Top draws include 'Shore,' 'Brother,' NFL preseason action

In these dog days of summer, reality rules.

The combination of sports and unscripted entertainment series dominated the landscape in unprecedented fashion last week, accounting for the top 20 ad-supported primetime programs among adults 18-49.

MTV’s “Jersey Shore” remains king in young adults, while the return of NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” — even in preseason mode — topped the rankings in other categories, including total viewers. And then there was CBS’ “Big Brother,” whose Sunday edition hit a four-year ratings high.

Fox, which led the early part of the week with its cooking contests “Hell’s Kitchen” and “MasterChef” and also benefited from a pair of pre-season NFL contests, prevailed in all key demos.

Overall for the Aug. 15-21 frame, the net was tops with a 1.8 rating/6 share, followed by NBC (1.6/5), CBS and Univision (1.4/4), ABC (1.2/4) and top cabler USA (1.0/3). Fox also led in adults 25-54 (2.0/6), while CBS won total viewers (6 million).

Fox’s winning week was paced by Gordon Ramsay’s one-two punch of “Hell’s Kitchen” and “MasterChef,” with the former peaking on Monday (2.9/9, 6.99m), the latter with its finale on Tuesday (2.9/8, 7.12m). Net also scored for its NFL preseason game on Thursday (3.1/10 in 18-49, 8.59m).

At NBC, “Sunday Night Football” was No. 2 for the week in 18-49 (3.7/10) and No. 1 in total viewers (10.68m) for its Dallas-San Diego matchup. The only other highlight for the net, though, was “America’s Got Talent,” whose Tuesday performance seg ranked 10th for the week in 18-49 (2.8/8) and second in total viewers (10.40m).

CBS was led by “Big Brother,” whose three editions ranked among the week’s top 10 in all key categories. Sunday’s seg racked up the show’s best numbers on the night (3.2/9, 8.37m) since September 2007.

The Eye’s top scripted program in 18-49 was a repeat of “CSI” in its new Wednesday timeslot (1.6/5).

ABC was paced by reality contests “Bachelor Pad” on Monday (2.1/6, 6.41m) and “Wipeout” on Thursday (1.9/6, 6.47m).

Univision, meanwhile, finished second to Fox in adults 18-34 (1.4/5). The Spanish-lingo broadcaster notes that it is edging out Fox as the broadcast leader in that demo for the summer-to-date.

In cable, “Jersey Shore” was on the rise (4.2/13 in 18-49, 7.80m), matching its second-best demo score in history and easily standing as TV’s top 18-49 series draw for the week. Also for the net, Tuesday’s “Teen Mom” continued to impress (1.9/6, 3.24m), and “Teen Wolf” wrapped its first season Monday on an uptick (2.08 million viewers), leading its timeslot in females 12-34 (1.9/6).

Joining “Jersey” among the week’s top 20 shows in 18-49 were HBO’s “True Blood” (3.1/9, 5.53m), History’s “Pawn Stars” (2.1/6, 5.47m), A&E’s “Storage Wars” (2.1/6, 5.01m), E!’s “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” (2.0/6, 3.62m) and, on the sports side, a preseason “Monday Night Football” game on ESPN (1.9/6, 4.97m for Jets-Texans) and “WWE Raw” on USA (1.9/05).

On the scripted side, the top cable series were USA’s “Royal Pains” in 18-49 (1.6/4) and “Burn Notice” in 25-54 (1.9/5) and TNT’s “Rizzoli and Isles” in total viewers (6.74m).

Also of note: VH1’s “Basketball Wives” reunion spec (1.5/5, 2.57m) was cable’s No. 1 program Monday in women 18-49 (2.2/7); Oxygen’s “The Glee Project” capped its season with a series-high 1.24 million viewers Sunday; and ABC Family’s “The Lying Game” (1.39m) got off to a modest start — its 1.1 rating in women 18-34 was less than half its potent lead-in from “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” (2.3).

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