MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- Genres reflecting their relative ratings popularity told the tale of Monday night's -- and all season's -- ratings race. Reality TV led ABC to a first-place 4.6/12 rating and share in the ad-centric 18-to-49 demographic, as "Dancing With the Stars" shone as TV's top-rated show Monday night, with a 5.3/14. "Dancing," however, had 13% less spring in its step than last week's program premiere, but the news was better for ABC at 10 p.m., with new drama "Castle," which eroded "only" 3% from last week, to a 2.9/8.
Drama has been the second-highest-rated genre this season and was again on Monday night, as Fox (4.3/11) finished second. "House" (4.9/13) fell 11% against "Dancing," but "24" (3.7/9) recovered to hold 97% of its original-episode average.
Sitcoms -- or what's left of the shrinking genre -- have lagged in third place. But a notable sitcom success story has been the CBS Monday-night lineup, with creative and commercial comedic breakthroughs showing how the genre can still perform. Generally, all four kept 'em laughing despite the return of "Dancing" to the schedule. First-hour comedies "The Big Bang Theory" (3.7/11) and "How I Met Your Mother" (3.8/10) were off only 3% and 7%, respectively, as both finished third in their time slots. "Two and a Half Men" (4.8/12) had only 6% fewer adults, and "Rules of Engagement" (4.0/10) actually grew 5%, as both finished second in their time periods. Finishing first at 10 p.m. wasn't a comedy, however, but the network's sole Monday drama, "CSI: Miami" (3.8/10). Yet overall, reflecting its reliance on the sitcom genre, CBS finished third with a 4.0/11.
Of course, it often seems the genre generating the most programming (if not the lowest ratings) are ubiquitous repeats. NBC was replete with them, as "Chuck" (1.3/4) and "Medium" (1.4/4) sandwiched "Heroes" (1.1/3). With "Chuck" and "Medium" off 48% and "Heroes" collapsing to only 28% of its original-episode average, it is no surprise NBC (1.3/3) finished just ahead of the CW (1.2/3) for fourth place.
As for the CW, it bucked the drama genre trend by finishing fifth, but that's a normal ranking for the network that focuses on young women. What should worry the CW is that many of its young loyalists may be in an "out of sight, out of mind" mentality, as the 1.2/3 for "Gossip Girl" and "One Tree Hill" -- which ran fresh episodes after five weeks of repeats -- was 20% and 25% lower than previous original-episode averages.
WHAT TO WATCH:
Tuesday: After weeks of repeats, CBS's "The Mentalist" tries to psych out the competition with an original episode.
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 the debut of "Better off Ted" on ABC at 9:30 p.m.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Sure, Fox's "American Idol" will win, but it will be a more interesting ratings race with a new episode of "The Mentalist" and the "Dancing with the Stars" dance-off elimination round.
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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.