In reality-heavy week, CBS' 'Brother' also delivers

Unscripted programming continues to dominate the young-adult rankings in unprecedented fashion this summer, but it’s an old reliable that is at the front of the pack.

Now in its sixth season, NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” is performing at a record pace, with Tuesday’s performance edition easily establishing itself as last week’s No. 1 program (3.6 rating/10 share in adults 18-49 and 13.04 million viewers overall), according to Nielsen.

This season, “Talent” likely benefited from being paired alongside hot NBC newcomer “The Voice” for the first month of summer, but has continued to impress since “Voice” wrapped in late June. For the summer to date, the rating for the Tuesday performance edition of “Talent” is up vs. last year in key categories by between 15% and 20%.

“Talent” and CBS’ thrice-weekly “Big Brother” are the gainers among summer’s reality regulars, while ABC has seen declines for “The Bachelorette” (which had an especially strong 2010) and “Wipeout.” Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” remains steady but unspectacular, on par with last year but down sharply from its 2009 levels, while it’s too early to judge the net’s “Hell’s Kitchen,” which bowed last week.

The top 18 ad-supported primetime programs of last week in adults 18-49 were unscripted, including four on cable (three on History and one on A&E). It’s quite a different story in total viewers, though, where six CBS crime drama repeats and a pair of TNT crime drama originals were among the top 20.

Overall for the July 18-24 frame, Fox edged its way to victory in adults 18-49 (1.5/5), followed by CBS and Univision (both 1.4/4), NBC (1.3/4) and top cabler USA (0.9/3).

In total viewers, CBS set the pace (6.3 million) while USA grew to 3.4 million, ahead of Univision (3.3 million) and to within shouting distance of Fox (4 million). The cabler aired a whopping eight series — including six firstrun dramas — that topped 4 million viewers.

For Fox, “Hell’s Kitchen” returned lower than last season, but won its slots on Monday (2.5/8, 5.84m) and Tuesday (2.5/8, 5.83m), boosting the segs of “MasterChef” that followed it Also, Wednesday’s “So You Think You Can Dance” cracked the top 15 (2.0/6, 5.58m).

Leading the way for CBS was the consistent “Big Brother,” which won all three of its time-slots and was up week-to-week and year-to-year. In 18-49, its editions claimed the week’s top three spots after NBC’s “Talent.”

But a “Brother” lead-in couldn’t lift the Eye’s new Sunday unscripted series “Same Name,” which had a modest opening (1.5/4, 5.36m).

Aside from “America’s Got Talent” on Tuesday (3.6/10 in 18-49, 13.04m) and Wednesday (2.7/8, 10.32m), NBC’s only other rep in the top 25 among 18-49 was Tuesday’s preem of hidden-treasure reality series “It’s Worth What?” (1.9/6, 6.73m).

ABC was paced by its winning Monday tandem of “The Bachelorette” (2.3/7, 8.00m) and “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition” (2.0/6, 5.83m). Also, Thursday’s “Wipeout” led its hour (1.9/7, 6.54m), but the shows airing after it — rookie “Expedition Impossible” (1.3/4, 4.68m) and soph “Rookie Blue” (1.3/4, 5.39m) — slipped to summer lows.

In cable, USA’s first-year drama “Suits” (1.5/4 in 18-49, 4.38m) posted highs in some categories and best-since-premiere in others, beating ABC’s competing “Rookie Blue” in 18-49 on Thursday.

TNT was led by “Rizzoli & Isles” (1.2/3, 6.39m) and “The Closer” (1.1/3, 6.47m), with the former building on the latter in all demos.

Lifetime’s “Roseanne’s Nuts” drew 1.04 million viewers in its second week on Wednesday, down sharply from its premiere (1.64m), but on the upswing that night was TV Land’s “Hot in Cleveland” (season-high 2.44 million).

At HBO, “True Blood” remained strong (5.3 million), while comedy “Curb Your Enthusiasm” hit a season high (2.4 million), and the final-season premiere of “Entourage” (2.5 million) was on par with last year’s opener.

Also: History’s “Swamp People” set series records for its second-season finale Thursday (2.2/7 in 18-49, 5.52m); A&E’s “Storage Wars” became the net’s No. 1 series telecast on record with 5.09 million viewers Wednesday for its second-season preem; VH1’s “Basketball Wives” and “Singles Ladies” both drew record auds Monday (about 2 million viewers each) for their season preems; and Bravo’s “Real Housewives of New Jersey” hit a season high Sunday (2.92m).

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