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Weekly Ratings: Reality Shows, Sports Specials Dominate

Scripted programming continues to take a backseat this summer, with reality series and a trio of sports specials dominating the top of the Nielsen program rankings in key demos.

Tuesday’s coverage of Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game on Fox (3.1 rating/11 share) and the previous night’s “Home Run Derby” (2.5/11) were the week’s top two primetime telecasts in 18-49. While the former was within 4% of last year’s average audience, the latter was up about 30% and drew the event’s largest overall crowd (7.13 million) in six years.

The ESPN-presented “ESPY Awards,” airing on ABC for the first time, hit record highs on Wednesday (2.2/8 in 18-49, 7.75 million viewers overall), more than tripling its year-ago audience on the sports network.  With heightened interest due to an appearance by Caitlyn Jenner as recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, the three-hour show gave the Alphabet its top-rated Wednesday in young adults since March 4.

ABC’s “Celebrity Family Feud,” whose finale is this Sunday, continued its strong performance (2.0 rating/7 share in 18-49) and remains summer’s top new program in key demos as well as total viewers; last week’s overall audience of 8.81 million was its largest yet. And longtime summer reality champ “America’s Got Talent” on NBC was the week’s No. 1 series in both 18-49 (2.5/9) and total viewers (10.82 million viewers overall), up week to week despite tough competition from baseball’s all-star game.

Last week’s top scripted originals in 18-49 — albeit at a modest 1.0 rating — were CBS’ “Zoo,” HBO’s “True Detective” and OWN’s “The Haves and the Have Nots,” which hit a summer high. “Zoo,” based on a novel by James Patterson, remains the most-watched new scripted series of the summer, though last week’s 6.56 million (opposite the baseball all-star game) represented its smallest audience to date.

Fox’s “Wayward Pines” (0.9/3 in 18-49, 3.25 million viewers overall) continues to be the biggest 18-49 DVR gainer among the new summer shows, with last week’s episode more than doubling its rating in Live+3 (0.93 vs. 1.97). It’s summer’s No. 1 scripted series with a 1.92 Live+3 average in 18-49.

Overall for the week of July 13-19, according to live plus same-day numbers from Nielsen, ABC prevailed in adults 18-49 with s 1.2 rating/4 share, followed close behind by NBC, Fox and Univision (all at 1.1/4). CBS won easily in total viewers with nearly 5.2 million.

Univision ranked No. 1 among all networks in adults 18-34 for a second straight week (1.0 rating/5 share), edging out Fox (0.9/4) and ABC (0.8/4). Thursday’s telecast of the “Premios Juventud” (Youthful Awards) did a 1.7/6 in 18-49 and 3.73 million viewers overall, ranking No. 1 for the night in several key demos, including 18-34 (1.7/7).

In addition to the ESPYs, “Celebrity Family Feud” and old reliable “The Bachelorette” (1.9/7 in 18-49, 6.96 million viewers overall), ABC also had its best Thursday of summer with regular series. “The Astronaut Wives Club” (0.95 rating in 18-49, 4.44 million viewers overall) earned the highest rating since its June 18 premiere, trailing only “Zoo” among the week’s firstrun scripted broadcast series in 18-49, and Thursday skedmate “Rookie Blue” (0.74 rating in 18-49, 3.66 million viewers overall) was up for a third straight week. In between, “Mistresses” (0.86 in 18-49, 3.29 million viewers overall) matched its season high in 18-49.

NBC improved its Thursday fortunes with a two-hour “Dateline Mystery” (1.0/4 in 18-49, 5.46 million viewers overall), which more than doubled the demo scores of “Aquarius” and “Hannibal” in the same timeslot; and leading off the night, reality series “Food Fighters” (0.9/4, 3.89 million viewers overall) grew for a second straight week. Other recent reality additions “Running Wild with Bear Grylls” on Monday (1.2/4 in 18-49, 3.74 million viewers overall) and “Hollywood Game Night” on Tuesday (1.4/5 in 18-49, 4.89 million viewers overall) have improved those nights.

Not so hot were the net’s three firstrun scripted series over the weekend (“Aquarius,” “Hannibal” and “Welcome to Sweden”), all of which attracted a mere 1 share in 18-49. “Hannibal” built on “Aquarius” in 18-49 rating (0.30 vs. 0.22) but dipped below 1 million viewers overall for the first time.

