This Week, We Liked to Watch Singers

Rash Report: 'Idol,' 'Grammys' Lead Top 10 Shows

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- It was a bad week for background music, as on Tuesday, Muzak filed for bankruptcy. But it was a great week for foreground music, as two episodes of Fox's "American Idol" and the Grammy Awards led the hit parade of this week's top 10 programs based on the ad-centric 18-to-49 demographic.

Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, M.I.A. and Kanye West perform at the Grammys.
Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, M.I.A. and Kanye West perform at the Grammys. Credit: AP
The Wednesday version of "Idol" was No. 1 with a bullet, delivering a 9.5/23 rating and share, a bit above Tuesday's second-place 9.2/24. Both were above CBS's telecast of the Grammy Awards, which was embarrassed a few years back when it ran against "Idol" and lost. The Grammys were up 14% from last year to a third-place 7.4/18.

The professional and personal dramas about many musicians probably peeled away some viewers from ABC melodrama "Desperate Housewives," which slipped 16% from its original-episode average. But the 4.9/11 still solidified seventh place for the week.

And indeed, the back stories of those front and center at the Grammys made it more compelling. They included "Idol" alum Jennifer Hudson, still reeling from her family's terrible tragedy, getting the crowd's (and the country's) cheers for winning best R&B album.

But later the Grammy buzz turned bad, as the details of the domestic dispute between Rihanna and Chris Brown spilled out. Brown's brawling behavior then became an image problem for Fox's NAACP Image Award, as it looked ludicrous that he was nominated for an award. He didn't win, and neither did the Image Awards, as Nielsen fast-affiliate ratings indicate the broadcast's 1.4/4 was fourth in its time slot.

Of course, that ratings result was also due to a big night even by Thursday standards. ABC's intertwining "Grey's Anatomy" (5.9/14) and "Private Practice" (5.8/15) story lines resulted in ranks of fourth and fifth, respectively. They also may have held down CBS's "CSI," which was off 9% from its original-episode average but still was sixth for the week, with a 4.9/12. And NBC's "The Office" made 9 p.m. the big night's big hour, as it was the third show in the time slot to hit the top 10 with a ninth-place 4.6/11.

But it wasn't just Thursday and Sunday when ratings sang this week. Monday saw a series high for "The Big Bang Theory" (4.5/10, 10th), which exploded due to shifting slots to be the lead-out for CBS's hit sitcom "Two and a Half Men" (eighth, 4.8/11). But despite making the top 10, neither was the most-watched program overall Monday night. That was the first presidential press conference by Barack Obama, which was also the most-watched program of the week, seen by more than 49.5 million people on eight networks (cumulative 18-to-49-demo delivery is not available).

WHAT TO WATCH:
Friday: Once-buzzed-about "Dollhouse" somehow ended up in Fox's doghouse: The Joss Whedon ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") production has been relegated to a tough (if not impossible) time slot for reaching its intended young-adult audience.
Saturday: With nearly all repeats, network TV will break your heart on Valentine's Day, so cable offers love stories such as "Love is a Many Splendored Thing" on TCM and "A Walk to Remember" on ABC Family.
Sunday: February is a big month for big events, but most -- such as next week's Academy Awards -- are the culmination of a season. The Daytona 500, conversely, kicks off one, as Nascar's version of the Super Bowl rolls on Fox at 2 p.m. After the big race, check out "The Amazing Race," which begins its 14th season on CBS at 8 p.m.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Will "Amazing Race" hold up as well as CBS's other reality franchise, "Survivor," whose 18th season premiere last night (4.4/13) was just below season 17's 4.5/12?

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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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