'Project Runway' Worth Fighting For

Rash Report: Lifetime Sees Record Season-Premiere Ratings

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- Bravo and Lifetime's catwalk catfight over which network would get the rights to run "Project Runway" delayed the debut of the show's sixth season until last night, when the victor, Lifetime, premiered the program. Like all reality TV, the conflict seemed to only increase audience interest, as "Runway" ran away with the top rating in cable and beat all but two network shows as well.

'Project Runway'
'Project Runway' Credit: Lifetime
Delivering a 1.8/6 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic, "Runway" was only beat by another reality show, CBS's "Big Brother," (2.2/8) and another program where contestants are not only encouraged, but required, to get in their opponent's face: Fox's telecast of the NFL exhibition game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts (2.4/8). (Fox won the broadcast battle with the same overall rating, followed by CBS, 1.8/6; NBC, 1.1/4; ABC, .9/3; and the CW, .8/3.)

"Runway's" Lifetime launch was its highest-rated premier yet and was more than double last year's Bravo bow. And just like the fashion world itself, "Runway" has a Lifetime line of knockoffs: A two-hour "Project Runway: All Stars" led into the "Runway" premiere and rated a 1.3/4, which in itself was the ninth-most-fashionable show in the demo on TV last night, out-rating repeats of notable network shows such as ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" (.8/3) and "30 Rock" (1.2/3). And after the designers squared off, the shapely models who wear the clothes had a reality show of their own, "Models of the Runway," which strutted to a 21st place .8/3.

All the focus on fashion and models continues the cultural contradiction of a fashion-design reality show becoming a hit during a decade when casual Friday went weeklong. But then again, "Project Runway" really isn't about haute couture, but hot culture. And despite cooling its heels due to the off-air spat that seemed to have its own reality show diva moments, the "Project Runway" franchise seemed to have been worth fighting for.

WHAT TO WATCH:
Friday: Friday night lights, without the West Texas charm: The Dallas Cowboys play the Tennessee Titans in exhibition football on Fox.
Saturday: Catch some of the world's fastest athletes (OK, when we're talking Jamaican jet Usain Bolt, catch isn't the right word) ... Watch some of the world's fastest athletes at the World Track and Field Championships on Vs.
Sunday: What a night for spectacular special effects! Only not about superheroes, but Mother Nature: PBS programs "Nature" and has a preview of Ken Burns' "National Parks: America's Best Idea," and Discovery runs the remarkable "Planet Earth" series in its entirety.

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

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Often unattractive controversies have dogged beauty queens recently. Will the tabloid interest translate into more viewers for NBC's "Miss Universe 2008?"

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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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