CBS was paced as usual by “Big Brother,” which again placed all three of its editions among the week’s top 10 in 18-49. On the scripted side, “Under the Dome” (0.9/3 in 18-49, 4.75 million viewers overall) and “Extant” (0.6/2 in 18-49, 4.62 million viewers overall) joined “Zoo” in delivering summer lows. Starting this week, “Extant” will air at 10 p.m. on Wednesdays, behind repeats of “Criminal Minds.”

“Penn & Teller: Fool Us” has been CW’s top-rated series of summer, last week hitting a summer high 0.54 in 18-49 and 1.81 million viewers overall. The net’s British comedy import “Dates” has been a bust, though, averaging a mere 0.1 rating in 18-49 and about 500,000 total viewers in Thursday hour.

For the fourth time this year, and the first time since April, Fox News Channel stood as primetime’s most-watched cable network. Its 1.77 million beat out Disney Channel and HGTV (both 1.63 million) as well as USA (1.60 million) and TNT (1.56 million).

Discovery, on the heels of a strong Shark Week, tied with ESPN as the No. 1 cabler in 18-49. The network had cable’s No. 1 show in 18-49 on Sunday with “Naked and Afraid” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 3.01 million viewers overall), and the No. 1 primetime show on television in the demo Friday with “Alaskan Bush People” (1.0/5 in 18-49, 3.76 million viewers overall). And following “Alaskan Bush People,” “Treasure Quest: Snake Island” (0.62 rating in 18-49, 2.00 million viewers overall) became the network’s highest-rated non-spinoff series premiere of the year. In Live+3, “Alaskan Bush People” drew 4.84 million, and “Treasure Quest” grew to 2.24 million.

USA rookie “Mr. Robot” (0.43, 1.27 million viewers overall) likely lost some same-night viewers to the ESPY Awards on ABC, but it shot up by record percentages in Live+3. Its fourth episode basically doubled its overall audience in Live+3 (to 2.53 million) while more than doubling its ratings in both 18-49 (up 133% to 0.99) and 25-54 (up 141% to 1.08). Lead-in “Suits” had a strong week too, hitting season highs in Live+3 in 18-49 (1.2 rating), 25-54 (1.4 rating) and total viewers (3.81 million).

FX’s Denis Leary comedy “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll” had a modest bow Thursday (0.35 rating in 18-49, 867,000 viewers overall), but shot up 61% in adults 18-49 (to 0.56) and 57% in total viewers (to 1.363 million) — the largest percentage lift for any comedy in FX Networks’ history.

Spike was pleased with the performance of miniseries “Tut,” its first scripted event series in eight years. Sunday’s opening installment did a 0.44 rating in 18-49 and drew 1.699 million total viewers, and a pair of quickie encores that followed brought its nightly total to 2.63 million viewers. (It fell to a 0.34 in the demo and 1.45 million viewers overall on Monday of the current week.)

HBO’s “True Detective” posted its fourth straight week of 18-49 decline (1.03) while edging up in total viewers (2.41 million). Showtime’s “Ray Donovan” (0.37 in 18-49, 1.26 million viewers overall) was up a little over its low season premiere, but “Masters of Sex” fell to a tiny 0.09 rating in 18-49 and just 537,000 total viewers in its second week back.

MTV’s “Scream” (0.39 in 18-49, 872,000) was up across the board in its third week, and Syfy’s “Dominion” (0.30 in 18-49, 1.02 million total viewers) edged up from its low week-earlier season premiere.

At ABC Family, “The Fosters” (0.51 in 18-49, 1.30 million viewers overall) matched or set season highs in several categories (and then topped those on Monday of the current week), while “Pretty Little Liars” hit a four-week demo high (0.84 in 18-49, 1.70 million viewers overall). And at sister network Disney XD, the summer premiere of “Gravity Falls” on Monday (0.36, 1.91 million viewers overall) set a network record in several categories in Live+3.

TNT’s “Murder in the First” (0.33 in 18-49, 2.00 million viewers overall) posted its best demo rating since opening its season on its season premiere.

At TV Land, the premiere of “The Jim Gaffigan Show” drew 850,000 same-night viewers Wednesday for its first airing on TV Land, and a gross audience of 3.2 million in Live+3 estimates that include airings on sister networks Nick at Nite and Comedy Central. It was followed by the premiere of “Impastor,” which opened with 619,000 viewers on Wednesday and grossed 1.7 million viewers in Live+3 on the three networks. Overall, TV Land said the two new comedies reached 5.6 million viewers last week.

