Disney's 'Camp Rock' Rocks Friday-Night TV

Rash Report: But Sunday's Olympic Hopefuls Hold Their Own

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- Fresh-faced kids entertaining with their athleticism were certain to be the media story of the weekend. But while the perspiring, aspiring gymnasts of NBC's U.S. Olympic Trials won Sunday's Nielsen gold, it was a group of actors, not acrobats, who flew highest: The Disney Channel estimates "Camp Rock" was the most-watched show on TV -- broadcast or cable -- Friday night. (Final live-plus-same-day ratings will be available Tuesday and reflected in a subsequent Rash Report column.)
'Camp Rock'
'Camp Rock' Credit: Disney Channel

Olympian feat
As for NBC's Olympians-to-be, they impressed both the actual and armchair judges, delivering a 2.0/6 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic, which won its timeslot. Combined with a 2.3/6 for lead-out "Dateline," NBC won the night overall with a 2.1/6 (all based on Nielsen "fast affiliate ratings").

The gymnastics trials were about even with 2004's version -- an Olympian feat given the fragmenting and fracturing media landscape in the last four years. This is a positive precursor to NBC's telecast of the games themselves, which begin in just six weeks.

As for the competition? Well, the Nielsen judges were not impressed, as no network except NBC topped a two rating for the night. Regardless, silver went to the grayest network, CBS, which averaged a 1.9/6. But unlike the Olympic trials, youth wasn't exactly being served, as the octogenarian legends reporting on "60 Minutes" (1.2/4) led into septuagenarian legend Regis Philbin, who fresh off his well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award on Friday's "Daytime Emmy Awards" hosted "Million Dollar Password" (1.5/5). CBS followed with repeats of police procedurals "Cold Case" (1.6/4) and "Criminal Minds" (1.6/4).

Bronze went to Fox, whose predominantly younger male Sunday audience NBC hopes to energize starting August 8. Reruns of the animated antics of "The Simpsons" and "King of the Hill" (each at a 1.9/6), as well as "Family Guy" (2.6/7) and "American Dad" (2.2/6) led out of "Don't Forget the Lyrics" (.8/3) as the network averaged an overall 1.7/5.

Fourth-place ABC (1.6/5) may have medaled had it meddled with its schedule and rested the rerun of "Desperate Housewives" (1.1/3), which delivered just 16% of its original episode average. Conversely, reruns of "America's Funniest Home Videos" (1.5/5) and "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (1.6/5 and 2.2/6) performed better, with each holding more than half of its original episode average.

Where the kids are
As for the network designed to attract -- and reflect back -- those fresh-faced kids? The CW finished fifth with a .3/1, as no show could break a one share or a four rating: "One Tree Hill," .3/1; "Everybody Hates Chris," .2/1; "Aliens in America," .2/1; "The Game" and "Girlfriends," each .4/1.

The CW's ratings could be attributed to summer patterns, as the desired demo is out of school and watching "Get Smart" at the Cineplex. But as "Camp Rock" -- and last year's "High School Musical 2" -- shows, the right programming can create an audience, maybe even a sensation. Certainly NBC hopes that's the case starting 8/8/08 in Beijing.

Monday: High gas prices, low consumer confidence and rising rivers are making it 2008's "Summer of Anxiety." Travel back 40 years to 1968's "Summer of Love" on PBS's "American Experience."
Tuesday: Revere it or revile it, network TV is always interesting -- at least to watch what is watched. Tuesday will be one of those nights, as ABC premieres low-cost -- if not low-concept -- reality in "Wipeout" and "I Survived a Japanese Game Show."

ABC used the highly rated NBA Finals to promote "Wipeout" and "I Survived a Japanese Game Show." Will prime time's promotional platform pay off -- especially with the elusive young male viewer?

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NOTE: A share is a percentage of TV households that have their TV sets on at a given time. A rating is a percentage of all TV households, whether or not their sets are turned on. For example, a 1.0 rating is 1% of the total U.S. households 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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