America Likes Watching Americans Compete

Rash Report: Strong Ratings for 'America's Got Talent' and 'America's Next Top Model'

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MINNEAPOLIS ( -- American confidence seems shaken, with Hurricane Ike hitting Houston and Galveston and hurricanes Fannie and Freddie hitting Wall -- and Main -- Street. The professionals in charge have appeared unprepared, as FEMA and the SEC seem to be having a "Heckuva job, Brownie" moment. But if the professionals aren't inspiring, the amateurs are -- at least according to the Nielsen ratings race, in which NBC's "America's Got Talent" and the CW's "America's Next Top Model" were each the highest-rated shows on their respective networks.
'America's Next Top Model' was the highest-rated show on the CW.
'America's Next Top Model' was the highest-rated show on the CW. Credit: The CW

"Talent" was up 7%, while "Top Model" spiked 5% from last week and 23% from its premiere two weeks ago in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic.

The two-hour "Talent" delivered a 3.1/8 rating and share, and combined with a repeat of "Law & Order: CSI" (2.2/6) gave NBC an overall victory with an average 2.7/8.

CW's results mixed
"America's Next Top Model" sported a 2.1/5, but the CW squandered the lead-in by running a rerun of "90210," which fell in half to a 1.0/3. But overall, the CW once again avoided finishing last by delivering a 1.6/4, which was good for fourth. This is a significant audience accomplishment, particularly because adults 18-49 is not the network's core demographic.

But the top-rated show on broadcast was actually "Bones," which delivered a 3.3/8, matching its premiere two weeks ago and up 10% from last week. But week two for struggling sitcoms " 'Til Death" (1.9/5) and "Do Not Disturb" (1.5/4) repeated the CW's second-hour squander, as " 'Til Death" was down 17% from its season premiere. And 21% less in the demo bothered to watch "Disturb" after its series premiere last week.

The near halving of the 9 p.m. ET hour from "Bones" is a reversal of fortune for Fox, as "Fringe" retained 90% of "House" 's lead-in Tuesday night to emerge as a possible breakout hit.

CBS relies on reruns
No such breakouts on CBS, however, at least Wednesday night. Which isn't surprising, considering the network is programming more like summer than fall with a lineup of reruns. Two episodes of "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (1.2/4 and 1.4/4) led into police procedurals "Criminal Minds" and "CSI: NY," which delivered a 2.3/6 and 2.2/6, respectively.

Last place on this night of American amateurs went to the American Broadcasting Company, which perhaps picked the wrong night to run a rerun of "20/20: The Royal Family" (1.3/3), which was just above its lead-in, "Wife Swap," which delivered a 1.2/4.

After all, given all the problems here in the colonies, it may be harder than ever to relate to royalty.

Thursday: Most of ABC's and NBC's big Thursday programs will have season premieres next week, so before you get caught up in them, catch up with two smart series -- "Smallville" and "Supernatural" -- on the CW.
Friday: The contentious campaign season has provided much more heat than light from cable commentators. But that doesn't mean political punditry can't be enlightening, as long as it's from the erudite David Brooks and Mark Shields on PBS's "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," a regular Friday feature.

The last week -- or so the networks hope -- of tepid Thursday ratings, as next week's originals should bring in new viewers.

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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
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