MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- "Kings" and the Donald performed more like commoners, as NBC's drama premiere and "Celebrity Apprentice" resulted in the network finishing fourth, with a 1.8/5 rating and share in the ad-centric 18-to-49 demographic. ABC, conversely, embraced the common people -- and their problems -- with reality series such as "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (3.0/8) and dramas "Desperate Housewives" (5.0/12) and "Brothers & Sisters" (3.7/9) to win with an overall 3.5/9.
"Kings" is NBC's latest attempt to establish a Sunday-night drama and performed in between the two latest miniseries premieres. At 1.6/4, "Kings" was 23% higher than the results for February's "XIII" but 30% less than January's "Last Templar." And "Kings" wasn't the only shrinking Sunday series: "Celebrity Apprentice" (2.7/7) has fallen more than 30% since its season premiere two weeks ago.
"Celebrity Apprentice" tied CBS's "The Unit," which matched its season-high rating. "The Unit's" two program predecessors also fared well: 8 p.m.'s "The Amazing Race" (3.0/8) and 9 p.m.'s "Cold Case" (2.9/7) were both up 7% from their original-episode season averages.
Despite finishing second with an overall 2.7/7, CBS did win at 7 p.m. ("60 Minutes," 2.2/7) and tie at 8 p.m. with "Amazing Race." But "60 Minutes" clocked in with 27% fewer viewers than normal, although it was enough to beat ABC's "America's Funniest Home Videos" (holding its average with a 2.1/7) as well as newsmagazine rival "Dateline" (1.1/4) on NBC, Fox's "Hole in the Wall" (.8/3) and the CW's "Jericho" (.2/1).
Fox's third-place 2.2/6 was partly due to every show under-delivering its original-episode average (its young male viewers must have been already filling out their March Madness brackets after CBS's "Selection Show" announced the hoop pairings). Animated comedies were lifeless, with 8 p.m. sitcoms "The Simpsons" (2.8/8) and "King of the Hill" (2.4/6) tumbling 26% and 23%, respectively. The 9 p.m. hour did have Fox's highest rating, a 3.6/9 for "Family Guy," but it slipped 16%. Lead-out "American Dad" (2.9/7) was off only 3%, however.
NBC should be credited with storytelling ambition, if not ratings success for "Kings." And to be sure, spring's arrival, the basketball buzz about who will be the new NCAA king and Sunday's news narrative about AIG corporate royalty didn't help. But, the CW (which finished fifth with a .2/1 after "Moonstruck" delivered a .3/1) aside, it will be hard for the network to stay out of Nielsen's Sunday dungeon next week when the premiere fell so flat.
Last Friday's Rash Report column went to press before ratings results were available for "The Daily Show," which featured CNBC's "Mad Money" host, Jim Cramer. The Dow may be down, but the Nielsen market was bullish on "The Daily Show," which had its second-most-watched night of the year -- and 10th-most-watched ever -- with 2.3 million viewers, second only to Inauguration Day's 2.6 million. Of course, many more saw it online, and the show's site reflected that surge as well, with the highest reported traffic this year.
WHAT TO WATCH:
Monday: Remember "Drill, baby, drill," the Republican rallying cry imploring more oil exploration, especially in Alaska? Well, while the price of oil is down, interest is still up. Check out what the first great Alaskan oil-drilling adventure was like on the rebroadcast of "The Alaska Pipeline" on PBS's "Frontline."
Tuesday: After weeks of repeats, CBS's "The Mentalist" tries to psych out the competition with an original episode.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Despite a big "Dancing With the Stars" lead-in, ABC's new drama "Castle" lost more than half "Dancing's" viewers. Further demo deterioration could be a signal that "Castle" will have a limited run.
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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.