NBC stings with 'Singing Bee'

Its baseball All-Star Game was stung by NBC’s “Singing Bee,” but Fox prevailed among young adults in the primetime ratings race for a 23rd straight week.

While “Singing Bee” got off to a very good start for the Peacock, Fox had no problem rising to the top behind baseball and its unscripted hits like “Hell’s Kitchen” and “So You Think You Can Dance.”

And although overshadowed by NBC’s similar skein, Fox’s own karaoke contest, “Don’t Forget the Lyrics,” bowed to solid numbers as well.

Overall, according to same-day Nielsen estimates, Fox’s 2.4 rating/8 share in adults 18-49 towered over second place NBC (1.9/6), followed by CBS (1.7/6) and ABC and Univision (both 1.5/5). Cablers USA (0.9/3) and TNT (0.8/3) both edged out CW (0.7/2), which is having a forgettable first summer.

Fox also led in adults 25-54 and persons 12-34 (2.0/8) and notched a rare victory in total viewers (6.7 million) — the first time this summer that CBS hasn’t drawn the largest overall aud.

Week’s standout performer was the half-hour Tuesday preem of NBC’s “The Singing Bee” at 9:30 (5.1/14 in 18-49, 13.31 million viewers overall), which built on its strong lead-in from “America’s Got Talent” (3.9/12, 11.38m).

“Bee” became the top-rated new summer series launch on any network in adults 18-49 since NBC’s “Meet My Folks” in July 2002, and it’s the best reality bow for NBC, summer or regular season, since “The Apprentice” in January 2004. In total viewers, “Bee” is the top new unscripted summer premiere since ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” in 2005.

NBC execs were so happy with the early returns for “Singing Bee” that it added a 30-minute edition of the series to its Tuesday sked in the fall (Daily Va-riety, July 17).

Elsewhere, Fox’s “Major League Baseball All-Star Game” (4.1/12 in 18-49, 12.53m) was down 11% year to year in 18-49 but still ranked as the frame’s No. 2 program in most key categories and No. 1 in men 18-49 (5.7/18) and other male demos.

Net did pretty well Wednesday with the series preem of “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” (3.4/10 in 18-49, 8.28m), which built on its lead-in from a 90-minute “So You Think You Can Dance” (3.1/10, 7.74m) and then won its timeslot again the next night with another half-hour seg (2.9/10, 8.43m).

“Hell’s Kitchen” also won its time period in key demos for Fox on Monday (3.6/10, 7.51m), more than tripling its woeful lead-in from a special “On the Lot” (1.1/3, 2.52m).

NBC, aside from “Singing Bee:” and “America’s Got Talent,” was led by repeats of “Law & Order: SVU,” which won its 10 o’clock timeslot in demos on both Tuesday (2.9/8, 8.50m) and Sunday (1.9/6, 6.22m).

CBS was solid but unspectacular with “Big Brother 8,” with the summer vet seeing a nice spike on Sunday to win its time period in demos (2.4/8, 6.31m). But the net didn’t have much luck drawing viewers to the recently resuscitated “Jericho,” as Friday’s repeat mustered a mere 0.7/3 in 18-49.

Of note at ABC was the news division’s “Primetime: Family Secrets” on Tuesday (2.4/7 in 18-49, 7.20m) and “20/20” on Friday (1.8/6, 5.60m); both grew sharply from their lead-ins. Top entertainment performer was Wednesday’s “The Next Best Thing” (2.1/7 in 18-49, 7.04m).

On the cable side, USA set the pace in primetime with a No. 1 finish in adults 18-49, 25-54 and 18-34. In addition to Monday’s “WWE Raw,” it was boosted by the season preems of Friday dramas “Psych” (1.4/5, 4.33m) and “Monk” (1.2/4, 4.82m).

ESPN moved up to No. 2 or 3 for the frame in key demo categories behind Monday’s “Home Run Derby” (2.6/8 in 18-49, 6.78m) and Sunday’s “ESPY Awards” (1.3/4, 2.78m).

TNT’s “The Closer,” meanwhile, remained hot and was the biggest draw on basic cable for the week in total viewers (7.41m) and the No. 1 scripted cable pro-gram in both 18-49 (1.8/5) and 25-54 (2.6/6).

Disney Channel was No. 1 for the frame in total viewers in primetime. It was the most-watched net on television Friday from 8 to 9:30 p.m. (5.1 million view-ers) with new episodes of its live-action series “Hannah Montana,” “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody” and “Cory in the House”; and for all of primetime Friday, its average of 4.5 million viewers lagged only NBC’s 5 million.

Other highlights included A&E’s series “The First” setting a season-preem record with the show’s sixth-season opener on Thursday (2.2 million viewers); Discovery Channel drawing 3.3 million viewers Sunday and tying as No. 1 for the night in basic cable in adults 25-54 (1.3/3) with its spec “Secrets of Egypt’s Lost Queen”; and Food Network’s “The Next Food Network Star 3” setting a net record for total viewers (2.8 million) and tying as Sunday’s top cable draw in 25-54 (1.3/3).

Outside of primetime, SoapNet on Thursday drew a network-record 1 million viewers for the premiere of its original sudser “General Hospital: Night Shift.” Its women 18-49 aud (498,000) was good enough for a second-place finish among basic cablers in the 11 o’clock hour.

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