So absent any special Memorial Day programming, network TV slid into summer with a grid replete with repeats (CBS, Fox and the CW filled their slates with reruns) and reality (all of ABC's and two-thirds of NBC's schedule).
Looking for laughs
Sitcoms generally repeat better than dramas, with CBS as a prime prime-time example: The four sitcoms averaged two-thirds of the original episode average in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic, as "Two and a Half Men" was the highest-rated show of the night, delivering a 3.3/8 rating and share in the Nielsen "Fast Affiliate Ratings" (final Live + Same Day ratings are holiday delayed). Lead-out "Rules of Engagement" had a 2.8/7, while the night started with a 2.0/6 for "Big Bang Theory" and a 2.3/7 for "How I Met Your Mother." CBS's "CSI: Miami," conversely, indexed lower, like most dramas, delivering a 2.0/5, which was 44% of its first-run average. For the night, CBS was first with a 2.4/7.
Second-place ABC (1.9/5), on the other hand, combined the common summer strategies by running a reality repeat, as "Vacation Swap" started off with a 1.5/4. This was followed by a 2.0/5 for "The Bachelorette," which might pine for its springtime coupling with lead-in "Dancing With the Stars" this summer, as the show fell 31% from last week's "Live + Same Day" number.
Fox went all-reality with the time-period debut of "So You Think You Can Dance," a summer show with a tone to match the frivolity of summer movies. But it, too, missed the immediacy of the end of the regular season, slipping 49% compared to last week's "Live + Same Day" rating to a 1.8/5, which matches Fox's overall nightly number.
NBC toed past Fox's dancers with its "American Gladiators," which had a 1.9/5. Lead-out "Dateline," however, slipped to a 1.6/4, putting NBC into fourth place with a 1.7/5.
And the CW, with a target audience that will be especially elusive during the barefoot months, ran repeats of "Gossip Girl" (.6/2) and "One Tree Hill" (.5/1), which was also the overall nightly delivery.
So, overall, at least from a programming perspective, it was a forgettable Memorial Day. This was perhaps a missed opportunity, at least for the networks to lead society, as those who have served the nation surely merited some space on the nation's airwaves.
WHAT TO WATCH:
Tuesday: Much was written about CNN smartly signing Newsweek international editor Fareed Zakaria to host a weekly show on international affairs. PBS, meanwhile, goes about its mission, including the best news magazine on TV, "Frontline," which this week explores cross-border human smuggling.
Wednesday: NBC's "Last Comic Standing" stands nearly alone as a reality show with real talent.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Fox's midseason monster (and at times monstrous) hit, "Moment of Truth," returns. Absent "American Idol" as a lead-in, will the viewers?
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NOTE: A share is a percentage of TV households that have their TV sets on at a given time. A rating is a percentage of all TV households, whether or not their sets are turned on. For example, a 1.0 rating is 1% of the total U.S. households with a TV. 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 a commercial minute, live-plus-three-day viewing basis.)
John Rash is senior VP-director of broadcast negotiations for Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis. For more, see rashreport.com.