'Idol' Slide Continues, but Fox Again Wins the Night

Rash Report: CW Stays Out of the Ratings Cellar on Back of 'Top Model'

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- Forget falling hemlines. It's falling ratings two fashion shows had to watch out for last night, as the CW's "America's Next Top Model" and Bravo's "Make Me a Supermodel" had their season premieres. Amid grim economic news -- including at several high-end retailers that use supermodels to sell -- it was unclear if penny-pinching viewers would still make haute couture hot culture.

'America's Next Top Model'
'America's Next Top Model' Credit: The CW
They did. Sure, most were wearing pajamas and not Prada, but both shows held recent series-premiere averages. The 12th season premiere of "Top Model" delivered a 1.8/5 rating and share in the ad-centric 18-to-49 demographic, which was up 6% from its first fall showing and just a tenth of a ratings point below last spring's premiere. And "Make Me a Supermodel" held its first season's premiere rating of a 0.5/2, indicating that aspirational modeling shows are still in fashion.

But of course both lost badly to the show that has become TV's version of comfortable khakis, Fox's "American Idol," despite its midseason slide, this week down 22% from its season average to a 7.8/22. Lead-out "Lie to Me" (3.7/9) was off by a similar amount. While this was good enough for second place in the time slot, it's only 47% of "Idol" watchers, making it likely Fox will once again try a new show behind "Idol's" still powerful programming launch pad.

Despite "Idol" and "Lie to Me" down demographically, Fox finished its usual first with an overall 5.7/15. The CW, conversely, had an uncharacteristic fourth-place finish with "Top Model's" 1.8/5. This put NBC in last place with a 1.5/4. The network had hoped for better with the return of "Knight Rider," but even though 1980s shoulder pads are reported to be back in style, the decade's TV hits are harder to recycle. Few seemed to notice that last night was "Rider's" series finale: It didn't drive any viewing spikes, sputtering a bit below its season average to a 1.7/5. "Life," which also probably won't live on-air next season, ran a repeat (1.2/3), as did "Law and Order" (1.6/4).

CBS's third-place 2.2/6 was also reflective of running reruns, as "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (1.4/4) and "Gary Unmarried" (1.5/4) were each off about a third while "Criminal Minds" (2.3/6) and "CSI: NY" (2.7/8) tumbled 39% and 23%, respectively.

While "CSI: NY" was down, it wasn't out, as it not only beat the repeat of "Law and Order," but an original episode of "Life on Mars" (1.9/5), which is one of the reasons ABC announced it was canceling the remake of the British drama. No such problems for "Lost" (4.9/12), however, as it was a tenth of a ratings point above its season average. And 9 p.m.'s original episode was three times higher rated that 8 p.m.'s "enhanced episode" (1.6/4).

Overall, ABC's drama lineup finished third with a 2.8/8, which wasn't bad for a night when reality TV in general and modeling shows in particular were in fashion.

Thursday: New episodes of NBC's smartest sitcoms, "The Office" and "30 Rock." Friday: With low ratings and NBC making room for Jay Leno in prime time next season, "Friday Night Lights" will most likely go dark. Catch it while you can at 9 p.m.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: An off night for ABC, with "Grey's Anatomy" and "Private Practice" repeats. Instead, CBS ("CSI") and Fox ("Idol") will battle for first place.

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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.

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