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Weekly Ratings: Reality Shows, Discovery’s Shark Week Hot

As the ratings bar for scripted summer series continues to lower, audiences are sticking with tried-and-true unscripted series more than ever. Last week, the top eight programs in adults 18-49 were reality series — including longtime summer champion “America’s Got Talent” on NBC, thrice-weekly warm-weather staple “Big Brother” on CBS and a celebrity version of longtime gameshow favorite “Family Feud” on ABC.

The reality heavyweights couldn’t keep down Discovery’s Shark Week, however. The event accounted for four of the top 15 primetime programs in adults 18-49 for the week of July 6-12, and this was the highest-rated Shark Week ever in adults 25-54 and some female demos, according to Nielsen estimates.

CBS’ “The Zoo” is the summer’s top new scripted series, matching its premiere-week demo ratings in its second week. While in cable, USA’s “Mr. Robot” and HBO’s “Ballers” have emerged as bright spots while a few others that started more modestly, like USA’s “Complications” and Lifetime’s “UnReal,” have improved their standing by rising in recent weeks.

The overall theme of summer, though, is the “live plus same-day” declines for most returning scripted series, as the number of available options for viewers continues to grow and it’s become harder and harder to keep up with them. FX’s “The Strain,” Syfy’s “Dominion” and Showtime’s “Masters of Sex” were the latest shows to return sharply lower.

Looking at last week’s network race, NBC prevailed in adults 18-49 thanks to “America’s Got Talent” (pictured), which was the No. 1 program in the demo (2.3 rating/8 share) as well as total viewers (10.57 million). The net also got help from “American Ninja Warrior” (1.9/7 in 18-49, 6.42 million viewers overall) and a solid summer premiere by “Hollywood Game Night” (1.5/5 in 18-49, 5.18 million viewers overall).

These perfs, along with the always reliable “Dateline” on multiple nights, helped ease the sting of Thursday’s low-rated “Aquarius” (0.5/2 in 18-49, 2.47 million viewers overall) and “Hannibal” (0.4/1 in 18-49, 1.38 million), which have been downgraded to Saturday timeslots starting this week.

At CBS, “Zoo” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 7.67 million viewers overall) held 100% of its premiere week’s ratings in both 18-49 and 25-54 (1.8/5) and was the week’s No. 1 scripted series. Also ticking up from the previous week were “Under the Dome” (1.1/4 in 18-49, 5.12 million viewers overall), the week’s No. 2 scripted series, and “Extant” (0.8/3 in 18-49, 5.11 million viewers overall).

Big Brother” averaged a season-best 2.0 rating in 18-49, with all three of its hours ranking among the week’s top 10 shows.

ABC moved ahead of CBS in 18-49 behind top-5 shows “Celebrity Family Feud” (2.1/8) and “The Bachelorette” (2.0/7). “Feud” had its best showing since premiere night, and encores of the summer’s first three episodes of the gameshow lifted the Alphabet to first place on Saturday night. Airing after “Family Feud” on Sunday, “Battlebots” dropped off a bit more in its fourth week (1.2/4 in 18-49, 4.07 million viewers overall) but still led its hour in 18-49.

ABC’s Thursday drama lineup looked a little healthier, with “Mistresses” (0.8/3 in 18-49, 3.49 million viewers overall) posting its best numbers in the three weeks since its premiere, while “Rookie Blue” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 4.24 million viewers overall) held steady in same-night rating and then hit a season high in Live+3 (1.14 in 18-49). Leading off the night, “Astronaut Wives Club” (0.8/3 in 18-49, 4.28 million viewers overall) edged up from its low of the previous week.

CW saw a solid return for “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” (0.5/2 in 184-9, 1.66 million viewers overall), but British import comedy “Dates” was a dud on Thursday (0.2 in 18-49, 0.69 million viewers at 9 p.m.; 0.1 in 18-49, 0.51 million at 9:30).

FX’s “The Strain” averaged a 0.78 rating in adults 18-49 and 1.664 million viewers overall as it launched its second season. While this is a good demo number for cable these days — only a handful of basic cable series have done better — it represents a sizable decline from last year’s 1.18 premiere rating, and well below the roughly 1 demo rating it averaged over the course of its final four episodes last summer, and those episodes had tougher competition in the form of NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.”

