Reality vet places all three episodes in week's top 10

CBS summer stalwart “Big Brother” continued its strong season last week, placing all three installments among the top 10 programs in key demos.

The voyeuristic competition show is beating the ratings odds by posting year-to-year gains with its 12th edition, and is almost singlehandedly responsible for keeping the Eye competitive among young adults with a lineup that is otherwise mostly repeats. CBS is also in its customary position of winning in total viewers, finishing on top now for nine straight seshes.

The return of football was also a big part of last week in primetime, with preseason NFL contests winning Monday on ESPN, Thursday and Friday on Fox and Sunday on NBC. And cable series had another big week, including HBO’s “True Blood,” MTV’s “Jersey Shore,” E!’s “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” and History’s “Swamp People.”

Overall for the Aug. 16-22 frame, Fox prevailed in adults 18-49 with a 1.7 rating/6 share, followed by NBC (1.6/5), ABC and Univision (1.5/5), CBS (1.4/5) and top cabler USA (1.0/3).

In total viewers, the Eye had it, with an average aud of 6.1 million to 5.7 million for runner-up NBC.

For CBS, the consistent “Big Brother” led its hour on Wednesday (2.6/9 in 18-49, 7.61m) and Thursday (2.5/9, 7.55m) and placed second to football on Sunday (2.6/8, 7.73m). The skein is tracking ahead of last summer at this time by 4% in adults 18-49 (2.6/9 vs. 2.5/8), 10% in adults 18-34 (2.2/8 vs. 2.0/7) and 6% in total viewers (7.49 million vs. 7.05 million).

Also for CBS, Monday comedies “Two and a Half Men” (2.5/7, 8.48m) and “The Big Bang Theory” (2.5/7, 8.03m) continue to perform well in repeats.

Fox was led by animated repeat laffer “Family Guy” (2.4/6, 5.17m), but also got a nice boost from NFL preseason action Thursday (2.1/7, 5.79m for New England-Atlanta) and Friday (1.9/7, 5.34m for Philadelphia-Cincinnati). And reality newcomer “MasterChef” had a solid two-hour bow on its new night, Wednesday (2.1/7, 5.03m).

NBC claimed the week’s No. 1 show, with Sunday’s NFL preseason game between the Minnesota Vikings (and the summer debut of quarterback Brett Favre) and the San Francisco 49ers (3.6/10 in 18-49, 10.82m). Together with its Aug. 8 Dallas-Cincinnati matchup (11.44 million), NBC has now aired the two most-watched preseason games on any network in six years.

The net was also repped in the week’s top 5 by Tuesday’s two-hour “America’s Got Talent” (2.9/8, 10.19m).

ABC, meanwhile, can still count on Tuesday’s “Wipeout” (3.1/10, 8.98m), the only series to post a double-digit demo share for the week. Also doing OK on the unscripted front were “Bachelor Pad” (1.9/6, 5.46m) and “Shaq Vs.” (1.9/6, 4.82m). And a NASCAR race lapped the competition on Saturday (1.7/7, 5.84m).

In cable, USA stayed comfortably on top behind such hits as “Covert Affairs” (1.8/5 in 18-49, 5.36m), “WWE Raw” (1.8/5, 4.92m), “Burn Notice” (1.5/5, 5.50m), “Royal Pains” (1.5/5, 5.27m) and “White Collar” (1.5/4, 4.48m).

Elsewhere, MTV’s “Jersey Shore” hit more highs (2.9/9 in 18-49, 5.50m), ranking No. 3 for the week in 18-49 and a clear No. 1 among persons 12-34 (4.6/18). And the net’s “Teen Mom” also continues to impress (1.9/6, 3.50m).

History’s “Swamp People” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 4.23m) opened well on Sunday, building on its lead-in from “Ice Road Truckers” (1.3/4, 3.50m) to become the highest-rated original series launch to date for the network. Add in “Pawn Stars” (2.4/6, 6.24m) and “American Pickers” (1.7/5, 5.20m) on Monday, and History moved up to second or third for the week in cable among adults 18-49 and 25-54 as well as total viewers.

A&E’s “The Glades” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 3.32m) hit season highs in key demos on Sunday; ABC Family’s premiere of “Melissa and Joey” on Tuesday set a network record for a premiere in 18-49 (1.0/3, 2.51m); TNT’s “Hawthorne” hit a season high (1.1/3, 3.80m) and the net’s “Rizzoli and Isles” (6.82 million) and “The Closer” (6.49m) topped cable for the week in total viewers; and TV Land’s “Hot in Cleveland” ended its first season on a high note, drawing its largest overall aud (3.40 million) since June.

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