Viewers flock to sports, reality shows

'Hell's Kitchen' was week's No. 1 show

Auds went for nonscripted fare in primetime last week as reality shows and sports dominated the frame.

The top eight spots in the adults 18-49 program rankings for the week ended Sunday went to competition-themed programming, led by Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen” but also including NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” and the final two games of the NBA Finals on ABC.

Some repeats still performed well for the broadcasters, especially at CBS, which won’t get its summer reality boost until “Big Brother” returns for its eighth season in a couple of weeks.

On cable, Lifetime’s “Army Wives” hit series highs in its third week, while USA limited series “The Starter Wife” held steady and continues to look pretty good. Also, Comedy Central’s “Lil’ Bush” opened well, and History Channel set some net records with the preem of “Ice Road Truckers” (Daily Variety, June 19).

Overall, according to same-day national viewing estimates by Nielsen Media Research, Fox won in adults 18-49 for a network-record 19th consecutive week — the longest stretch for any web since NBC in 1998. Net averaged a 2.2 rating/8 share to edge past NBC (2.1/7), with CBS (1.9/6) and ABC (1.9/6) not far behind.

Univision was a clear No. 5 (1.5/5), followed by USA (1.0/4), TBS (0.9/3). and the CW and TNT (both 0.7/2).

Fox also finished in a three-way tie with CBS and NBC for the week’s adults 25-54 lead (2.4/7) while winning as usual in those 12-34 (2.0/8). CBS led in total viewers (7.3 million).

Leading the way for Fox was “Hell’s Kitchen” (4.3/12 in 18-49, 8.85m), the week’s No. 1 show in 18-49 and younger demos.

“So You Think You Can Dance” also is a big part of Fox’s summer success, accounting for 20% of the net’s sked with a two-hour seg on Wednesday (3.6/12 in 18-49, 8.94m) and the hourlong Thursday results show (4.0/12, 10.63m).

Not working is firstrun comedy “The Loop” on Sunday, with its 8:30 seg (1.3/4, 2.65m) well below the repeat segs of “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” surrounding it.

NBC was represented in the top 10 by Tuesday’s two-hour “America’s Got Talent” (3.9/12 in 18-49, 11.82m) — the week’s most-watched program overall — and by the two-hour season kickoff for “Last Comic Standing” on Wednesday (2.9/8, 6.94m).

Net also benefited from the conclusion of the most-watched U.S. Open golf tourney in five years. Sunday’s action extended until about 7:45 p.m. in much of the country, with the primetime portion notching a dominant 3.5/15 in adults 18-49.

On Monday of this week, NBC scored with Matt Lauer’s interview of Princes Harry and William on a special “Dateline” (4.1/12 in 18-49, 12.21m) but didn’t do much in the preceding hour with the series preem of dating show “Age of Love” (2.5/7, 6.93m).

CBS is struggling with both of its firstrun summer shows: Monday comedy “Creature Comforts” (1.4/5 in 18-49, 4.53m) and Thursday reality series “Pirate Master” (1.5/5 in 18-49, 5.39m). Luckily, repeats of shows like “CSI: Miami” (2.8/8 in 18-49, 9.28m) and “Two and a Half Men” (2.7/8, 9.38m) continue to fare well.

And on Friday, a repeat of the same-day’s final Bob Barker-hosted episode of “The Price Is Right” easily won its timeslot (2.1/9, 8.42m), leading into “The 34th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards” (2.0/7, 8.33m), which was up by double digits year-to-year.

ABC claimed two of the week’s top five spots in 18-49 with the final two games of the short-lived San Antonio-Cleveland NBA Finals, which go down in the record books as the lowest-rated of pro basketball’s championship series since they moved to primetime 20 years ago. Top-rated of the games was Thursday’s clincher for the Spurs (4.0/13 in 18-49, 9.91m).

Net’s Wednesday firstrun lineup of “The Next Best Thing” (2.1/7, 6.19m), “American Inventor” (2.2/6, 6.29m) and “Traveler” (1.3/4, 4.07m) was on the decline, as were Monday’s “Ex-Wives Club” (1.5/4, 4.11m) and Friday’s “National Bingo Night” (1.1/4, 3.51m).

At the CW, “Hidden Palms” remains at low levels (0.5/2 in 18-49, 1.37m) but was up week to week in demos.

USA was led by Monday’s 10 o’clock seg of “WWE Raw” — the week’s top cable show (2.4/7 in 18-49, 6.33m) — and Thursday’s “The Starter Wife” (1.5/4 in 18-49, 3.55m). Sunday vets “The 4400” (1.0/3, 2.51m) and “The Dead Zone” (0.7/2, 2.13m) were on the low end, though, in their season bows.

It was good news for Lifetime and its highest-rated original series to date, “Army Wives.” Sunday skein hit highs in its third episode (1.4/4 in 18-49, 3.84m), standing as the night’s top cable draw in women 18-49, women 25-54 and total viewers.

At TBS “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” lost a sizable chunk of its week-earlier aud but still rose to a good 1.5/4 in 18-49 and 3.48 million viewers overall for its second of back-to-back segs. Comedy-oriented net also got a lift from a weekend triple play of “Hitch,” with the best numbers coming on Sunday (1.5/5 in 18-49, 3.54m).

And Comedy Central successfully launched toon laffer “Lil’ Bush” on Wednesday (0.9/3, 2.14m), coming in as the second best premiere on the net in the last three years. Its men 18-34 score (1.6/6) trailed only NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” in the 10:30 p.m. slot.

And at HBO, Sunday’s “John From Cincinnati” drew just 1.21 million viewers, down from 3.42 million when it preemed behind “The Sopranos” finale a week earlier.

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