Showtime’s “Ray Donovan” drew series-low ratings for its third-season premiere (0.32 rating in 18-49, 1.08 million viewers overall), down about 35% from its average last summer, while lead-out “Masters of Sex” (0.13 in 18-49, 583,000) also opened at a series low. And at Syfy, “Dominion” (0.26 rating in 18-49, 1.059 million viewers overall) opened well below its same-night averages of last year, in part due to a new night (Thursday) and lead-in (“WWE Smackdown”).

OWN’s “The Haves and the Have Nots” (0.81 rating in 18-49, 2.79 million viewers overall) fell off in its second week back but was still the week’s No. 1-rated scripted basic cable series in 18-49. It led all of cable for the night in women 25-54 (1.55 rating).

Also moving up the ranks is USA’s “Mr. Robot” (0.59 rating in 18-49, 1.60 million viewers overall), which rose 7% week to week in the demo for a series high in its third week. Lead-in “Suits” seems to be re-energized too, edging up to season highs of its own in both 18-49 (0.62) and 25-54 (0.76). And joining “Mr. Robot” in demo highs last week was the network’s other rookie drama, Thursday’s “Complications” (0.46 in 18-49, 1.53 million viewers overall).

ABC Family’s “The Fosters” drew its largest overall Live+3 audience in nearly six months (2.122 million). It was up week to week by double-digits in many categories, including adults 18-34 (1.07 vs. 0.96), and was cable’s No. 1 scripted telecast for its Monday hour in target demos. Another standout was “Baby Daddy,” which also delivered best-since-January numbers in total viewers (1.26 million) as well as all key female demos, and a four-week high in adults 18-34 (0.42 rating) — easily standing as cable TV’s No. 1 scripted telecast for its Wednesday half-hour.

TNT’s “Rizzoli & Isles” (0.76 in 18-49, 4.42 million viewers overall) and FX’s “Tyrant” (0.43 in 18-49, 1.24 million viewers overall) both hit season highs in their fourth outings of the summer, with the latter surging nearly 50%.

Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Orange County” (0.90 in 18-49, 2 million viewers overall) hit Live+3 season highs (1.3 in 18-49, 2.8 million, and its Monday lead-out “Odd Mom Out” posted best-since-premiere scores in both same-day (0.37 in 18-49, 746,000) and Live+3 (0.53 in 18-49, 1.1 million).

Sunday’s cable action was highlighted by strong season premieres for Discovery’s “Naked and Afraid XL” (1.2 rating in 18-49, 2.95 million viewers overall) and VH1’s “Basketball Wives” (0.99 in 18-49, 1.90 million viewers overall). The former, which benefited from promotion during the network’s Shark Week, was cable’s No. 1 show in 18-49, 25-54 and 18-34, and the latter was No. 1 on the female side of these demos.

MTV’s “Teen Mom II” kicked off its sixth season on a new night (Thursday) with a solid 1.14 rating in adults 18-49 and 1.95 million viewers overall; it was cable’s No. 2 program of the night in many categories, and led all of television in women 18-34 (2.2). And after getting a “Teen Wolf” lead-in for its premiere, the net’s Tuesday newcomer “Scream” (0.37 in 18-49, 811,000 viewers overall) dropped off 18% from its premiere in week two without it.

Fox News Channel ranked second in total viewers among ad-supported cable networks (1.62 million), behind only Discovery and its Shark Week. “The O’Reilly Factor” had a good week, delivering its largest nightly audience of the summer on both Wednesday and Thursday (2.77 million).

Other live plus same-day ratings of note: HBO’s “Ballers” (0.84 in 18-49, 1.59 million viewers overall) edged up in the demo even though both “True Detective” (1.1 in 18-49, 2.36 million viewers overall) and “The Brink” (0.39 in 18-49, 989,000 viewers) hit lows; AMC Sunday rookie “Humans” (0.44 in 18-49, 1.21 million viewers overall) recovered from its week-earlier tumble, but “Halt and Catch Fire” didn’t budge (0.17, 499,000 viewers overall); Lifetime’s “UnReal” (0.32 in 18-49, 739,000) logged its second best performance in six airings to date; and one week after taking a tumble, WeTV’s “Braxton Family Values” surged to summer highs (0.64 in 18-49, 1.30 million viewers overall).


