What do American Idol, Dancing With the Stars, Survivor, Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, Hell’s Kitchen, Big Brother, So You Think You Can Dance, America’s Got Talent and Wipeout have in common? They are broadcast TV’s biggest reality franchises of the past decade. And they all launched in the summer. Summer used to be a time for the networks to try out innovative reality formats that had never been done on the Big 4 broadcast nets (ballroom dancing or singing competitions, shows about castaways on an island or strangers locked in a house) or had been gone from primetime for a long time (game shows). Now the broadcast networks are throwing on retreads of over-exposed formats from June through August, so it’s no surprise that nothing has stuck since Wipeout launched on ABC in June 2008. A slew of newcomers came and went over the past three months: ABC’s Expedition Impossible, Take the Money & Run, Karaoke Battle USA and 101 Ways To Leave a Game Show; CBS’ Same Name, NBC’s Love In the Wild and the similar It’s Worth What?; and Buried Treasure on Fox. The only new offering on broadcast to show a pulse this summer was ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, helped by a solid lead-in and the fact that it is an offshoot of a popular franchise. Things looked as bleak on the scripted side, with ABC’s Combat Hospital, Fox’s sketch comedy In the Flow With Affion Crockett and NBC’s burnoff Love Bites barely registering.
Fox’s sketch comedy series In the Flow With Affion Crockett, originally slated to premiere in midseason, had a quiet launch last night with two back-to-back episodes at 9 PM (1.3/3 among adults 18-49) and 9:30 PM (1.0/3), ranking below the repeats of The Simpsons (1.4/4) and Family Guy (1.7/5) that preceded them. ABC’s I.AM.FIRST: Science Is Rock ‘N Roll special was down 60% from what an America’s Funniest Home Videos rerun averaged in the 7 PM hour last week and probably dragged down the CMA Music Festival (1.6/5, 7 million viewers). The music special was down from last year’s telecast, which aired on Sept. 1 (Wednesday). However, total audience-wise, the festival was up by 1 million viewers. Because of a PGA Championship overrun (1.7/6), CBS’ lineup slid by more than an hour. 60 Minutes (2.0/6) kicked things off at 8:05 PM, followed by Big Brother (2.5/6), which was down 14% from last week, and Same Name (1.5/4), which gave up some of the gains it posted last week, down 6%. CBS (1.9/5, 7.3 million) still easily won the night in both 18-49 and total viewers. NBC again aired back-to-back episodes of The Marriage Ref, both averaging a 0.9/2. The first one was flat and the second down a tenth from last week.
CBS easily won Sunday night with the two highest-rated programs of the night in adults 18-49: Big Brother (2.8/9, 7.8 million) at 8 PM, which was even with last week, and Same Name (1.6/4, 5.1 million) at 9 PM, which was up a whopping 23%. With 60 Minutes (1.2/4, 8.7 million) and a CSI: Miami rerun (1.2/3, 5 million) solid as bookends (60 Minutes was the most-watched program of the night), CBS dominated the night with an average of 1.7/2 in 18-49 and 6.4 million viewers. Also worth noting is the solid performance of a rerun of ABC’s America’s Funniest Home Videos at 7 PM (1.3/4, 5.3 million), which drew the third-highest ratings for the night in 18-49 and total viewers, significantly outperforming the Ty’s Great British Adventure special (1.0/3, 3.8 million) that followed it on ABC. Fox aired comedy reruns leading into the 2011 Teen Choice Awards (1.1/3), hosted by The Big Bang Theory star Kaley Cuoco, which were down 27% in the adults 18-49 demo though up 4% in the core teen demo (2.8/8) to post the award show’s best teen numbers in three years. NBC aired low-rated reruns (Dateline, 0.5/2 & It’s Worth What?, 0.7/2) followed by two back-to-back episodes of The Marriage Ref at 9 PM (0.9/2) and 10 PM (1.0/3). The first episode was even and the second up a tenth from last week’s show, which …
For the second time in the past couple of months, President Barack Obama interrupted broadcast networks’ Sunday programming for an unscheduled primetime address. In May, it was about the killing of Osama bin Laden; last night, it was to announce that a debt deal has finally been reached. ABC, CBS and NBC all cut away from their regular programming for about six minutes between 8:40-8:50 PM ET to carry Obama’s speech, but the interruption is not expected to have a major effect on the primetime ratings for last night. CBS (1.6/5 among adults 18-49, 6.6 million viewers in the preliminary, not time zone-adjusted ratings) topped the night in both 18-49 and total viewers, paced by Big Brother (2.8/9 from 8-9 PM, including Obama’s address on the East Coast). That was up 12% from last week. From 9-10 PM, the conclusion of Big Brother and Same Name averaged a 1.4/4, down 7% from Same Name‘s rating last week. ABC’s The Bachelorette: Men Tell All special drew 1.6/4, down 45% vs. its last installment last year, which aired on Monday. NBC’s The Marriage Ref (0.9/2) was down 10%.
CBS’ Big Brother (2.4/7 among adults 18-49) topped the mostly rerun competition on Sunday in the 18-49 demographic. It was even with last week. But CBS’ new reality series Same Name (1.5/4), featuring celebrities and ordinary people sharing the same moniker, was off to a slow start at 9 PM. It held onto a so-so 63% of its Big Brother lead-in and was down 6% from the premiere in the same slot of the long-forgotten There Goes the Neighborhood two summers ago. CBS (1.5/5, 6.4 million) still won the night, but in the demo it barely edged Fox (1.4/4), which aired comedy repeats. NBC’s Dateline NBC (1.0/3) posted its highest rating since May, while, following an America’s Got Talent repeat (1.1/3), The Marriage Ref (1.0/3) was even with last week. NBC finished third for the night with a 1.0/3, followed by ABC (0.9/3), which aired reruns.
CBS’ Big Brother will keep its traditional three-nights-a-week airing pattern this summer with Julie Chen returning as host. It will premiere on Thursday, July 7 and will run Wednesday at 8 PM, Thursdays at 9 PM (live eviction show) and Sundays at 8 PM. On Sundays, Big Brother will run in a block with another reality series, newcomer Same Name, for most of its run. Same Name, about celebrities trading places with total strangers who just happen to share the same name, will premiere July 24.
Additionally, CBS announced that Neil Patrick Harris will return as host of the 65th annual Tony Awards on June 12, confirming Mike Fleming’s scoop from last week. It also said that Wayne Brady will host the 38th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards on June 19 and Michael Chiklis will emcee the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on July 4.
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