At least if Nielsen is the judge -- and the jury of peers is all teens. The annual awards show, in which winners don't receive a statue, but rather a surfboard, had struggled as teens themselves went surfing --- on the web, that is -- and drifted away from broadcast TV. But it was high tide again on Monday night, with 77% more teens watching than last year, as the teen rating and share crested to a 3.9/14, which was the best since 2004.
'HSM' spinoff a dud
Not surprisingly, it was the highest-rated show in the teen demo for the night, and it beat every program during its two-hour run. This includes a show about and for teens, ABC's "High School Musical: Get in the Picture," which was out of the picture from 8-9 p.m. ET, delivering a teen rating and share of .5/2. This put it behind not only the "Teen Choice Awards," but also a two-hour "American Gladiators" on NBC, which fought for a 1.2/4, and even the teenagers (going on 29) in "Gossip Girl," which delivered a .8/3 on the CW.
And, perhaps most surprising, "High School Musical: Get in the Picture" lost to the men acting like teens on CBS's "Big Bang Theory" and "How I Met Your Mother," which each scored a .7/2.
Of course, CBS usually does well with teens' parents (or grandparents), and last night was no exception. Five programs over three hours equaled No. 1 in Monday's media math, as the network delivered a 2.3/7 in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic. Repeats of CBS sitcoms "Big Bang" and "How I Met Your Mother" (2.2/7 each) as well as "Two and a Half Men" (3.0/9) and "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (2.4/7) ran into a rerun of drama "CSI: Miami" (2.1/6).
NBC was second with a 2.0/6, as "Nashville Star" (1.8/5) was in near-perfect harmony with the 2.0/6 for "Gladiators."
Fox followed with a 1.5/5, as enough parents followed their teens (and no doubt a lot of tweens) watching the "Teen Choice Awards."
Young CW viewers distracted
For the CW, however, it didn't work out quite as well. Maybe it's because teens would rather have their parents see the fresh faces winning awards, as the concept and the construct of an award show reassures them that the kids are all right (as they, or The Who, might have said back in the day). Maybe it's just as well, lest parents peek into their kids' inner lives, or at least their TV lives, through "Gossip Girl" (.5/2) and "One Tree Hill," which delivered a .4/1, which was also the network's nightly average.
ABC delivered a fourth-place 1.0/3, as "High School Musical" wasn't only uncool with teens, but mom and dad as well: It posted a .8/3, the lowest adult 18-49 delivery for any show on the Big Four networks, followed by a 1.0/3 for "Wanna Bet?" and a 1.2/3 for "The Mole."
As for "High School Musical: Get in the Picture," the disappointment wasn't just commercial: The Jonas Brothers, who starred in "Camp Rock" -- this year's version of "High School Musical" -- supplanted the show not only on the Disney Channel and ABC, but at the "Teen Choice" podium as well, as the brothers walked away with six surfboards, the most of any individual or group.
But hang loose, ABC (as a Hawaiian surfer might say). Monday wasn't a good night for surfboards, but Tuesday should be a great night for "Wipeout."
WHAT TO WATCH:
Tuesday: Remember the days when independent TV stations could schedule a "John Wayne Week"? Those days may be gone, but AMC reinstates, if not reinvents, the movie event with a week's worth of Duke: "El Dorado," "Hatari," "Rio Bravo," "Hondo" and the seminal "The Searchers" run throughout the day into prime time.
Wednesday: ABC, the "Olympic Network" during the Jim McKay days of the '70s and '80s, will yield to NBC, this generation's Olympic network. But that doesn't mean it has to yield in news coverage of the world's most populous country. Underrated journalist Bob Woodruff, who lived and worked in China, takes a look at the rise of the country in "Primetime: China Inside Out: Bob Woodruff Reports."
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Will "I Survived a Japanese Game Show" survive its recent ratings slide, especially after it initially thrived as a lead-out to summer hit "Wipeout?" Ratings for Tuesday's two-hour finale will help decide.
~ ~ ~
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 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.