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Viewers Break Up With 'Jon and Kate'

Rash Report: Reality Show Returns With Fewer Viewers

By Published on . 1

MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- "What do women want?" wondered Sigmund Freud. Of course, to be fair, he should have asked the same of men. Had he been around in the era of reality TV, he probably would have at least been able to answer "to not watch TV together."

'Jon & Kate Plus 8'
'Jon & Kate Plus 8' Credit: TLC
Monday's schedule, for instance, featured Jon and Kate, breaking up. To some degree, viewers were also breaking up with "Jon and Kate Plus Eight," the TLC reality show that showed up at the top of the ratings race with its season premiere and the last time it ran an original, when the couple announced their irreconcilable differences.

The differences in the show -- and the way viewers may now feel like voyeurs -- led some to a trial separation as well. Last night's two half-hours delivered a 1.8/5 and 1.9/5 rating and share in the ad-centric 18-to-49 demographic, which was about 38% of the break-up breakthrough delivery of 4.9/14 on June 22. That episode topped even the season premiere, which delivered a 4.6/12 on May 25 and followed months of the couple being followed by the paparazzi after tabloids inferred infidelity by both Jon and Kate.

Both men and women viewers seem to have a rocky relationship with the show, as the drop-off was relatively similar between the genders. But "Jon and Kate's" gender gap is really a gulf, as the male/female split was 25/75.

There was slightly more gender balance for other relationship reality shows last night. Fox ran a rerun of "More to Love" (1.1/3), its plus-sized dating show that slimmed down due to its repeat status. But the show did weigh in with a 44/56 male/female split, which is probably more reflective of Fox's regular audience than more males taking an interest in the genre. Paired with a "House" repeat, Fox delivered a third-place 1.3/4.

More typical is the two-thirds-female viewership for ABC's "Dating in the Dark," (1.6/5) which went out solo instead of as a "Bachelorette" lead-in, and lost a third of the viewers who tuned in last week. (A 9 p.m. repeat registered only a 1.0/3.)

"Dating in the Dark" was coupled with "Sugarland: Live on Inside," which featured the singing couple of Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush. But what's balanced musically wasn't demographically: The 1.0/4 had a 38/62 female focus, as ABC fell to fourth with an overall 1.2/4.

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

So what can bring Venus and Mars together in front of the set? How about a strong female lead in the guy-friendly genre of a police procedural? Well, TNT's "The Closer" couldn't close the deal either, as despite being competitive with a 1.5/4, it was watched by a two-thirds-female audience.

So in the end, of course, it wasn't Kate or Kyra or relationship reality that women watched most. It was the guys on CBS sitcoms, who would most likely be oblivious to the female-focused shows. CBS won each half hour among adults 18 to 49, averaging an overall first-place 2.2/7.

The key? Gender balance: "Two and a Half Men" and "The Big Bang Theory," the two top-rated shows of the night, delivered a 49/51 and 50/50 gender balance, respectively. And "Rules of Engagement" (1.9/6) was no exception, with a 49/51. "How I Met Your Mother" (1.6/6) met nearly halfway as well, with a slight female favoring of 47/53. Indeed, the only generation gap was for "CSI: Miami" (2.0/6), with macho Horatio Caine (David Caruso) -- only it wasn't guys getting their forensic fix after so much relationship reality, but women, who were 57% of the viewership.

As to Freud's query about what women want? Aside from CBS, like guys, a remote control.

WHAT TO WATCH:
Tuesday: OK, enough of Jon -- who is wearing the black hat now that his post-Kate girlfriend has emerged -- and on to the "Man in Black," Johnny Cash, who is featured in a 1969 documentary on PBS's "P.O.V."
Wednesday: "Wipeout." "I Survived a Japanese Game Show." "So You Think You Can Dance" "America's Got Talent." "America's Next Top Model." "TV's 50 Funniest Phrases." With Wednesday dominated by loud reality shows, why watch something completely different? Try a silent-movie marathon on TCM, with star Harold Lloyd, from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Lloyd breaks the silence at 8:30 with talkie "Welcome Danger."

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Strong athletes, weak weekly ratings: "The Superstars," ABC's '70s flashback, probably won't come back after tonight's season finale.

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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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