Unscripted hits keep Fox hot

Network continues to scorch competition

Fox’s end-of-season momentum has carried over into the start of summer, thanks to some hot unscripted programs.

Its new Mark Burnett-Steven Spielberg skein “On the Lot” hasn’t done much business — and has since been scaled back to one night — but “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader” are looking good. They teamed with the season finale of “House” to help Fox extend its winning streak among adults 18-49 to a net-record 17 weeks.

And Fox stretched its nightly winning streak to a record seven on Monday of the current week thanks to the return of “Hell’s Kitchen.”

Overall for the May 28-June 3 frame — the first week of the unofficial 14-week summer season — Fox’s 2.6 rating/8 share in adults 18-49 easily bested its rivals. CBS ran second (2.0/6), followed by ABC (1.8/6) and NBC (1.6/5).

The net also edged out CBS for the lead among adults 25-54 (2.7/8 to 2.6/7) and won easily among people 12-34 (2.4/8). The Eye had it in total viewers, thanks mostly to repeats of its core series.

Fox’s “House” (6.7 rating/18 share in adults 18-49, 17.23 million viewers overall) was easily the week’s No. 1 program, as its season finale overpowered the reality shows and mostly repeats of scripted series.

“On the Lot” struggled in its first Monday airing last week (1.3/4 in 18-49, 2.87m), but then did a bit better with its first results show on Tuesday (1.8/6, 4.06m), prompting the net to scale the show back to a single-format, airing Tuesdays from 8 to 9.

Fox is also doing a jig about returning unscripted series “So You Think You Can Dance,” with editions on Wednesday (4.1/12 in 18-49, 9.33m) and Thursday (4.3/12, 10.58m) both placing among the week’s top 5 in adults 18-49 and younger demos.

And “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader” (3.2/11, 8.93m) led its Thursday hour, as one Burnett series bested another, CBS’ premiere of “Pirate Master” (2.3/8 in 18-49, 6.99m).

On Monday of this week, Fox welcomed back “Hell’s Kitchen” (3.7/10, 8.16m), which was on par or up vs. its year-ago preem in the 9 o’clock hour in all key categories. It led its hour in all under-50 demos.

At CBS, repeats of crime dramas “CSI” (3.2/9 in 18-49, 12.09m) and its spinoffs “CSI: NY” (3.0/8, 10.10m) and “CSI: Miami” 2.9/8, 9.40m) led the way, while other repeats including “Two and a Half Men” on Monday (3.5/9, 10.75m) and “NCIS” on Tuesday (2.3/7, 9.97m) led their slots.

On Monday of this week, claymation comedy “Creature Comforts” was modest in its bow at 8 (1.8/6, 6.18m), delivering the same score as a repeat “How I Met Your Mother” in the slot a week earlier.

Best news for ABC came Wednesday from new unscripted series “The Next Big Thing” (2.5/8 in 18-49, 7.75m), which ran second in the 8 o’clock hour with the net’s best results there since January. Net also did OK at 10 that night with “Traveler” (2.1/6 in 18-49, 6.28m), which was bowing on its regular night after a preview seg aired May 10.

Friday’s “Bingo Night” dipped a bit in its third try (1.6/5, 5.06m), and while it’s not doing horribly by that night’s standards, there doesn’t seem to be too much clamoring for the show. Also ho-hum was the net’s unscripted “Ex-Wives Club” on Monday (2.0/5, 5.31m), although it rose slightly in its second sesh, kicking off this week.

NBC was highlighted by a repeat of “Law & Order: SVU” on Tuesday (2.7/7, 8.47m) and Monday’s telecast of the “Miss Universe Pageant” (2.5/7, 7.23m), though the latter fell to its lowest scores in at least 20 years.

It was a slow start to hockey’s Stanley Cup Finals on NBC. Saturday’s Game 3 settled for a 0.6/2 in 18-49 and 1.63 million viewers overall, although Game 4 on Monday of this week did a bit better (1.1/4 in 18-49, 2.80m). Earlier in the week on cable’s Versus, the first two games in the series averaged just 673,000 viewers.

Cable programs accounted for three of the week’s top 20 primetime programs among adults 18-49, led by the penultimate episode of HBO’s “The Sopranos” on Sunday (3.5/9 in 18-49, 8.02m) and Saturday’s NBA playoff game between Cleveland and Detroit on USA (3.1/10, 7.41m).

TNT edged out USA for the week’s lead among basic cablers, with the latter repped in the week’s top 20 with the premiere of limited-run series “The Starter Wife” (2.2/6, 5.39m), which finished 21st for the week in 18-49 with the net’s best demo delivery for the launch of an original series in three years (Daily Variety, June 4).

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