As summer nears the end, cable’s hottest seasons were really scorching last week.
HBO’s “True Blood” and MTV’s “Jersey Shore” both hit series highs, while rookie dramas “Covert Affairs” on USA and “Rizzoli and Isles” on TNT continue to impress. Also looking good were the likes of Bravo’s “Real Housewives of New Jersey” and E!’s “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”
Overall, it was live events like the Emmys and preseason football that helped settle the weekly rankings. CBS, NBC and Fox all tied for first place among adults 18-49 with a 1.8 rating/6 share, followed by Univision (1.4/5), ABC (1.3/4) and top cabler USA (1.0/3).
CBS, whose “Big Brother” is having a great summer, edged past NBC to win among adults 25-54 (2.3/7 to 2.2/6) and also made it 10 straight weeks as primetime’s most watched network overall (6.6 million to NBC’s 6.4 million).
At HBO, the season’s penultimate episode of “True Blood” surged to a 3.2 rating/9 share in adults 18-49 and drew 5.44 million viewers overall — standing as primetime’s No. 3 program (and No. 1 series) for the week in adults 18-49.
This is especially impressive considering that HBO is available in less than one third of the country. Also, its Sunday timeslot put it up against the only two telecasts to rate higher for the week: NBC’s coverage of the 62nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards (4.1/12 in 18-49, 13.50m) and Fox’s special preseason NFL game between the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers (3.7/11, 10.13m).
The Emmys improved by a smidge vs. last year in total viewers to hit a four-year high; and apparently boosted by fans of 19-time nominee “Glee,” the kudocast hit a five-year high in female teens (2.3/9).
MTV’s reality skein “Jersey Shore” (3.0/9, 5.82m) racked up another high, placing fifth for the week in 18-49 and first in women 18-34 (5.5/18).
At USA, “Covert Affairs” (1.9/5 in 18-49, 5.87m) again built nicely on its “White Collar” lead-in (1.3/4, 4.60m). And the net scored even bigger with its Thursday combo of “Burn Notice” (2.1/6, 6.29m) and “Royal Pains” (1.8/5, 6.08m), which aired their summer finales.
TNT rookie “Rizzoli and Isles” (1.6/5, 6.73m) continues to mesh well with its lead-in from “The Closer” (1.4/4, 7.05m), matching or besting the vet in both 18-49 and 25-54. “Closer” still stood as cable’s most-watched program overall.
Also performing well in crowded timeslots on cable were Monday’s “Real Housewives of New Jersey” on Bravo (1.7/5, 3.36m) and Sunday’s “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” on E! (1.9/5, 3.57m).
ESPN moved up to second in 18-49 for the week among cablers thanks to preseason NFL action on both Monday (1.8/5 in 18-49, 5.06m for Arizona-Tennessee) and Thursday (2.1/6, 5.73m for Indianapolis-Green Bay).
CBS improved its weekend standing by airing a pair of its own NFL exhibition games, winning Friday with its San Diego-New Orleans matchup (1.8/7 in 18-49, 5.94m) and dominating Saturday with Dallas-Houston (2.2/8, 6.44m).
The Eye’s “Big Brother” also had another big week, with all three editions making the top 10. Wednesday’s installment racked up the best 18-34 score for the franchise since 2007 (2.6/10), and Sunday’s seg — airing opposite the Emmys — surged to the show’s best delivery on the night since its spring edition in 2008.
NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” which ranked fourth for the week in 18-49 (3.1/9), and trailed only the Emmys among total viewers.
ABC, without football or any event programming, was led by Tuesday’s “Wipeout” (2.7/9 in 18-49, 7.98m).