And Animal Planet’s “The Last Alaskans,” recently renewed for a second season, wrapped its rookie campaign July 12 with a series-high 1.83 million viewers in Live+3. It finished its season as the network’s top new series of 2015, averaging a 0.46 rating in adults 25-54 and about 1.5 million viewers overall in L+3.


(Live plus same-day for week of July 13-19, 2015)

Adults 18-49 (rating/share)
ABC ……………………………  1.15/4
Fox …………………………….  1.14/4
Univision ………………………  1.10/4
NBC ……………………………  1.06/4
CBS ……………………………  0.89/3
Telemundo …………………….  0.55/2
ESPN …………………………..  0.49/2
Discovery ………………………  0.49/2
USA ……………………………..  0.48/2
FX ………………………………..  0.48/2

Total Viewers (in millions)
CBS …………………………….  5.15
ABC ……………………………  4.57
NBC ……………………………  4.34
Fox ……………………………..  3.89
UNI ……………………………..  2.66
FNC …………………………….  1.77
Discovery ……………………..  1.63
HGTV ………………………….  1.63
USA …………………………….  1.60
TNT …………………………….  1.56

(Live plus same-day for July 13-19, 2015)

Adults 18-49
1.  Major League Baseball All-Star Game (Fox), 3.1/11
2.  Home Run Derby (ESPN), 2.5/11
2.  America’s Got Talent (NBC), 2.5/9
4.  ESPY Awards (ABC), 2.2/8
5.  Big Brother-Wednesday (CBS), 2.0/8
5.  Big Brother-Thursday (CBS), 2.0/8
5.  Celebrity Family Feud (ABC), 2.0/7
8.  The Bachelorette (ABC), 1.9/7
9.  Big Brother-Sunday (CBS), 1.8/7
9.  American Ninja Warrior (NBC), 1.8/6
11.  The Big Bang Theory-r (CBS), 1.5/6
11.  MasterChef (Fox), 1.5/6
13.  Hollywood Game Night (NBC), 1.4/5
14.  Battlebots (ABC), 1.3/4
15.  Mom (CBS), 1.2/5
15.  America’s Got Talent, Wed.-r (NBC), 1.2/5
15.  Naked and Afraid (Discovery), 1.2/4
15.  Running Wild with Bear Grylls (NBC), 1.2/4
19.  American Ninja Warrior (NBC), 1.1/4
19.  WWE Raw (USA), 1.1/4

Total Viewers (in millions)
1.  Major League Baseball All-Star Game (Fox), 10.91
2.  America’s Got Talent (NBC), 10.82
3.  Celebrity Family Feud (ABC), 8.81
4.  60 Minutes (CBS), 8.08
5.  ESPY Awards (ABC), 7.75
6.  The Big Bang Theory-r (CBS), 7.21
7.  Home Run Derby (ESPN), 7.13
8.  The Bachelorette (ABC), 6.96
9.  NCIS-r (CBS), 6.93
10.  Zoo (CBS), 6.56
11.  Big Brother-Thursday (CBS), 6.07
12.  American Ninja Warrior (NBC), 6.06
13.  Big Brother-Wednesday (CBS), 6.02
14.  Big Brother-Sunday (CBS), 5.85
15.  Mom (CBS), 5.85
16.  America’s Got Talent, Wed.-r (NBC), 5.84
17.  NCIS: Los Angeles-r (CBS), 5.75
18.  NCIS: New Orleans-r (CBS), 5.65
19.  Dateline Mystery-Saturday (NBC), 5.46
20.  Blue Bloods-r (CBS), 5.31

(Live + same-day)
1.  True Detective* (HBO), 1.03
2.  The Haves and the Have Nots (OWN), 1.01
3.  Zoo (CBS), 1.00
4.  The Astronaut Wives Club (ABC), 0.95
5.  Under the Dome (CBS), 0.93
5.  Wayward Pines (Fox), 0.93
7.  The Whispers (ABC), 0.91
8.  Mistresses (ABC), 0.86
9.  Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family), 0.84
10.  Ballers* (HBO), 0.79

Source: Nielsen; each adults 18-49 rating equals roughly 1.27 million viewers

*airs commercial-free

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