‘Baby’ boom for NBC

Another reality newbie heats up summer

NBC joined the broadcast nets’ early summer hit parade Thursday with upbeat scores for its music competition skein “Hit Me Baby One More Time.”

Show, which pits former chart-toppers such as Loverboy and Arrested Development against each other in a bid for a second shot at stardom, produced the highest young-adult rating for the premiere of a new unscripted series in two years.

Its 4.7 rating/13 share in adults 18-49 tops the strong 4.3/12 for ABC’s unscripted “Dancing With the Stars” one night earlier, and “Hit Me Baby” figures to rank as the No. 1 program of the week in the demo, according to Nielsen.

“Hit Me Baby” showed broad appeal in categories including adults 25-54 (5.0/13) and 18-34 (4.4/14), winning the 9 o’clock hour in all under-50 adult demos. In total viewers, its 8.9 million placed second to a repeat of CBS drama “CSI” (4.1/11 in 18-49, 14.2 million viewers overall).

In 18-49, “Hit Me Baby” scored the highest debut rating for a new unscripted summer series since Fox’s “American Juniors” in June 2003 and matched NBC’s best since “Meet My Folks” in July 2002.

In addition to “Hit Me Baby One More Time” and ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” last week also saw good starts for Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen” and the WB’s “Beauty and the Geek.” These rep four of 15 new reality programs skedded to bow on the broadcast nets before Labor Day.

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