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‘Kitchen’ gets tasty ratings

Reality show puts Fox on top

More scorching numbers for “Hell’s Kitchen” kept Fox primetime’s demo leader for the 25th straight week.

Net is also doing a better job of holding onto its summer aud than its rivals. Fox is off just 4% in adults 18-49 vs. the first nine weeks of summer 2006, while ABC, CBS and NBC have all declined by 10% or more, according to Nielsen.

Fox’s winning streak in the adults 18-49 demo — the longest since NBC captured 40 straight in 1996 — was paced by “Hell’s Kitchen,” easily the frame’s top program (4.2 rating/12 share). Third-year series is up about 10% vs. its performance of last year at this point of summer.

Overall, according to Nielsen estimates for July 23-29, Fox’s 2.3 rating/8 share in adults 18-49 comfortably topped the numbers for CBS (1.8/6), NBC (1.7/6) and ABC (1.6/5), with Univision not too far behind the pack (1.4/4).

Fox also prevailed in other categories ranging from adults 25-54 (2.4/7) to persons 12-34 (2.0/8), but CBS still drew the most overall viewers (6.34 million).

For Fox, “Hell’s Kitchen” was joined among the week’s top programs by the Thursday tandem of “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” (3.2/11 in 18-49, 8.83m for a special hourlong seg) and “So You Think You Can Dance” (3.2/10, 9.15m). These shows tied for No. 2 in 18-49 with NBC’s “The Singing Bee” (3.2/9, 9.49m), as both “Bee” and “Lyrics” continue to perform well.

And although “The Simpsons” was all the rage at the box office over the weekend, the star of Fox’s Sunday animation lineup was “Family Guy.” A repeat at 9 dominated its timeslot in all under-55 categories (2.8/8 in 18-49, 5.56m), while a second encore at 9:30 fared even better (3.1/9, 6.38m).

At CBS, all three nights of “Big Brother” ranked among the week’s top 20 shows in 18-49, with the reality skein winning its Sunday slot (2.4/8 in 18-49, 6.17m) and placing second to other nonscripted shows on Tuesday (2.7/8, 6.85m) and Thursday (2.7/10, 7.08m).

NBC was led by “Singing Bee” and “America’s Got Talent” (2.9/10, 9.83m), with the latter averaging more viewers overall than any show last week. And “Dateline” continues to apprehend good numbers on Wednesday with more installments of its “To Catch a Predator” series (2.8/8, 6.82m).

ABC’s hidden-camera series “Just for Laughs” at 8:30 Tuesday was down from its premiere but remained the net’s top show for the week (2.7/9 in 18-49, 7.87m). On the other end of the spectrum, “Set for Life” placed a listless sixth in its Friday 8 o’clock slot (1.0/4, 3.70m).

Univision moved up to No. 2 in adults 18-34 (1.6/6, tied with NBC), boosted by rising weeknight telenovela “Destilando Amor” (Essence of Love).

And the CW continues to bumble through its first summer season, but it at least has fresh segs of wrestling’s “Friday Night Smackdown” (1.4/6, 4.40m) to help the average.

The top cable program of the week in adults 18-49 was Discovery’s two-hour “Shark Week 2007” (1.9/6, 4.22m), which devoured most of the broadcast programs airing opposite it Sunday, including a repeat of CBS’ own “Shark” (1.2/4, 5.06m).

That helped Discovery rank among the top five cable nets for the week in primetime in all key demos. USA and TNT were on top in the 18-49 and 25-54 demos, while Disney Channel ruled in total viewers for a third straight week (2.85 million).

Taking advantage of its potent skedmate “The Closer” (1.5/4 in 18-49, 7.29m), TNT’s “Saving Grace” (1.5/4, 6.42m) opened well, retaining 100% of its lead-in among adults 18-49 and 87% in adults 25-54 (2.0/5 vs. 2.3/6). “Grace” becomes the most-watched premiere series of the year on cable.

At FX, the preem of Glenn Close drama “Damages” averaged a nothing-special 0.9/3 in 18-49 (eighth among cable dramas), but delivered a sizable 3.66 million viewers overall — thanks to a big tune-in among auds 50-plus.

MTV’s “Making the Band 4” on Monday (1.6/5 in 18-49, 2.95m) ranked third among primetime cable shows for the week in 18-49 and was easily No. 1 in adults 18-34 (2.3/7).

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