Ratings Were Bad. And That's Good.

Rash Report: Independence Day Means Less TV Viewing

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- Saturday night was for fireworks. Sunday was a dud.

As was the whole weekend, at least as far as prime-time programming is concerned, as what is often the lowest-rated week of the year will probably deliver on that dubious achievement again, once final live-plus-same-day data are released.

. Credit: Gregory Palmer
As it stands, Sunday's ratings race shows fast-affiliate ratings results that make prime time look more like daytime.

And actually, daytime might have had higher overall delivery, particularly as the most compelling content on this most American of holiday weekends had the Tour de France and the All-England Lawn Tennis Championship (better known as Wimbledon).

Sunday prime time had another American tradition: summer reruns. Fox won the night with just a 1.5/5 overall average in the ad-centric 18-to-49 demographic, as its animation-domination sitcoms dominated CBS and NBC, which each had a 1.1/4. ABC and the CW finished fourth and fifth, respectively, with a .8/3 and a .3/1.

To be fair, not all series were repeats. CBS newsmagazine "60 Minutes" won the 7 p.m. hour with a 1.2/5. But viewers of "Merlin" pulled a disappearing act, as NBC's summer series fell to a new low of 1.0/4.

Both were better than big hits "Desperate Housewives" (.6/2) and "Brothers & Sisters" (.5/2), ABC's serialized dramas, which, as usual, performed particularly poorly as reruns.

Of course, no matter what the networks programmed, it probably wouldn't have helped prime-time ratings. And indeed, it may have been more disappointing if ratings had risen. Independence Day weekend is one of the few times that our independence from each other -- usually a result of people retreating to rec rooms to watch TV -- is set aside for the Fourth's communal oohs and aahs at fireworks.

Monday: OK, David Letterman, it's safe to make Sarah Palin jokes again, at least after her abrupt announcement that she's quitting as governor of Alaska. Now Dave can poke fun at her politics instead of her personal life.

Rash grids

See how all the shows did in the ratings.
Tuesday: The network news anchors will be there, with ABC and CBS offering live coverage, while NBC will set aside a prominent prime-time slot. They'll be joined, of course, by the cable news networks. President Barack Obama's trip to Russia, on which he signed a preliminary agreement to cut nuclear-weapons stockpiles? Sorry, Mr. Murrow: Michael Jackson's memorial.

Another low-rated night, as the honeymoon is over for all programming except ABC's "The Bachelorette" and "Here Come the Newlyweds."

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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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