Already It Seems to Be the Dog Days (and Nights) of Summer

Rash Report: Cable Repeats Networks' Rerun Scheduling Strategy

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MINNEAPOLIS ( -- With broadcasters in the dog days of repeats and reality (at least until the boys of summer have their All Star Game a week from tonight), viewers continued to cool to network TV. So now is the time for cable to shine. Right?

'The Closer'
'The Closer' Credit: TNT
Well, maybe. Cable ratings are delayed until tomorrow, as Nielsen catches up after the Independence Day holiday. But those dependent on cable to beat repeats may have been disappointed.

Sure, there was first run fare, including TNT's "The Closer," which may have closed in on the networks.

But cable has its share of summer repeats as well. And often they're reruns of shows that have already run on network TV.

TNT's cable cousin TBS, for instance, ran four hours of "Family Guy," followed by an hour of "My Name Is Earl." WE ran three hours of "Golden Girls," and then followed it up with two more of the gals in late night. And this doesn't even count the cablers who built business models on running reruns like Nick at Nite and TVLand.

And it's not just scripted series. ESPN2 dealt four straight hours of the "2008 World Series of Poker." MTV ran "Run's House" for three hours. And its cable cousin, VH1, tried to charm viewers with three hours of "Charm School."

These aren't programming marathons, they're laps.

Of course, the networks repeated the same rerun strategy. CBS finished second with a 2.2/7 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic, with second showings of sitcoms and "CSI: Miami." NBC was third with a 1.3/4, featuring a repeat of "Law and Order" (1.1/3) to kick off the night. Fox's fourth place 1.1/3 featured repeats of "House" (1.2/4) and "Lie to Me" (.9/3). And the CW finished fifth with "One Tree Hill" and "Gossip Girl," which combined for a 0.3/1.

Rash chart July 6, 2009Click for PDF
See how all the shows did in the ratings.

Oh and first place? That went to ABC (2.3/7), which ran original reality shows "The Bachelorette" (2.5/8) and "Here Come the Newlyweds" (1.8/5).

Hardly the harbinger of the golden age of TV. But with cable as well as network in a summertime slumber, the marital shows were able to engage with enough viewers to win the night.

Tuesday: By the time you read this, you probably will have watched the Michael Jackson Memorial. If not, catch coverage on the cable news networks or on specials on ABC's "20/20" or NBC's "Dateline."
Wednesday: From entertainment to economics: Despite the down economy, "The Ascent of Money" on PBS, which explores the rise of the modern financial system, should give perspective.

The world watching the Michael Memorial. No definitive numbers will be available, but the uniquely American moment will be just as interesting -- if not more so -- overseas.

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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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