NBC edges Fox out with 'Talent'

One week after Fox’s summer reality hits wrapped their seasons, it was time for NBC and CBS to have their time in the sun.

Led by “America’s Got Talent,” NBC claimed the week’s top three programs in adults 18-49 to claim victory in the demo for the frame — handing Fox its first setback since the first week of January.

CBS, with all three nights of “Big Brother” still going strong, moved up to a close second in 18-49 and won in adults 25-54 and total viewers, pushing Fox down to third place. ABC was close behind Fox and remains the laggard among the broadcast nets for summer.

Week also saw a record-setting first-season finale for Lifetime’s “Army Wives” along with more good numbers for scripted skeins like TNT’s “The Closer” and TBS’ “House of Payne ,” as well as unscripted MTV faves “The Hills” and “Making the Band.”

Overall, according to Nielsen estimates for the week of Aug. 20-26, NBC’s 2.1 rating/6 share in adults 18-49 edged out CBS (2.0/6), with Fox (1.7/5) followed by ABC (1.6/5), Univision (1.3/4) and cablers USA (1.0/3) and ESPN (0.9/3).

Peacock’s “America’s Got Talent” wrapped its second season as the week’s No. 1 program in adults 18-49 (4.2/12) as well as total viewers (13.94 million). The talent show jumped 20% above its year-ago rookie-season finale in 18-49 average and set a new series record in total viewers.

NBC also got a nice boost from Sunday’s NFL preseason game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers (3.4/9 in 18-49, 9.20m), Tuesday’s hourlong “Singing Bee” (3.2/9 in 18-49, 8.88m) and Wednesday’s “Last Comic Standing” (season-high 3.0/9, 7.25m).

Not so hot was Friday’s “Miss Teen USA” (1.4/5 in 18-49, 4.32m), which logged its lowest demo delivery since at least 1991.

At CBS, “Big Brother 8″ continues to pace ahead of last season’s all-stars edition, with Thursday’s episode hitting a high (3.0/10 in 18-49, 7.75m), and Tuesday’s seg (3.1/8, 7.30m) also achieving some demo highs despite opposing NBC’s “Talent.”

Gameshow “Power of 10″ was up a bit on Wednesday (2.3/7 in 18-49, 8.70m), and was expected to get a boost last night as “Big Brother” houseguests showed up as contestants.

For Fox, a streak that began in February came to an abrupt end without shows like “Hell’s Kitchen” and “So You Think You Can Dance.” Instead, net was left with reality duds like “On the Lot” (1.1/4 in 18-49, 2.40m for its finale on Tuesday) and “Anchorwoman” (1.0/3, 2.66m), which was yanked after its poor preem perf.

Net was also below average Sunday with the “Teen Choice Awards” (1.7/5, 3.97m).

Dragging down ABC once again were firstrun series “Set for Life” on Friday (0.8/3 in 18-49, 3.67m) and “Masters of Science Fiction” on Saturday (0.6/2, 2.14m); mercifully for the net, those were their finales.

Best news for the Alphabet came Tuesday from “Just for Laughs” (2.6/8 in 18-49, 7.68m), with the show’s perf earning it an order for additional episodes (Daily Variety, Aug. 28).

On the cable side, Lifetime’s “Army Wives” wrapped its strong first season with a 1.5/4 in 18-49 and 4.08 million viewers overall — the network’s largest aud to date for an episode of an original series. It wraps as basic cable’s No. 1 drama among women 18-34 and the top freshman drama among women 18-49.

While Disney Channel drew 6.43 million viewers for a replay of “High School Musical” and was the week’s top cable net in total viewers for an eighth straight week (3.46 million), USA and ESPN set the pace in adults 18-49.

USA was led by its two hours of “WWE Raw” on Monday (2.0/6 in 18-49, 5.25m) as well as original dramas “Burn Notice” (1.4/4, 4.08m), “Psych” (1.3/4, 4.25m) and “Monk” (1.3/4, 5.03m).

ESPN claimed two of the week’s top 20 programs among adults 18-49 with Monday’s NFL preseason game (2.4/7 in 18-49, 6.23m for a Super Bowl rematch between the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears) and Saturday’s NASCAR race from Tennessee (2.3/8, 5.74m).

TNT’s “The Closer” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 7.72m) remained cable’s top drama in key demos and was easily cable’s most-watched program of the week. And sister net TBS saw numbers rise for Wednesday laffer “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” (1.6/4 in 18-49, 3.94m for the second of its two segs).

MTV scored Monday with the season finale of “The Hills” (2.1/6 in 18-49, 3.56m), which tied NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” as primetime’s No. 1 program for the week among persons 12-34 (3.2/10). Net also closed the week well with the finale of “Making the Band 4″ (1.8/5 in 18-49, 3.50m).

And on the pay cable side, HBO’s “Big Love” drew its largest aud to date for the show’s second-season finale (2.9 million).

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