'True Blood,' 'Jersey Shore' are cable standouts

The start of the NFL preseason on NBC and the finish of ABC’s “The Bachelorette” highlighted the ratings action in primetime last week — another big frame for unscripted fare.

Only three of the week’s top 15 primetime programs among adults 18-49 were scripted, led by HBO’s “True Blood,” which settled for fifth place one week after topping a frame for the first time. Also sneaking in were repeats of CBS comedies “The Big Bang Theory” and “Two and a Half Men,” according to Nielsen estimates.

The week’s top program in 18-49 was Sunday’s pro football Hall of Fame Game between the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals (4.2 rating/12 share), which also drew the event’s largest overall audience in 11 years (11.44 million). The Cowboys have traditionally been the league’s biggest draw, and auds also were intrigued to see them take on controversial former teammate Terrell Owens in his debut with the Bengals.

Game helped NBC score a rare victory in primetime among adults 18-49 (1.8/6). It was followed by Fox (1.7/6), ABC (1.6/5), CBS and Univision (both 1.4/5) and top cabler USA (1.0/3).

The Peacock also prevailed in adults 25-54 (2.1/6), while CBS remained on top in total viewers (6.1 million).

ABC claimed the week’s top entertainment telecasts with the finale of “The Bachelorette” (3.8/11 in 18-49, 11.73m) and the “After the Final Rose” special that followed it and drew pretty much the same audience (3.8/11, 11.32m). The series finished with its most-watched season since 2004.

Also of note for the net, “Wipeout” remained potent leading off Tuesday (2.9/10, 8.91m) and provided a nice lead-in for the second-season preem of “Shaq Vs.” (1.8/5, 5.24m), which hit series highs in its tough timeslot. And on Thursday, original drama “Rookie Blue” (1.8/6, 6.87m) won its hour in key categories.

At Fox, “Hell’s Kitchen” (3.2/11, 7.15m) picked up steam to rank fourth for the week, and its Tuesday lead-out “Masterchef” (2.6/8, 5.83m) retained nearly all of its week-earlier premiere aud.

Monday’s “Lie to Me” (1.9/6, 5.64m) is also doing fairly well leading off the night, but “The Good Guys” (despite a slight uptick) continues to perform modestly (1.1/3, 3.59m).

Aside from the Monday comedies, CBS was led by “Big Brother,” with all three editions ranking in the top 15 among adults 18-49; Sunday’s seg rated highest (2.5/8, 7.56m).

And setting the pace among entertainment series for NBC were “America’s Got Talent” segs on Tuesday (2.9/8, 10.37m) and Wednesday (2.8/8, 10.06m) and Wednesday gameshow “Minute to Win It” (2.1/7, 6.97m).

Also of note, broadcast syndication service MyNetwork this week reported a strong July, with viewership up 33% in adults 18-49 and 43% in total viewers. Averaging slightly more than 2 million viewers for the month, it doubled the delivery of CW while also outdrawing cable networks including ABC Family, Bravo, CNN and ESPN.

Top shows for MyNet during the month were “WWE Smackdown” (2.9 million), “The Unit” (1.9 million) and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (1.7 million)

This fall, original episodes of gameshow “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” and repeats of USA’s “Burn Notice” will join the lineup.

In cable last week, HBO’s hot “True Blood” (3.0/8 in 18-49, 5.09m) held steady, while MTV’s “Jersey Shore” dropped off from its huge second-season preem (2.5/8, 5.03m) but ranked 11th for the week in 18-49 and a dominant first in persons 12-34 (4.3/12).

Among scripted originals on ad-supported cable, USA’s “Covert Affairs” (1.7/5, 5.33m) and “Royal Pains” (1.7/5, 5.53m) were tops among adults 18-49, with both hitting summer highs.

ABC Family’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” (1.1/4, 2.71m) was tops among persons 12-34 (2.1/7). TNT’s “The Closer” (1.5/4, 6.94m) and “Rizzoli and Isles” (1.4/4, 6.61m) ranked among basic cable’s top five scripted originals in adults 25-54 while drawing the most viewers overall for any cable program last week.

Elsewhere, Oxygen’s reality series “Bad Girls Club: Miami” on Tuesday became the network’s highest-rated premiere to date (0.7/2, 1.39m), standing as cable’s top show among women 18-34 during the 9 o’clock hour (1.4/4). And on Wednesday, MTV’s “Real World: New Orleans” hit season highs (1.2/4 in 18-49, 2.04m) and was that night’s top cable draw among women 18-34 (2.3/7).

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