(Live plus same-day for week of July 6-12, 2015)

Adults 18-49 (rating/share)
NBC ……………………………  1.1/4
ABC ……………………………  1.0/4
Discovery ……………………..  1.0/4
Univision ………………………  0.9/4
CBS ……………………………  0.9/3
Fox …………………………….  0.7/3
Telemundo ……………………  0.6/2
USA …………………………… 0.5/2
TBS ……………………………  0.5/2
FX ……………………………..  0.4/1

Total Viewers (in millions)
CBS …………………………….  5.02
NBC ……………………………  4.61
ABC ……………………………  4.16
UNI …………………………….  2.49
Fox ……………………………..  2.48
Discovery ………………………  2.38
Disney ………………………….  1.65
Fox News ……………………… 1.62
USA ……………………………  1.58
Telemundo ……………………  1.38

(Live plus same-day for July 6-12, 2015)

Adults 18-49
1.  America’s Got Talent (NBC), 2.3/8
2.  Celebrity Family Feud (ABC), 2.1/8
3.  The Bachelorette (ABC), 2.0/7
4.  Big Brother-Wednesday (CBS), 2.0/8
4.  Big Brother-Sunday (CBS), 2.0/7
6.  American Ninja Warrior (NBC), 1.9/7
6.  Big Brother-Thursday (CBS), 1.9/7
8.  MasterChef (Fox), 1.7/7
9.  Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta (VH1), 1.6/6
10.  Special: Super Predator (Discovery), 1.5/6
10.  Hollywood Game Night (NBC), 1.5/5
12.  The Big Bang Theory-r (CBS), 1.4/6
12.  Special: Bride of Jaws (Discovery), 1.4/5
12.  Special: Ninja Sharks (Discovery), 1.4/5
12.  Ninja Sharks (Discovery), 1.4/5
12.  Special: Return of the Great White (Discovery), 1.4/5
17.  America’s Got Talent, Wednesday-r (NBC), 1.3/5
17.  Special: Alien Sharks (Discovery), 1.3/4
19.  Mom-r (CBS), 1.2/5
19.  Zoo (CBS), 1.2/4
19.  Battlebots (ABC), 1.2/4
19.  American Ninja Warrior, Wednesday-r (Discovery), 1.2/4
19.  Naked and Afraid XL (Discovery), 1.2/4
19.  Special: Shark Planet (Discovery), 1.2/4

Total Viewers (in millions)
1.  America’s Got Talent (NBC), 10.57
2.  Celebrity Family Feud (ABC), 8.72
3.  Zoo (CBS), 7.67
4.  NCIS (CBS), 7.60
5.  60 Minutes (CBS), 7.59
6.  The Bachelorette (ABC), 7.04
7.  The Big Bang Theory-r, 6.90
8.  America’s Got Talent, Wednesday-r (NBC), 6.68
9.  American Ninja Warrior (NBC), 6.42
10.  NCIS: New Orleans-r (CBS), 6.06
11.  Blue Bloods-r (CBS), 5.95
12.  Big Brother-Wednesday (CBS), 5.88
13.  Mom (CBS), 5.87
13.  Big Brother-Thursday (CBS), 5.87
15.  Big Brother-Sunday (CBS), 5.85
16.  NCIS: Los Angeles-r (CBS), 5.81
17.  Hollywood Game Night (NBC), 5.18
18.  Criminal Minds (CBS), 5.17
19.  Under the Dome (CBS), 5.12
20.  Extant (CBS), 5.11

1.  Zoo (CBS), 1.2
2.  Under the Dome (CBS), 1.1
3.  Wayward Pines (Fox), 1.0
4.  Extant (CBS), 0.84
5.  The Haves and the Have Nots (OWN), 0.81
6.  Astronaut Wives Club (ABC), 0.79
6.  Mistresses (ABC), 0.79
8.  Strain (FX), 0.78
9.  The Whispers (ABC), 0.77
10.  Rizzoli & Isles (TNT), 0.76
Source: Nielsen



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