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Rash Report: CW Wins Night with '90210' Return

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MINNEAPOLIS ( -- Scandal! Gossip! Fresh faces! And we're not talking about the Palin family, who'll take center stage tonight at the Republican National Convention, where Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will accept her party's nomination for vice president. Rather, it's the return of Beverly Hills teens growing up too fast in the CW's "90210," which gave the struggling network its highest scripted-series ratings ever and a rare win in the ad-centric 18-to-49 demographic with a 2.6/7 rating and share. (All ratings reflect Nielsen fast affiliate data; live-plus-same-day numbers are delayed until tomorrow because of the Labor Day holiday.)
The return of '90210' gave the CW its highest scripted-series ratings ever and a rare win in the ad-centric 18-to-49 demographic.
The return of '90210' gave the CW its highest scripted-series ratings ever and a rare win in the ad-centric 18-to-49 demographic. Credit: Frank Ockenfels/The CW

It was the second straight night the CW has had success with its new female-focused fall lineup: Monday's "Gossip Girl" and "One Tree Hill" premieres tied it with CBS for third.

The CW took a page from the politicians, bypassing the press and going straight to the voters (or, in this case, Nielsen households) by not making an episode of "90210" available for review. That didn't seem to quiet the buzz (and may have enhanced it), as the network came in slightly above the 2.4/6 for Fox -- the original address for the ritzy ZIP code -- which ran a two-hour "House" repeat.

Highest-rated show
NBC was third, with a 2.3/6, but had the highest-rated show of the night: "America's Got Talent," which delivered a 2.8/8. It also had the highest ratings for convention coverage, with a 1.4/4, but that was down 17% from last Tuesday's Democratic convention.

The commensurate convention coverage was down an aggregate 18% from last week; despite his acting chops, Sen. Fred Thompson didn't have the star appeal of Sen. Hillary Clinton. ABC's and CBS's coverage tied with a .9/2, and they nearly tied for the night as well. CBS had the slight edge (1.6/4 vs. 1.5/4) as an "NCIS" rerun ran into an original "Big Brother" (2.46). The inverse occurred on ABC, with a second showing of "Wipeout" (2.1/6) washing out to a 1.5/4 for "Wanna Bet?"

Of course, the new season hasn't really started for the CW's competitors, so time will tell if the whispers continue to turn into shouts for "Gossip Girl" and "90210." But the CW has come back from summer vacation as the cool kid and should bask in its moment of newfound popularity.

Wednesday: Two premieres of past and future beauty queens: "America's Next Top Model" begins its vetting of 30 models on the CW, and multiple networks will shine the spotlight on the former Miss Wasilla, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, as the voters begin their vetting process.
Thursday: Sen. John McCain accepts the presidential nomination of the Republican Party, officially ending the primary season and beginning the fall's best reality series: the race for the presidency.

Tougher competition on NBC ("America's Got Talent") and Fox (an original "Bones") may make it difficult for the CW to maintain momentum.

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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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