Summer Loving on TV

Rash Report: 'The Bachelorette,' 'Dating in the Dark' Hook Up With Viewers

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MINNEAPOLIS ( -- Summer reality TV is the video equivalent of a summer fling: A lot of fun, nothing heavy and a defined break-up date at the end of the season. The formula has worked wonders for NBC's "America's Got Talent," Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance," CBS's "Big Brother" and ABC's "Wipeout." And viewers seem particularly willing to date around with relationship reality, such as last night's "The Bachelorette" finale and week two of "Dating in the Dark" on ABC.

'The Bachelorette'
'The Bachelorette' Credit: ABC
"The Bachelorette" scored a 3.5/10 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic, a tenth of a ratings point ahead of last summer's final rose ceremony. And "Dating in the Dark" is a bright spot at 10 p.m. during a summer clouded with cultural misfires. Week two connected with a 2.4/7, matching its highly rated program premiere. The dating-show couple led ABC to easily finish first with an overall 3.1/9.

Conversely, the relationship rut of seemingly endless repeats of scripted series usually means they get dumped by viewers. CBS's sitcom lineup, for instance, which is often a hot date during the regular season, was only able to connect with a second place 2.1/6. CBS's corporate cousin, the CW, also ran reruns of "One Tree Hill" and "Gossip Girl" and finished fifth with a .3/1.

But it's not just a difference between original and repeat programming. TV tonality counts, too. Which is one of the reasons the serious themes of NBC war criminal news show "The Wanted" was unwanted again, despite moving back an hour to the higher viewing levels at 9 p.m. "The Wanted" could only round up a .4/1, less than half of its lighter lead-in "Great American Road Trip" (.9/3), and of its "Dateline" (1.0/3) lead-out. Overall, NBC finished fourth with a .8/2.

As for Fox, it, too, seemed stale, at least to the usually passionate fans of its top-rated "House," which only delivered a 1.4/5 for a repeat. But it hopes viewers will be willing to begin a new relationship with its new dating show, "More to Love" and avoid another finish like last night's third place 1.3/4.

Tuesday: OK, after watching the easy escapism of "The Bachelorette," it's back to the real (natural) world with PBS's "Nova scienceNow ..."
Wednesday: ... but don't stray too far, reality TV fans! Escape back into summer reality series "Wipeout" (ABC), "America's Got Talent" (NBC) and "So You Think You Can Dance?" (Fox).

Rash chart July 27, 2009Click for PDF
See how all the shows did in the ratings.

Just as NBC's "The Biggest Loser" has shown big gains in recent seasons, Fox hopes for big numbers for full-figured dating show "More to Love." But the program premiere will run up against the robustly-rated "America's Got Talent" on NBC.

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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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