'Jon & Kate Plus 8' Airs Final Episode

Rash Report: Since Separation Announcement, Lost Two-Thirds of Adult Viewers

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- Modernity has moved Thanksgiving travel from over the river and through the woods to over traffic jams and through endless airport security lines. And it may not be to Grandmother's house we go, but to your stepmom's condo.

'Jon & Kate Plus 8'
'Jon & Kate Plus 8' Credit: TLC
But Thanksgiving is still all about family, however that's defined today. And TV -- however that's defined today -- reflects the revolution of how many now view familial ties.

Jon and Kate Gosselin, for instance, whose public lives have made them more hucksters than Huxtables for most viewers, had their last-ever episode of "Jon and Kate Plus 8" on TLC Monday night. The series finale delivered a 2.0/5 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic, which tied it, fittingly, with WWE wrestling on USA as the second-highest-rated show on cable (as usual, ESPN's "Monday Night Football" was first with a 4.8/13).

While the finale was 18% higher than its season-to-date average, it was less than a third of the demo delivery that tuned in when the couple announced they were separating.

It wasn't separating, but coming together that was the subject of another family reality show, ABC's "Find My Family," which had its series premiere at the same time "Jon and Kate" had its series finale. While its aspirational reality TV tonality wasn't as much of an exploitive exploration as "Jon and Kate," it was no less public, with visceral video of deeply personal moments packing an emotional punch.

It packed a ratings punch one, too, at least in household ratings, in which it was just a tenth of a ratings point away from winning its timeslot. It also finished second on the relatively younger adult 18-49 demo it finished second as well with a 2.9/7, beating timeslot rivals on NBC ("Trauma," 1.7/4), Fox ("Lie to Me," 2.7/7) and the CW (.5/1 for a "Gossip Girl" repeat).

But "Find my Family" lost out to another, more modern version of family, the cohesive geeks on "Big Bang Theory," which had its largest overall audience ever. In the demo, it delivered a 5.2/13, which was just a tenth of a ratings point away from tying its season high. CBS's similarly themed sitcom, the family of friends on "How I Met Your Mother," did hit a season high with a 3.7/10.

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

And it was a good week, too, for CBS's other two takes on families: "Accidentally on Purpose" (3.1/8) about an unplanned pregnancy leading to a family in the making, tied for its second-highest-rated show of the season. This led into "Two and a Half Men" whose family is comprised of a dad (Jon Cryer) seemingly raising both his son (Angus T. Jones) and his brother (Charlie Sheen). "Men" delivered a 4.7/12, just a tenth of a point below its season high. At 10 p.m., "CSI: Miami" (3.7/10) followed the sitcom block as CBS finished first with an overall 4.0/10.

Fox (3.6/9) was third, as its work family of doctors on "House" (4.6/12) led into "Lie to Me."

NBC (1.8/5) finished fourth, as its thrown together family of superheroes in "Heroes" (2.3/6) led into "Trauma" and then "The Jay Leno Show" (1.4/4).

Like "Gossip Girl," "One Tree Hill" on the CW was also a rerun and delivered the same .5/1.

ABC finished second with a 3.4/9, led by "Dancing with the Stars" (4.0/10), which fell 15% from last fall's final performance show and 9% from last spring's penultimate performance. After "Find my Family," more viewers found "Castle" than at any time this fall, as it hit a season high 2.7/7.

As for "Find my Family," it's too early to tell if ABC has found a hit. But the network is smart to try new ways to reflect the ever-evolving American family, including tomorrow night, when it runs its new sitcom success, the critically acclaimed "Modern Family."

Tuesday: While it's lacked the buzz of previous seasons, it still may be worth checking out the ninth season finale of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars."
Wednesday: Put your family's eccentricities in context by watching ABC's "The Middle" and "Modern Family."

The Rash Report to return right after the holiday break. Happy Thanksgiving!

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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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