Dancing With Brooke Burke and Charlie Brown

Rash Report: ABC Wins Tuesday

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- In "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving," Lucy never does let Charlie Brown kick the football. And Brooke Burke didn't let former football player Warren Sapp kick up his heels as the winner of "Dancing with the Stars," either, as the TV personality and mother of four won the ABC dancing competition. Both shows combined gave ABC the Nielsen competition in the ratings race for the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic, as the network won with an overall 4.5/12 rating and share, well above Fox (3.6/10), CBS (3.2/9), NBC (2.8/7) and the CW (.4/1). (All based on Nielsen fast-affiliate ratings and shares, with final live-plus-same-day data available late Wednesday.)
'A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving' was up 3% in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic this year.
'A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving' was up 3% in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic this year.

But if Ms. Burke was light on her feet, the show was light on viewers, too. The 5.1/13 was 20% lower than last fall's finale, and 28% down from the 2006 last dance. Compared to competitions that end during May sweeps, last night's "Dance" dipped 6% from last May and 24% from May 2006, indicating "Dancing" is sliding, just as many reality shows are showing their age.

Peanuts always in season
Charlie Brown, however, just may be ageless. He -- and the whole Peanuts gang -- are certainly classic. And reliable. After the annual Halloween-themed "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" declined 11% in the demo, this year's Thanksgiving special was actually up 3% to a 3.4/9.

This stands in stark contrast to "The Biggest Loser" (no, not Charlie Brown, the NBC weight loss-program). It shed 16% of its season average as it delivered a 2.6/7 for a two-hour version. (Maybe this isn't the most appealing program concept during Thanksgiving week. ...) Lead-out "Law & Order: SVU" (3.2/9) was seemingly dragged down in the process, as it lost 14% of its normal viewers.

Even Fox fell, which is unusual on Tuesdays, as hit "House" (5.0/14) is as reliable as any program, but it, too, fell 7% from its season average and 11% from last week. Lead-out "Fringe" (3.8/10), which is one of the new season's only two new hits, missed 5% of its regular season and 7% of last week's watchers.

CBS, conversely, continued its steady scheduling success, which should at least lead the network to win the November sweeps in households (ABC is expected to take the demo derby). "NCIS" (3.6/10) and "The Mentalist" (3.6/9), which is the season's other new hit, both hit their season levels exactly. At 10 p.m., "Without a Trace" (2.5/7) could report 7% of their viewers missing.

Dealt a surprise
And on the CW, it wasn't only viewers, but shows, that were missing. Instead of regularly scheduled "90210" and "Privileged," the network ran the theatrical "How to Deal." It lost nearly two-thirds of last week's delivery, as "How to Deal" was dealt a low .4/1.

As for ABC, it found a family-friendly formula that concurrently taps into America's celebrity-obsessed society while humanizing the stars by making them more accessible via vulnerability, which is the universal emotion for nearly anyone publicly dancing. So despite the dance floor clearing out a bit more than a few seasons ago, don't expect the network to stop the music anytime soon. Sure, "Dancing with the Stars" may not last as long as Peanuts holiday specials. But what does?

Wednesday: With the words "Rosie" and "live" in the same title, you gotta watch, as the unpredictable Rosie O'Donnell premieres "Rosie Live" on NBC at 9 p.m.
Thursday: This most American of holidays has the most American of sports. National Football League games feature good teams -- the 10-1 Tennessee Titans and the 7-4 Dallas Cowboys -- taking on bad teams, the 0-11 Detroit Lions and the 2-9 Seattle Seahawks. CBS has the early game, with the Titans vs. Lions at 12:30 p.m., followed by Fox's 4:15 p.m. kickoff of the Cowboys vs. Seahawks.

NBC -- which will finish fourth in the November sweeps -- might be tempted to turn to Rosie for more specials if she is able to pull an audience.

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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 rashreport.com.
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