% from its strong week-earlier preem, looking good despite tougher competish.

Same couldn’t be said for the Eye’s “Rock Star” (1.6/5 in 18-49, 3.31m), which posted the lowest scores of its five episodes this summer as it moved to its new 9 o’clock slot. Of course it got little support from weak lead-in “The Cut” (1.3/4, 3.47m).

The debut of A&E’s magician skein “Criss Angel Mindfreak” (0.8/2 in 18-49, 1.69m) fared pretty well at 10, following the 9 o’clock bow of tattoo-parlor show “Inked” (0.4/1, 0.89m). Cabler was especially pleased with the young skew of “Mindfreak,” which logged a median age of 33.5.

Over at ABC Family, “Venus and Serena: For Real” (0.6/2 in 18-49, 1.50m) fared best among female teens (1.2/4) with its 10 o’clock preem. And the finale of FX’s “30 Days” drew 1.46 million viewers.

(Denise Martin contributed to this report.)

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