Finales, 'Jersey Shore' score in the ratings

Broadcast reality shows still draw bigger ratings, but the cream of cable’s crop are cleaning up in primetime as summer winds down.

And in pay cable, Showtime’s “The Big C” opened to a solid 1.15 million viewers on Monday, making it the most-watched premiere of an original show on the pay cabler in eight years.

Last week saw 13 cable programs draw better than a 1.5 rating among adults 18-49, compared with 25 for broadcast television. While there’s still a gap, this is one of the best showings for the cable biz relative to its broadcast rivals.

Among unscripted skeins, MTV’s “Jersey Shore” remains scorching hot and hit another series high, while the finales of E!’s “Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami” and Food Network’s “Next Food Network Star” scored big as well.

Also, Comedy Central’s roast of David Hasselhoff laffed up good numbers. And on the scripted side, rookie dramas “Rizzoli and Isles” on TNT and “Covert Affairs” on USA continue to impress by building on their established lead-ins.

Trending downward are AMC’s Sunday combo of “Mad Men” and “Rubicon,” which have now seen their aud decline each week since their premieres.

Thanks mostly to the finale of “Hell’s Kitchen” — the week’s No. 1 program among young adults — Fox led the week overall in adults 18-49, according to Nielsen, with a 1.8 rating/6 share, followed by CBS and NBC (both at 1.4/4) and ABC (1.3/4). CBS ruled as usual in total viewers (6.1 million).

(Note that the averages for CBS are preliminary and were expected to rise when Nielsen includes the network’s early-evening golf overrun on Sunday, which was not included in data released Tuesday.)

Looking at the week in cable, “Jersey Shore” hit new highs on Thursday (2.7/8 in 18-49, 5.51 million viewers overall), ranking fifth among all primetime ad-supported telecasts for the week and finishing No. 1 in both women 18-34 (4.5/16) and females 12-34 (5.0/18). The net is also doing well with Tuesday’s “Teen Mom” (1.8/6, 3.24m, 3.24m), which pulled a 4.2/13 in women 18-34.

Sunday saw the conclusions of “Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami” on E! (1.8/6, 3.66m) and “Next Food Network Star” on Food Network (1.8/6, 4.59m), with the former hitting a series high in total viewers and standing as the night’s top cable show in adults 18-34, women 18-34 and women 18-49.

This is impressive since the night also included HBO’s “True Blood” (2.8/7 in 18-49, 5.00m) and Comedy Central’s “Roast of David Hasselhoff” (1.9/6, 3.51m); the roast was up sharply vs. last year’s given to Joan Rivers and was Sunday’s No. 1 program on television in men 18-34 (3.1/13).

Other unscripted cable shows to top a 1.5 rating in 18-49 for the week were USA’s “WWE Raw” (1.8/6, 4.84m), Bravo’s “Real Housewives of New Jersey” (1.7/5, 3.08m), History’s “American Pickers” (1.6/5, 4.70m) and ESPN’s preseason NFL opener between Carolina and Baltimore on Thursday (1.6/6, 3.73m).

Among scripted shows, TNT’s combo of vet “The Closer” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 7.22m) and newcomer “Rizzoli and Isles” (1.6/5, 7.42m) are working great together, with the latter standing as the week’s No. 1 cable show in both adults 25-54 (2.1/6) and total viewers.

And at USA, first-year Tuesday drama “Covert Affairs” (1.6/5 in 18-49, 5.17m) has definitely found a loyal audience, again growing nicely on its lead-in from “White Collar” (1.1/3, 4.00m). And Thursday’s “Royal Pains” (1.6/5, 5.39m) and “Burn Notice” (1.5/5, 5.57m) consistently top or challenge their broadcast competish in key demos.

Another scripted highlight last week was ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars” (1.1/4, 3.07m), which racked up a 3.8/14 in females 12-34 in Tuesday’s leadoff hour.

As for the AMC series, “Mad Men” slipped to 2.05 million (it kicked off its season July 25 with 2.92 million), and “Rubicon” edged downward to 1.18 million after bowing to 2 million viewers with its official premiere on Aug. 1. Both are likely picking up lots of viewers in DVR playback, but they’ve lost a chunk of aud on Sunday.

On the broadcast side, Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen” (3.3/11 in 18-49, 7.24m) capped its season as the No. 1 program in 18-49 and other demo categories; the show doesn’t get much of a break, though, as it preps for its fall season in five weeks.

The finale of the net’s “So You Think You Can Dance” finished among the week’s top 20 programs (2.2/7, 6.13m) but was down roughly 30% from its conclusion last summer. And Monday’s “Teen Choice Awards” (1.5/5, 4.06m) was up vs. last year in all key categories.

At NBC, “America’s Got Talent” (2.9/9 in 18-49, 10.48m on Tuesday and 2.8/8, 10.67m) finished behind only Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen” for the week in 18-49 while ruling as the most-watched program overall. Peacock’s “Minute to Win It” also continues to quietly perform fairly well on Wednesday (1.9/7, 6.48m), placing in the week’s top 20.

CBS drew consistently solid numbers for “Big Brother,” which drew a 2.4 rating in 18-49 on all three nights it airs. Potent repeat performers included Monday laffers “The Big Bang Theory” (2.8/8, 8.49m) and “Two and a Half Men” (2.5/7, 8.69m) and quietly winning Saturday newsmag “48 Hours Mystery” (1.4/5, 6.10m).

ABC relied on Tuesday’s “Wipeout” (2.6/9 in 18-49, 7.95m) and solid other firstrun fare including Monday’s preeming reality shows “Bachelor Pad” (2.2/7, 6.37m) and “Dating in the Dark” (1.8/5, 4.44m) and Thursday drama “Rookie Blue” (1.6/5, 5.97m).

‘Big’ bow

On Monday of this week, “The Big C,” starring Laura Linney as a woman with stage-four melanoma, drew 1.15 million viewers for its premiere and then an additional 429,000 for its 11:30 p.m. replay.

Capitalizing on “The Big C” publicity, “Weeds” had its biggest night to date. With 1.3 million tuning in to the 10 o’clock telecast and 629,000 an hour later, the Mary-Louise Parker starrer landed just under 2 million viewers.

Showtime launched “The Big C” pilot online two weeks ago and had attracted 400,000 viewers via the net’s on-demand platform. In addition, the pilot was available Saturday night on DirecTV’s 101 Network as a way to get a sampling before the official Sunday debut.

Created by Darlene Hunt, Sony Pictures TV’s “Big C” co-stars Oliver Platt, Gabourey Sidibe, John Benjamin Hickey and Phyllis Somerville. In addition to Hunt and Linney, other exec producers are Jenny Bicks, Neal H. Moritz and Vivian Cannon.

In another premiere Monday, TruTV’s “Hardcore Pawn” fared well with 2 million total viewers and 1 million in the 18-49 demo — best numbers to date for a debut on the net.

“Hardcore Pawn” is produced RDF USA. Natalka Znak, Claire O’Donohoe, Richard Dominick and Anthony Horn are exec producers.

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