Actually, it's a few days early for the jarring jingoism that is sometimes heard along with the national anthem when an American wins a gold medal at the Olympics. But maybe Americans are getting into the spirit early, as they made "America's Got Talent" the highest-rated show of the night. It delivered a 3.5/10 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic, combining with "Celebrity Family Feud" (1.5/5) as NBC won Tuesday's ratings gold with an overall 2.9/9.
The latest Japanese inventions
Silver went to the Japanese tandem of "I Survived a Japanese Game Show" (1.8/5) and "Wipeout" (2.8/9), two concepts imported from reality-TV incubator Japan. Both combined for a 2.2/6, but both also performed better in earlier heats. "Japanese Game Show" fell by more than a third since its summer premiere, and "Wipeout" was off 15% from its June jump into the network pool (or in the case of "Wipeout," a mud bath).
CBS and Fox tied for bronze, with the bronze bodies (and tinny dialogue) of "Big Brother" garnering CBS's highest ratings at a 2.5/7 -- well above repeats of "NCIS" (1.7/6) and "Without a Trace" (1.6/4). Fox, meanwhile, fielded a British team of Hugh Laurie ("House," 2.0/6) and chef Gordon Ramsay ("Kitchen Nightmares," 1.8/6). Both networks delivered a 1.9/6 for the night.
As for the CW? Well, it was more like the Jamaican bobsled team: young, fun and fearless. But not necessarily competitive, as "Beauty and the Geek" and "Reaper" repeats each delivered a .4/1.
The real medals, of course, start Saturday after Friday's opening ceremonies. With athletic talent so widespread, anthems well beyond "The Star-Spangled Banner" will be heard -- along with the expressions of nationalism that are a natural part of the games in any country. But on the Nielsen podium for the next two weeks, it's likely to be the same song -- the NBC chimes.
WHAT TO WATCH:
Wednesday: ABC, the "Olympic Network" during the Jim McKay days of the '70s and '80s, has yielded 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."
Thursday: It's the season finale for Fox's TV equivalent to a breezy, summer hit song, "So You Think You Can Dance."
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Strong ratings for the last "Dance."
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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.