This is a continuation of ice hockey's hot season on the network, as what began as a picture-perfect outdoor game in snowy Buffalo, N.Y., on New Year's Day continues in sunny June with a finals that is already pacing ahead of the previous two years -- even without the clinching game, which is usually the highest-rated. Averaging a 2.1/7 for games 3-5 (cable network Versus covers the first two games), this year's Pittsburgh/Detroit delivery has already more than doubled last year's 1.0/3 for Anaheim/Ottawa, as well as the 1.5/5 for a more memorable 2006 Cup between Carolina and Edmonton.
Almost as close as the hockey game was the Nielsen ratings race. CBS finished second with an overall 2.5/7, followed by Fox's 2.4/7 and ABC's 2.1/6. The CW, airing reruns of "Gossip Girl" (.6/2) and "One Tree Hill" (.5/1), finished fifth with a .6/2.
Most disappointing for ABC is that it finished fourth with all-original programming. Or, in last night's case, rediscovered programming, as after four years of hibernation "The Mole" re-emerged to a 1.9/5 premiere program delivery, which was last in its 10 p.m. ET timeslot. The most recent run was during the regular season, and four years is a lifetime in today's fragmented and fractured media landscape, so comparisons aren't clean. But the debut's delivery was only half of 2004's "Celebrity Mole Yucatan," and was down from the 2.2/6 for a two-hour "Bachelorette" lead-in.
The summertime pattern of sitcoms repeating better than dramas continued on CBS and Fox. The latter's reruns of "Bones" (1.8/6) and "House" (3.0/8) indexed at 60% and 54%, respectively, to regular-season original-episode averages, while CBS's "CSI: Miami" (2.6/7) held 58% of its regular-season average. The four CBS sitcoms, meanwhile, averaged about two-thirds retention, as "The Big Bang Theory" (1.9/6), "How I Met Your Mother" (2.2/7), "Two and a Half Men" (3.1/9) and "Rules of Engagement" (2.7/7) aired reruns.
Sometimes, however, it's not summer reality and repeats but live TV that compels consumption, even if it means some bleary-eyed sports fans had to queue up for coffee an extra time today.
WHAT TO WATCH:
Tuesday: It may not be a summer-blockbuster popcorn flick, but TCM examines Asian images in American cinema in the network's "Race and Hollywood" series.
Wednesday: It's not too late to jump on the bandwagon! Game Six of the Stanley Cup Finals starts at 8 p.m. on NBC.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Monday night's ice yields to Tuesday night's fire, as Fox's "Hell's Kitchen" should continue to be one of the highest-rated summer series.
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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 media analysis for Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis. For more, see rashreport.com.