'Kitchen,' 'Bee' on top

CBS saw summer highs for “Big Brother” and ABC got off to a promising start with hidden-camera entry “Just for Laughs,” but it was Fox and NBC delivering the best numbers for their firstrun fare last week.

Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen” and NBC’s week two of “The Singing Bee” were the top programs among young adults in a frame that also saw the Murdoch net score with “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Don’t Forget the Lyrics,” while the Peacock was solid with “America’s Got Talent” and newsmag “Dateline.”

It was the end of the line, though, for CBS’ “Pirate Master,” which was pulled after another weak Tuesday outing. And ABC said goodbye to drama “Traveler” and hello to unscripted series “Set for Life,” with both shows putting up similarly lackluster numbers.

Overall for the week of July 17-23, Fox’s 2.2 rating/7 share in adults 18-49 edged out NBC’s 2.0/7, giving the Murdoch net its 24th consecutive weekly triumph in the demo — the longest streak for any net in nine years. CBS ran third (1.7/6), followed by ABC (1.5/5) and Univision (1.4/5). ABC and Univision were the only nets up vs. a year ago.

Fox also prevailed in adults 25-54 (2.3/7) and persons 12-34 (1.9/7), while CBS was back on top in total viewers (6.2 million).

On the cable side, USA was the leader in key demos, while Disney Channel finished on top in total viewers for a second straight week.

For demo leader Fox, the sesh was highlighted by “Hell’s Kitchen” (4.1/12 in 18-49, 8.25 million viewers overall), which continues to perform about 10% higher than last summer.

Other demo winners for Fox included “So You Think You Can Dance” on Wednesday (3.3/11 in 18-49, 8.14m) and Thursday (3.4/10, 9.07m) as well as half-hour segs of “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” — also on both Wednesday (2.9/8, 7.38m) and Thursday (2.9/10, 8.36m).

At NBC, “Singing Bee” (3.7/11 in 18-49, 11.03m) declined 27% from its strong week-earlier preem, but still built on its lead-in from “America’s Got Talent” (3.2/10, 10.38m) and was the week’s No. 2 program in 18-49.

The Peacock was also solid Wednesday with “Last Comic Standing” (2.6/8 in 18-49, 6.39m) and “Dateline” (3.1/9, 7.17m), which featured the newsmag’s popular “To Catch a Predator” feature. And though it didn’t do gangbuster numbers, Monday spec “Victoria Beckham: Coming to America” won its timeslot (2.2/7 in 18-49, 5.05m).

CBS was paced by the best scores to date for “Big Brother 8″ on Tuesday (2.9/8 in 18-49, 7.02m) and a winning perf for the summer vet on Thursday (2.7/9, 6.98m); after a sluggish start, the eighth edition is about on par with last summer’s all-star season.

The net’s best scripted repeat numbers came Monday from “Two and a Half Men” (2.5/7, 8.13m) and “CSI: Miami” (2.5/7, 8.08m).

At ABC, “Just for Laughs” opened with a solid 3.0/10 in 18-49 and 8.64 million viewers overall in its regular Tuesday 8:30 slot, and seemed to take a bite out of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” which narrowly won the time period but was below average.

Not faring as well for the Alphabet were the finales of drama “Traveler” on Wednesday (1.4/4 in 18-49, 3.86m) and the premiere of the unscripted “Set for Life” on Friday (1.1/5, 4.12m).

Univision, which tied NBC for No. 2 for the week among adults 18-34 (1.6/6), got a lift from Thursday’s “Premios Juventud” (Youth Awards), which averaged a 2.1/7 in 18-49 and 4.9 million viewers overall; for the night, Univision was television’s most-watched network among viewers under 35.

In basic cable, USA led primetime in adults 18-49 (0.8/3) and adults 25-54 (0.9/3) but Disney Channel won rather easily in total viewers (3.55 million), thanks to series “The Suite Life of Zach and Cody” and “Hannah Montana,” as well as a sizable 5.79 million for the 16th telecast of “High School Musical” on Sunday.

TNT’s “The Closer” was cable’s top program of the week in 18-49 (1.6/5), 25-54 (2.3/6) and total viewers (6.85 million), while USA’s “Monk” was runner-up in both adults 25-54 (1.8/6) and total viewers (4.88m).

Looking at the younger 18-34 demo, the top scripted firstrun cable programs of the frame were USA’s “Psych” (773,000), TBS’ “The Bill Engvall Show” (757,000) and Lifetime’s “Army Wives” (719,000).

“Engvall” (1.5/4 in 18-49, 3.85m) had a strong bow on Tuesday, doubling its lead-in from “Everybody Loves Raymond” (0.7/2, 1.93m). Preem joins “House of Payne” to give TBS ad-supported cable’s top five original sitcom telecasts of all time, with “Engvall” ranking third among total viewers and adults 25-54 (2.12 million) and fourth among adults 18-49 (1.92 million).

The hottest reality entry on cable was Food Network’s “Next Food Network Star 3″ on Sunday (1.3/4 in 18-49, 3.57m).

And in sports, David Beckham’s Major League Soccer debut with the Los Angeles Galaxy averaged 1.47 million viewers for ESPN on Saturday night — the biggest aud ever for an MLS contest on the cabler. Beckham, hampered by an injury, didn’t enter the game until late in the second half.

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