A Marvelous Day for Disney

Rash Report: Disney Scores With ABC's 'CMA Fest' and ESPN's 'Monday Night Football' and Nabs Marvel, Too

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- A cold job market, a warming planet and hot wildfires are just a few of the woes that might make viewers seek easy escapism, or even fantasy heroism to vanquish it all. Walt Disney Co. delivered in living rooms last night: It scored with ESPN's "Monday Night Football," the highest-rated show on TV last night, as well as with ABC, which won the broadcast battle with the "CMA Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock." And in the boardroom, Disney positioned itself for the big screen with its acquisition of Marvel, whose superheroes have superseded nearly every other genre in world cinema.

Brooks & Dunn perform at the 'CMA Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock.'
Brooks & Dunn perform at the 'CMA Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock.' Credit: ABC
"Monday Night Football," with Brett Favre quarterbacking the Minnesota Vikings against the Houston Texans, delivered a 3.0/9 rating and share in the ad-centric 18-to-49 demographic, which was 67% higher than the two previous "MNF" preseason games this year.

And the three-hour CMA fest's 43% jump to a 2.0/6 seemed to come at the right time for viewers, as it not only avoided last year's mistake of running against fresh fall fare but reflected country music's traditional role as a mainstream version of the blues during tough times.

The rating rise meant ABC interrupted CBS's usual Monday dominance to tie it for first place with an overall 2.0/6. That isn't bad for CBS, especially considering it ran reruns of popular comedies ("The Big Bang Theory," 2.7/7, and "Two and a Half Men," 2.4/7, were the network's highest-rated programs) and a drama ("CSI: Miami," 1.9/5). Fox and NBC tied for third, with a 1.4/4, while the CW finished fifth, with a .4/1.

As for the Mouse House buying Spider-Man and his superhero pals at Marvel, in concept it's a smart, strategic move. Disney not only knows how to leverage classic content (as any parent with a daughter going through a Disney-princess phase knows) but how to make it work worldwide. True, as some observers have noted, the most notable superheroes have already been relaunched, and many are headed toward sequels. But in a case of life imitating art, Disney is just the organization that can unmask some of Marvel's lesser-known superheroes and create new franchises for any screen.

Rash gridsEnlarge
See how all the shows did in the ratings.

Indeed, given today's headlines, there should be no problems creating story lines, as, unfortunately, we never seem to run out of problems -- or bad guys. And even Spider-Man could use some help.

Tuesday: Many kids went back to school this week, and all will be back by next. Their parents can learn too, by watching "Nova," "Nova ScienceNow" and "POV" on PBS.
Wednesday: Critics were rightfully, well, gleeful over "Glee" when the Fox dramedy made its debut last spring. Missed the pilot? Fox reruns it at 9 p.m.

"Glee" started strongly with an "Idol" lead-in. Will "So You Think You Can Dance?" which will warm the time slot for "Idol" until January, give it a prime-time push as well?

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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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