MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- Maybe Americans were so mad about the song and dance from AIG's CEO that they tuned out the song-and-dance reality shows designed to get away from the world's woes. Whatever the reason, both Fox's "American Idol" and ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" results show -- as well as NBC's weight-loss reality show "Biggest Loser" -- lost viewers last night. But then again, so did CBS's dramas, which returned from two weeks of repeats and delivered their lowest original-episode ratings this season.
"Idol," for instance, was down 18% from its season average. But the 8.0/22 for a two-hour episode still gave Fox an easy Tuesday win.
ABC, which finished first on Monday night with the season's first dance, fell to fourth with an overall 2.2/6, as a "Dancing With the Stars" recap and results show got a 2.7/7, only 51% of Monday's premiere. That was twice the drop-off from last spring's first results show. And the recap show (1.7/5) barely showed up itself, finishing fourth in the time slot.
That allowed NBC to finish second with a 3.3/9, as "The Biggest Loser" (3.2/9) combined with "Law and Order: SVU." But "Biggest Loser," too, lost viewers, slipping 16% from its season average.
Despite the Nielsen reality check for "Idol," "Dancing" and "Biggest Loser," they still have a competitive edge on dramas this year, in part because they avoid the ruinous rerun cycle that takes viewers out of regular prime-time patterns. Third-place CBS (2.9/8) is a case in point, as despite spiking from last week's repeats, "NCIS" (3.1/9), "The Mentalist" (3.2/8) and "Without a Trace" (2.5/7) all delivered original-episode lows.
The CW ran both an original ("Reaper," .8/2) and repeat ("90210," .3/1) to finish fifth, with a .6/2.
Overall, it was a down night. The only other show to match its original-episode average was ABC's "Primetime: What Would You Do?" The series asks "what people actually do in the face of everyday dilemmas that test their character and values," and earned a 2.3/7, higher than any week since mid-February.
(All based on Nielsen fast-affiliate ratings, with final live-plus-same-day data delayed until Thursday.)
WHAT TO WATCH:
Wednesday: Given the outrage over the obscene and absurd AIG bonuses, it's either the worst or the perfect time for a sitcom premiere that centers on a "morally questionable" company. Judge for yourself with "Better off Ted's" debut on ABC at 9:30 p.m.
Thursday: March Madness begins on CBS! Mad about wall-to-wall basketball? No worries: ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" and "Private Practice," as well as NBC's "The Office" and "30 Rock," are all first run.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
"Better of Ted" would be better off with a better time slot than following "Scrubs," so expect low ratings.
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NOTE: All ratings based on adults 18-49. A share is a percentage of adults 18-49 who have their TV sets on at a given time. A rating is a percentage of all adults 18-49, whether or not their sets are turned on. For example, a 1.0 rating is 1% of the total U.S. adults 18-49 population with TVs. Ratings quoted in this column are based on live-plus-same-day unless otherwise noted. (Many ad deals have been negotiated on the basis of commercial-minute, live-plus-three-days viewing.)
John Rash is senior VP-director of media analysis for Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis. For more, see rashreport.com.