Good Grief: 'Great Pumpkin' Down 18% in Key Demo

Rash Report: New Viewing Tradition -- Reality TV -- leads NBC to Win

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- Nostalgia ain't what it used to be. "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" -- a TV touchstone for millions of a certain age, had its annual run last night and was 18% lower rated in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic as it delivered a 2.8/8 rating and share. Instead, it was beaten, or just beat, two shows that may be indicative of the here and now, but are far less likely to be watched by generations to come: Two-hour episodes of NBC's weight-loss reality show "The Biggest Loser" (3.7/10) and Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance" (2.5/6). (CBS and the CW ran reruns of "NCIS," 3.3/9 and "90210," .6/2.)

'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown'
'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown' Credit: ABC
Long a Halloween viewing tradition, "Great Pumpkin" not only wasn't so great in the demo, but fared poorly in the younger demographics that should create media memories -- and a new generation of evergreen fans. Kids 6-11 were down 18% to a 4.3/13 and teens fell 42% to a 1.5/8. And their moms, who usually sit down in front of the set with junior and sis as a rare all-family viewing event were also off, with women 18-34 falling 14% to a 3.0/8 and women 18-49 down an even sharper 19% to a 3.5/9. (Of course, one major market, New York, could only watch Mayor Bloomberg debate his rival, as local ABC News pre-empted Peanuts. "Pumpkin" airs in New York tonight at 8 p.m. instead.)

So it wasn't just Linus who was alone in the pumpkin patch. But where'd everyone go? While kids 6-11 overwhelmingly watched Charlie Brown, "Biggest Loser" had almost half the viewership with a 2.1/7 in the kids' demo. As for teens, well, maybe it's just uncool to watch what your little brother (or your mom) do, as "Great Pumpkin" was beaten by, of all shows, "NCIS," which had a 1.9/6 in that demo. "Biggest Loser" tied and "So You Think You Can Dance" came close with a 1.4/5.

With women 18-34, it was "Dance" (3.6/10) and "Loser" (4.2/11) that easily beat "Pumpkin" and for women 18-49, "Biggest Loser" (4.9/12) was 40% higher rated than the Peanuts special.

The next hour dispensed with the trip down memory lane altogether (that is except for the CBS and CW repeats of "NCIS: Los Angeles," 2.1/5 and "Melrose Place," .4/1). "Biggest Loser" won that hour, too, above Fox's "Dance" and ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" (3.0/7), which was a tenth of a ratings point ahead of its season to date average.

And at 10 p.m. the only reminiscence was from the crew investigating the latest gruesome crime on "The Forgotten," ABC's new police procedural that was remembered by enough viewers to get a rare ratings win with a 2.0/5. That's mostly because the usual timeslot victor, CBS's "The Good Wife" (1.8/5) was a repeat, and because NBC's "Jay Leno Show" (1.8/5) seems like one, as the format and feel evoke his "Tonight Show" days.

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

Still, "Leno" matched last week's delivery and was up 38% from Monday night's season-tying low. Like those nostalgic for classic TV such as "Great Pumpkin," NBC may be pining, too, as on the same night last year the show that ran in "Leno's" slot, "Law and Order: SVU," won the hour with nearly double the audience, a 3.5/9.

For the night, NBC finished first with an overall 3.1/8, followed by ABC (2.6/7), Fox (2.5/6), CBS (2.4/6) and the CW (.5.1).

WHAT TO WATCH:
Wednesday: Speaking of nostalgia, it's the boys of summer in the fall classic as the World Series between the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies begins on Fox.
Thursday: The memory available on your DVR, as the first night of sweeps brings all new episodes, as well as Game 2 of the World Series.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Sorry, Philly fans, but the Yankees (who beat my Minnesota Twins in every regular season and playoff game this year) will win in six games.

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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's Compass Media, Minneapolis. For more, see rashreport.com.

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