CBS’ “Big Brother” had its best week of the summer and claimed the top three series spots in the weekly demo rankings, but it was no match for MTV’s “Video Music Awards.”

Though it was down from last year, the Sunday awards show remains a popular draw among adults under 50 — attracting about as many as the Primetime Emmys one night later on NBC.

It was another transitional week overall, with lots of coming and goings in primetime, including the final episode of HBO’s “True Blood,” the season-ender of hot rookie drama “The Last Ship” on TNT and a record-setting season premiere for BBC America’s “Doctor Who.”

It was also a big week for pro football — the first of many over the next five months — as three NFL preseason games cracked the top 15 in adults 18-49. In a surprise, it was ESPN’s Monday matchup between Cleveland and Washington drawing the most young adults of the three (2.3 rating/9 share in the demo) as audiences tuned in to see Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel; in total viewers (6.90 million), it was the biggest tune-in for a preseason game on the cabler  in five years.

Of note outside of primetime, the U.S. Championship game of the Little League World Series on ABC (Chicago vs. Las Vegas) drew a 12-year-high with 5.19 million viewers on Saturday afternoon.

And over at FXX, the first few days of its “The Simpsons” marathon helped the nascent net stand as the 21st most popular cable network in total-day averages for the week — a huge jump from its 65th place finish one week earlier.

According to “live plus same-day” estimates from Nielsen for the week of Aug. 18-24, Univision finished on top in adults 18-49 for a third straight week with a 1.3 rating/5 share in adults 18-49, followed by CBS and NBC (1.2/4), ABC (0.9/3) and Fox (0.8/3).

CBS edged past NBC to win in adults 25-54 (1.7 to 1.6) while the Eye won comfortably in total viewers (5.8 million to 5.1 million for NBC).

The standout on broadcast last week was “Big Brother,” whose Sunday telecast (2.5/8 in 18-49, 7.24 million viewers overall) set season highs — and also matched the top demo score for any night last season. The Wednesday and Thursday editions both did 2.3 demo ratings, tying for third among all primetime shows for the week.

At NBC, “America’s Got Talent” continued its sluggish late-summer performance in 18-49 (2.0/7 on Tuesday, 1.9/6 on Wednesday) but remains a powerhouse in total viewers — and was actually up vs. the comparable nights a year ago.

Monday newbie “Running Wild with Bear Grylls” (1.1/4 in 18-49, 5.83 million viewers overall) came down from its high of the previous week but remains one of the top summer newcomers on any net. Meanwhile, the Peacock’s new Thursday comedy “Welcome to Sweden” bounced up a couple of tenths from its prior outing (0.7 vs. 0.5).

ABC’s singing competition “Rising Star” ended its modestly rated run with an uptick Sunday (1.0/3 in 18-49, 3.57 million viewers overall), and “Rookie Blue” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 5.31 million viewers overall) was on the rise Thursday as it closed its season.  The cop drama matched its year-ago finale demo score while delivering its largest closing-night audience to date.

With “So You Think You Can Dance” hitting lows on Wednesday (0.9/3 in 18-49, 3.45 million viewers overall), Fox’s only night with a pulse was Monday with “MasterChef” (2.0/7 in 18-49, 5.83 million viewers overall) and “Hotel Hell” (1.5/4 in 18-49, 3.99 million viewers overall), with both shows rising week to week.

At CW, “Whose Line Is It Anyway” remained hot leading off Monday (0.6/2 in 18-49, 1.66 million viewers overall), and then hit a summer high with its repeat episode behind it (0.7/2 in 18-49, 1.91 million viewers overall). It was followed by the 21st-cycle premiere of “America’s Next Top Model” (0.4/1 in 18-49, 1.11 million viewers overall), which was down two tenths from its Friday 8 p.m. premiere of last summer — though it faced much tougher reality competition this time.

On Wednesday, the net’s “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” (0.5/2 in 18-49, 1.69 million viewers overall) held at the same solid demo number of its first three weeks.

TNT’s “The Last Ship” (1.0/2 in 18-49, 4.38 million viewers overall) ended its strong first season steady in the demo and up in total viewers, finishing as cable’s top new show of the summer in adults 25-54 and total viewers. “Rizzoli & Isles” (0.83 rating in 18-49, 5.21 million viewers overall) was No. 2 behind “Ship” last week in the demo while standing as the most-watched cable series overall for the frame.

