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ABC’s ‘Stars’ shines

'BET Awards' also stands out in slow week

A few firstrun programs set off ratings fireworks last week, including ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” and BET’s “BET Awards Show,” but it was slow going otherwise in primetime during what is typically the least-viewed sesh of the year.

Most of the damage was done early in the week as the attention of Americans turned to Independence Day festivities closer to the weekend. On Monday, TNT drama “The Closer” and Fox’s reality skein “Hell’s Kitchen” looked good, and Wednesday saw more perky numbers for the WB’s “Beauty and the Geek.”

According to estimates by Nielsen Media Research, ABC and CBS tied for the week’s adults 18-49 lead with a mere 2.0 rating/7 share, followed closely by a 1.9/6 for NBC and a 1.7/6 for Fox. The Eye had it again in both adults 25-54 (2.5/8) and total viewers (7.08 million); Fox led among persons 12-34 (1.5/6).

ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” one week from its finale, was easily the week’s No. 1 program in both adults 18-49 (5.6/17) and total viewers (18.59 million), hitting series highs.

But aside from this and a solid repeat perf by Sunday unscripted series “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” it was a quiet week for the Alphabet.

Tuesday’s limited-series “Empire” started weakly (1.9/5 in 18-49, 6.35m), and Saturday’s repackaged highlights of the day’s Live 8 concerts earned a modest 1.0/5 in 18-49 and 2.9 million viewers overall, making it the night’s lowest-rated show on broadcast.

At CBS, which should begin to take control of the summer ratings race with tonight’s premiere of “Big Brother 6,” had four of the week’s top six shows in adults 18-49, led by repeats of “CSI” (3.8/12, 13.32m) and “Two and a Half Men” (3.4/9, 10.58m).

Net also did OK Tuesday with its combo of reality series “Fire Me … Please” (2.5/7 in 18-49, 5.96m) and newsmag “48 Hours” (2.4/7, 7.41m), but ran fifth against mostly repeat competish on Thursday with reality entry “The Cut” (1.4/5, 4.70m).

NBC, competitive despite placing no shows in the top 10 among adults 18-49, would have won the week if Saturday’s “Daytona 400” NASCAR race (3.2/13 in 18-49, 8.31m) hadn’t been pushed to a 9:55 p.m. start after a lengthy rain delay. It dominated the only hour it aired in primetime.

NBC’s firstrun reality fare struggled, with Thursday’s soon-to-wrap “Hit Me Baby One More Time” the strongest (2.4/7 in 18-49, 4.90m). Tuesday saw weak showings for the combo of “Average Joe 4” (1.9/5, 4.33m for its premiere) and “I Want to Be a Hilton” (1.8/5, 4.45m).

Fox fell to fourth for the first time this summer, as its revitalized Sunday laffer lineup was preempted for a low-rated repeat of “Lost World: Jurassic Park” (1.2/5 in 18-49, 3.21m). Strongest night was Monday with “Hell’s Kitchen” (3.4/10 in 18-49, 7.14m) and a repeat “Nanny 911” (2.3/7, 5.68m).

Among the weblets, UPN edged past the WB in most categories, paced as usual by Thursday’s rebounding “WWE Smackdown” (2.1/7, 5.25m).

The WB’s “Beauty and the Geek” (1.9/7 in 18-49, 3.92m) won its Wednesday hour among adults 18-34 (2.1/8) and persons 12-34 (2.0/8) for a fourth straight episode, ranking in the top 10 among all shows for the week in these demos.

TNT led ad-supported cable nets in primetime for the week in adults 18-49 (0.9/3), adults 25-54 (1.1/4) and total viewers (2.94 million), getting a boost from airings of “Saving Private Ryan” on Saturday and Sunday.

Biggest cable story, though, was BET’s coverage last week on Tuesday of the “BET Awards Show” (2.8/9 in 18-49, 6.58m), which cracked the list of top 10 primetime programs for the week in 18-49.

Other winners include TNT’s “The Closer” (1.3/4 in 18-49, 5.35m) and Spike’s two hours of “WWE Raw” (2.4/7, 5.99m). Thursday bow of “Being Bobby Brown” (0.7/2, 1.14m) boosted Bravo’s averages but was nothing special.

Outside of primetime Saturday, MTV’s coverage of the Live 8 concerts averaged 1.4 million viewers, while VH1 drew 762,000, Nielsen estimated.

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