‘Talent’ taking off

NBC beats out Wednesday competition

Looking to attract some of the audience that has made “American Idol” the hottest show on television, NBC is off to a good start with its new “America’s Got Talent.”

Wednesday’s two-hour premiere of the talent show from “Idol’s” Simon Cowell and FremantleMedia led its time period in key categories — besting Fox’s solid “So You Think You Can Dance” — and delivered the second-highest score for any series telecast this summer.

Singers, dancers, ventriloquists, microwaving magicians and rapping grannies were among those auditioning Wednesday before judges David Hasselhoff, Brandy and U.K. media personality Piers Morgan. Regis Philbin presided as host.

According to Nielsen, the 9-11 p.m. preem of “Talent” averaged a slot-leading 4.6 rating/14 share in adults 18-49 and 12.41 million viewers overall. It built in its second hour after beating Fox’s similar-appeal “Dance” from 9 to 10 (4.4/13 to 4.0/12 in 18-49).

This is the best showing in the time period for the Peacock since April 2005. It’s up 84% in 18-49 from what the net averaged in the slot last summer (2.5) and a 44% improvement from its perf during the 2005-06 broadcast season (3.2).

Since the sweep ended May 24, the only series telecast to rate higher in demos has been the June 5 season finale of NBC’s “Deal or No Deal” (5.6/17 in 18-49).

Fox’s “Dance” (3.6/11 in 18-49, 9.11 for its two hours) led head-to-head against “Talent” among the 18-34 crowd (4.2 to 4.0), but the Peacock skein fared better in broader measures.

While returning unscripted skeins “Last Comic Standing” on NBC and “Dance” on Fox have performed well, no new program has emerged as a breakout hit this summer. Upcoming weeks will show if “Talent” has got what it takes to become one.

Show will regularly air one-hour segs Wednesday at 9 (preceded by a repeat of the prior week’s seg at 8), with 30-minute results-show editions Thursday at 9:30 beginning July 13. NBC is replaying the two-hour “Talent” preem tonight at 9.

Also Wednesday, CBS didn’t do much at 8 with its “Big Brother All-Stars” casting special (2.2/7, 5.88m), which placed third in most categories. Skein’s seventh season begins July 6.

And virtually nobody is watching the lame-duck UPN and the WB this summer. UPN drew a puny 750,000 viewers for its premiere of theatrical “My Date With Drew” from 8 to 10.

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