At VH1, “Love and Hip Hop Atlanta” wrapped its season with strong numbers (2.1/7 in 18-49, 3.90 million viewers overall), down a bit from last year’s finale but big enough for a No. 2 finish among all series on television for the week — behind only CBS’ “Big Brother” — in 18-49.

At HBO, “True Blood” (2.1/6 in 18-49, 4.04 million viewers overall) didn’t see a big finale bounce, but gained about 500,000 viewers week-to-week to end its run with a season high. And behind it, rookie “The Leftovers” drew its largest audience to date (1.85 million).

BBC America’s season premiere of “Doctor Who,” with the debut of Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor, set a network record with 2.2 million viewers and was cable’s top show for the night in 18-49 (0.85 rating).

Discovery’s “Fast N’ Loud” kicked off its season well Monday (1.0/4 in 18-49, 2.34 million viewers overall), ruling as cable’s No. 1 non-sports program of the night in key male demos.

New Starz drama “Outlander” is picking up steam, drawing a best-yet 1.003 million for its regular-timeslot telecast on Saturday and 1.7 million in total for the night. The show continues to skew more female than previous series on the premium cabler, with femmes comprising 62% of Saturday’s audience.


(Live plus same-day)

Adults 18-49 (rating/share)
UNI             1.3/5
CBS             1.2/4
NBC             1.2/4
ABC             0.9/3
Fox              0.8/3
MTV            0.7/3
ESPN          0.7/2
TBS             0.7/2
USA            0.6/2
TEL              0.5/2

Total Viewers
CBS                5.82 million
NBC               5.10 million
ABC               4.02 million
UNI                3.33 million
ESPN             2.59 million
Fox                 2.55 million
Fox News      1.91 million
USA                1.89 million
TNT                1.81 million
Disney           1.79 million


(Live plus same-day)

Adults 18-49
1.  MTV Video Music Awards (MTV), 4.2/15
2.  Big Brother-Sunday (CBS), 2.5/8
3.  Big Brother-Wednesday (CBS), 2.3/9
3.  NFL Preseason-Monday: Cleveland-Washington (ESPN), 2.3/9
3.  Big Brother-Thursday (CBS), 2.3/8
6.  Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta (VH1), 2.1/7
6.  NFL Preseason-Sunday: Cincinnati-Arizona (NBC), 2.1/6
6.  True Blood (HBO)*, 2.1/6
9.  America’s Got Talent-Tuesday (NBC), 2.0/7
9.  MasterChef (Fox), 2.0/7
11.  America’s Got Talent-Wednesday (NBC), 1.9/6
11.  MTV Video Music Awards Pre-Show (MTV), 1.9/6
13.  American Ninja Warrior (NBC), 1.8/6
14.  The Big Bang Theory-r (CBS), 1.6/7
15.  NFL Preseason-Friday: Oakland-Green Bay (CBS), 1.5/6
15.  Under the Dome (CBS), 1.5/5
15.  Hotel Hell (Fox), 1.5/4
18.  Mom, Thursday-r (CBS), 1.4/5
19.  Bachelor in Paradise (ABC), 1.3/4

Total Viewers (in millions)
1.  America’s Got Talent-Tuesday (NBC), 9.48
2. America’s Got Talent-Wednesday (NBC), 9.43
3.  NCIS-r (CBS), 9.11
4.  60 Minutes (CBS), 8.50
5.  MTV Video Music Awards (MTV), 8.26
6.  The Big Bang Theory-r (CBS), 7.45
7.  Under the Dome (CBS), 7.30
8.  Big Brother-Sunday (CBS), 7.24
9.  NFL Preseason-Sunday: Cincinnati-Arizona (NBC), 6.98
10.  NCIS: Los Angeles-r (CBS), 6.97
11.  NFL Preseason-Monday: Cleveland-Washington (ESPN), 6.90
12.  Big Brother-Wednesday (CBS), 6.64
13.  Big Brother-Thursday (CBS), 6.60
14.  Unforgettable (CBS), 6.39
15.  MasterChef (Fox), 5.83
16.  Mom, Thursday-r (CBS), 5.78
17.  American Ninja Warrior (NBC), 5.74
18.  America’s Got Talent, Wednesday-r (NBC), 5.68
19.  Extant (CBS), 5.57
20.  NFL Preseason-Friday: Oakland-Green Bay (CBS), 5.46

Source: Nielsen (English-language programs only)
Each 18-49 ratings point represents roughly 1.3 million viewers

*not supported by advertising