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.
With Fox switching to repeats on Tuesday night following last week’s season finale of MasterChef, most of the original competition posted ratings gains. NBC’s America’s Got Talent (3.1/8 in 18-49, 11.6 million viewers) was up 11% from last Tuesday and was once again the night’s highest-rated program. Its lead-in, It’s Worth What? (1.1/3), was flat. NBC won Tuesday in 18-49 and total viewers. ABC’s Take the Money & Run (1.6/4) at 9 PM was up 14% from last week, drama Combat Hospital (1.0/3) at 10 PM was up 10%. Still, they were outrated handily by a Wipeout rerun (2.0/6) at 8 PM, ABC’s top program of the night. Like Fox, CBS aired all reruns.
Fox’s MasterChef ended its season last night with a two-hour finale, averaging a 2.6/8 among 18-49. That was up 30% from last year’s two-hour finale on Sept. 15. The 8 PM episode drew a 2.4/8 and 5.9 million viewers, while the actual finale at 9 PM rose to 2.8/8 and 7.3 million viewers, up 40% from last year’s final episode in the demo and hitting series highs both in 18-49 and total viewers. Fox won the night in 18-49. NBC (2.2/6, 8.1 million) was No. 2 in 18-49 and tops in viewers, led by America’s Got Talent (2.7/8), which was down 7% from its fast national 18-49 result last week. (The reality series always picks up a tenth or two in the finals.) Its lead-in, reality show It’s Worth What? (1.0/3), was down 9%. With a Wipeout rerun as a lead-in this week vs. an original last Tuesday, ABC’s reality series Take the Money & Run (1.4/4) tumbled 22% to a series low. Drama Combat Hospital (0.9/3) was even with its fast national rating from last week. (Because the show slipped in the finals last Tuesday, Combat Hospital was technically up a tenth from last week.)
Fox (2.6/8 among adults 18-49, 6.2 million viewers) won Tuesday in 18-49 with Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen (2.7/9, 6.3 million) and MasterChef (2.5/7, 6.1 million), both flat vs. last week in the demo, while MasterChef drew its largest audience ever. The other originals last night were all down vs. last Tuesday: ABC’s Wipeout (1.9/6), Take the Money & Run (1.8/5) and Combat Hospital (0.9/3) were all down a tenth. NBC’ America’s Got Talent (2.9/8) was down 6% to its lowest-rated Tuesday episode this summer but still ranked as the top program of the night in 18-49 and total viewers; It’s Worth What? (1.1/4) was down 8%. For the night, NBC (2.3/7, 8.9 million) was second in 18-49 behind Fox and No. 1 in viewers. CBS (1.4/4, 8.2 million) aired all reruns but still managed to finish a close second in total viewers.
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