Summer reality skeins still sizzle

ABC swings to top with dancing, hoops

ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” continued its winning ways last week, combining with the NBA Finals to help the Alphabet dominate the third week of the summer season.

But while ABC’s retro-cool wonder is the undisputed breakout hit of the early summer, it’s not the only original skein making noise post-Memorial Day. Indeed, each of the Big Four, along with the WB, has launched an unscripted series to encouraging numbers — much better results than last summer’s slow start.

Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen” had another scorching perf last week, ranking as the week’s No. 2 entertainment skein among adults 18-49. NBC can be thankful for “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” which, despite dipping again, ranked as the Peacock’s top show in key demos and finished No. 13 in adults 18-49.

Even CBS, which hasn’t launched the bulk of its summer sked, has to be impressed by the early perf of unscripted laffer “Fire Me … Please!” With virtually no promotion, skein has done a credible job luring viewers Tuesdays at 9 p.m. and last week finished in the top 20 among young adults.

The WB, meanwhile, has already renewed its summer success story, “Beauty and the Geek,” for a second season (Daily Variety, June 21).

Looking at the digits, Alphabet — which until last week hadn’t won a week in demos since January — made it two in a row, averaging a 2.5/8 in adults 18-49 for the week ending June 19. Fox (2.2/7) was second, followed closely by CBS (2.1/7) and NBC (2.0/6).

Fox had the best summer-to-summer gains, increasing 10% over the same frame a year ago, while NBC’s 23% slide made it the biggest loser.

CBS (7.82 million) easily won the week in total viewers, while the Eye and Alphabet finished in a tie among adults 25-54.

Not all the news was good for broadcasters last week: While cable skeins like TNT’s “The Closer” set basic cable records — skein’s 2.4 rating placed it No. 25 for the week among all TV shows in adults 18-49 — first-run scripted fare on the major nets remains a tough sell.

Original segs of the WB’s “Summerland” are doing no business on Monday nights, while crime drama “The Inside” has to go down as a brutal disappointment for Fox. Latter skein was reconceived no fewer than three times over the course of a year and was given a huge promo push by the net more than a month before its premiere. The result: Last week, “The Inside” averaged a 1.6/5 in adults 18-49, drawing fewer viewers than an NBC repeat of Court TV’s “Psychic Detectives” and falling 20% from its premiere.

“The Inside” also ranked behind the season finale of sister net FX’s “The Shield,” which averaged a 1.9 rating in adults 18-49. Latter skein had a stellar fourth season, with the addition of Glenn Close helping the cop drama improve 16% over its season three demo average.

The exception to the trend: Fox’s “Family Guy” and “American Dad.” Original segs of both skeins still ranked in the top 10 in key demos, with the latter skein scoring its best share of the summer.

As for weekly winner ABC, Alphabet’s victory was paced by “Dancing” and three NBA Finals games. While the San Antonio Spurs-Detroit Pistons series is still down from last year’s championship, Sunday’s overtime thriller ranked as the week’s top show in demos.

Airing a repeat of “Dancing” Wednesday at 8 p.m. also proved a smart move, giving the Alphabet a win in the timeslot and ensuring tune-in for the original seg at 9 p.m.

Over at CBS, crime continues to pay in the summer, with repeats of all three installments of the “CSI” franchise, as well as “Without a Trace,” ranking in the top 20 demo-wise. A Tuesday edition of “48 Hours” is equaling or bettering what “Judging Amy” averaged in the timeslot with original episodes during the regular season.

Fox’s summer looks a lot better than last year, thanks to “Hell’s Kitchen” and the Sunday animated skeins, as well as repeatable young franchises such as “House” and “Nanny 911.” Latter two skeins both finished in the top 25 among adults 18-49.

NBC had nothing to be excited about, but the “Law & Order” brand continues to help the Peacock survive the long, hot days of summer. Original flavor “L&O,” along with the “SVU” and “Criminal Intent” spinoffs, made up three of NBC’s four highest-rated scripted skeins for the week (“Medium” was the fourth).

On the weblet front, UPN again edged out the WB in adults 18-34 and adults 18-49.

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