'If I Can Dream' Aims to Conquer Web As Fox, NBC Contests Still Grab Viewers

Rash Report: But CBS Series Win Again; 'Christine,' 'Gary Unmarried' Hit Season Highs

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- The big news next year might be the launch of "If I Can Dream," a web-based series from Simon Fuller's 19 Entertainment that hopes "to do for web video what "American Idol" did for broadcast TV in 2002."

ABC's 'The New Adventures of Old Christine' hit a season high.
ABC's 'The New Adventures of Old Christine' hit a season high. Credit: ABC
Whether "Idol's" producer can recreate that show's success online remains to be seen. But what is certain is that viewers still have a taste for reality competition on broadcast TV, as evidenced by Wednesday night's ratings race.

Two shows had a competition of their own. And while they didn't beat CBS, Fox's finale of "So You Think You Can Dance" and NBC's third night of "The Sing-Off" each held relatively well, especially given their lower ambitions (and cost).

"Dance" completed its two-step from the summer schedule to the fall one, and at minimum established reality competition consistency until the originator, "American Idol," returns in January. The two-hour "Dance" finale drew a 2.6/8 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic, which is 24% fewer viewers than summer's last "Dance." But it faced fresh episodes in the fall, compared to summer repeats, and was still strong enough to have Fox finish second overall.

Third place went to NBC (2.0/6), as night three of "Sing-Off" (2.1/6) fell 19% from Tuesday night and was 9% off Monday's program premiere. "Sing-Off's" encore, or lead-out, in TV parlance, was "The Jay Leno Show," which delivered a 1.6/5.

ABC (1.6/5) and the CW (.6/2) were fourth and fifth, respectively, as each (mostly) ran reruns: ABC had a second showing of its holiday hit "Prep and Landing" (1.9/6), followed by repeats of sitcoms "The Middle" (1.6/5), "Modern Family" (1.8/5) and "Cougar Town" (1.7/5). Then it burned off one of the remaining episodes of already canceled "Eastwick" (1.3/4).

The CW repeated its "Vampire Diaries" rerun marathon with the 8 p.m. episode posting a .5/2, slightly below the .6/2 for the one at 9 p.m.

Rash gridsEnlarge
See how all the shows did in the ratings.

As for CBS (3.1/9), it, too, has new media ambitions. But it's doing fine in old media too, as it once again won a competition of its own, with its scripted series winning for the third night running. First hour sitcoms "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (2.3/7) and "Gary Unmarried" (2.5/7) both hit season highs, up 15%, and 14%, respectively, from their original episode season to date averages. Right after, "Criminal Minds" (3.8/10) was a tenth of a ratings point above its average and then "CSI: NY" (3.1/9) was just a tenth of a ratings point below its regular level.

Thursday: Hopefully NBC's "Saturday Night Live Presents: A Very Gilly Christmas" is heavy on skits and light on Gilly herself.
Friday: Depending on your tastes, Glenn Beck and Kate Gosselin guesting on "The Jay Leno Show" is a compelling conversation or a disharmonic convergence of three TV hosts whose overexposure defined much of the medium's year.

CBS, with all new episodes of "Survivor," "CSI" and "The Mentalist," to win once for the fourth night in a row.

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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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