'Wipeout' and 'America's Got Talent' Top Tuesday

Rash Report: Viewers Switched All Over the Dial, Loyal to No Network

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- Maybe the reason viewers like ABC's "Wipeout" so much is that the absurd obstacle course reminds them of their TV viewing. Having abandoned intra-network audience flow long ago, viewers jump from network to cable and back again. And when they're watching network TV, they often create their own schedule grids, as was the case last night.
ABC's 'Wipeout' was the second-highest-rated show of Tuesday night.
ABC's 'Wipeout' was the second-highest-rated show of Tuesday night. Credit: ABC

"Wipeout" delivered a 3.6/11 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic, which made it the second-highest-rated show of Tuesday night. But ABC's night was far from a "sweeper" (one of the show's stunts). Much of the lead-in audience for "Wipeout" was wiped out the next hour, as "I Survived a Japanese Game Show" (2.3/6) had to survive a third of its audience defecting to the top show of the night, NBC's "America's Got Talent" (3.7/10), which had ratings nearly identical to those for "Wipeout."

Crawling from the wreckage
But like the muddied (if not bloodied) contestants on "Wipeout," ABC was game for another round at 10 p.m. ET, winning the hour with a 2.4/7 for another kind of reality show, "Primetime," to give ABC an overall first-place finish with a 2.8/8.

NBC's second-place 2.6/7 was because both lead-in "Celebrity Family Feud" and lead-out "Law & Order: SVU" could only muster 54% of the audience for "America's Got Talent," as both delivered a 2.0/6.

CBS tied Fox with an overall 1.6/5. But despite "Big Brother" earning ratings on par with last week's 2.2/6, the summer staple was third in its timeslot, behind "Japanese Game Show" and "America's Got Talent," which may have schedulers wondering if "Big Brother" is the victim of the "sucker punch," another one of the obstacles featured in "Wipeout." Still, it was CBS's top-rated show of the night, as reruns of "NCIS" and "Without a Trace" delivered a 1.4/4 and 1.2/3, respectively.

Fox holds steady
Conversely, Fox was what no "Wipeout" contestant ever seems to be -- steady. Repeats of "Kitchen Nightmares" and "House" were nearly identical at a 1.4/5 and 1.7/5, respectively.

And they were identical on the CW, as a "Reaper" repeat and a second showing of "Beauty and the Geek" both delivered a .3/1.

So for the night, viewers flipped and skipped between a schedule of eight hours of reality and five hours of repeats, as no original episodes of scripted series ran. If it gave any of them the sense of another "Wipeout" obstacle, "the dizzy dummy," it's probably just a coincidence.

Wednesday: Get up and dance! Sure, maybe on Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance." But if you really want to swing, TCM runs "The Glenn Miller Story" and "The Benny Goodman Story" back-to-back.
Thursday: A finale at the hospital sounds a bit too ominous, so let's just say it's the last episode for ABC's "Hopkins."

ABC news has performed well with its new newsmagazine focus on smaller, individual stories, so watch for reality series like "Hopkins" to return next summer.

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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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