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James Hibberd

In Conclusion...

February 14, 2008 9:00 AM

As some of you already know, I'm moving on to another publication.

Thanks again to all those who supported the blog during its tenure at TVWeek. Check the TVWeek.com homepage for Andrew Krukowski's ongoing daily ratings coverage. For my latest work, please see THR.com starting Feb. 19.

‘Idol’ Steady Amid Super Tuesday Coverage

February 6, 2008 11:14 AM

American Idol (Fox)Fox’s “American Idol” reigned supreme again Tuesday night, with competition from Super Tuesday primary coverage seeming to matter not a bit. In fact, “Idol” was up a tick from last week to an 11.2 rating among adults 18 to 49, according to preliminary Nielsen returns.

Fox followed “Idol” with an original “House” (9.0), and the medical drama posted its highest regular-time-period rating in more than eight months.

NBC was the runner-up with “The Biggest Loser: Couples” (3.1), followed by Super Tuesday coverage (2.1).

CBS was third with an “NCIS” repeat (1.8) and election coverage (1.3).

ABC came in fourth with election coverage (1.4).

The CW aired a “Reaper” repeat (0.7) and “One Tree Hill” (1.3).

Nielsen returns for Monday night were delayed a full day, which cost NBC a headline. Matching its rating from last week, “American Gladiators” may finally have stabilized (3.7), although it’s tough to be certain since the previous episode was pushed until 10 p.m. on the West Coast, preventing an apples-to-apples comparison. “Deal or No Deal” continues to perform well (4.4) and was the highest-rated show of the night.

ABC came in a rare second place for the evening thanks to a 90-minute “20/20” (4.3) that aired hidden-camera footage providing new information regarding the disappearance of Natalee Holloway. Lead-in “Dance Wars” (2.5) was on par.

Fox came in third with “Prison Break” (2.9) and an on-par “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” (3.5).

Fourth-place CBS aired a mix of originals and repeats, punctuated by the premieres of new sitcom “Welcome to the Captain” (2.6) and the return of “The New Adventures of Old Christine” (3.1). “Captain” matched its “How I Met Your Mother” repeat lead-in, but underperformed for the time period. “Old Christine” was 16% below its average for the time period last year, but that’s to be expected given its repeat lead-in of “Two and a Half Men” (3.8). The network aired a repeat of “CSI: Miami” (2.4) at 10 p.m.

The CW aired a “Gossip Girl” repeat (0.6), “Girlfriends” (0.8) and “The Game” (1.0).

Most-Watched Super Bowl Ever

February 4, 2008 11:02 AM

Fox says it's official: Sunday's suspenseful matchup between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants was the most-watched Super Bowl in history, according to time-zone-adjusted fast national Nielsen estimates provided by the network.

An estimated 97.5 million viewers, up 5% from last year, tuned in to watch the Giants achieve a last-minute upset of the previously undefeated Patriots to make Super Bowl history.

The show was the second-most watched television program of all time, behind the 1983 finale of "M*A*S*H," which was viewed by 106 million people. The previous most-watched Bowl, with 94.1 million viewers, was Dallas vs. Pittsburgh in 1996.

Sunday’s game scored a 37.6 rating among adults 18 to 49, making it the highest-rated Super Bowl in the demo in eight years. The 1996 Super Bowl remains the highest rated with a 41.2 rating.

This year’s Super Bowl was followed by an original episode of “House,” which earned a record-setting 12.8. "House" was the highest-rated scripted program on any network in two years and was up 29% from last year's post-game airing of "Criminal Minds" on CBS.

Overall, Fox enjoyed its highest-rated night ever in the demo and in total viewers, as well as posting the highest-rated night on any broadcast network in at least 17 years.

Some of the headlines this morning: "Super Bowl Headlines Tell Tale of Two Cities," "Giants Stun Perfect Pats in Super Bowl" and "An Idol and an Icon Entertain Super Bowl Revelers." Plus: USA Today's annual ad-meter rates the Super Bowl commercials. Review: "America's national celebration of advertising gluttony for once couldn't overshadow the game."

Competition was scarce.

ABC was a distant second, averaging a 1.2 rating for the night, led by an airing of the movie “Meet the Fockers” (1.4). CBS and NBC tied with a 0.8 average, CBS led by a “Cold Case” repeat (1.3) and NBC airing a marathon of “The Biggest Loser: Couples” repeats (0.6 and 1.0).

More to come.

NBC Orders Canadian ‘Listener’

February 1, 2008 12:40 PM

Following through on NBC Universal President-CEO Jeff Zucker’s mandate to order shows direct to series, NBC has picked up 13 episodes of “The Listener.”

The drama, about a young man who can hear people’s thoughts, was greenlit by Canadian broadcaster CTV last month and is produced by Toronto’s Shaftesbury Films.

“We’re delighted that ‘The Listener’ will broadcast on NBC in the U.S. and on CTV in Canada,” said Christina Jennings, chairman-CEO of Shaftesbury Films. “There seems to be a new pattern emerging at American TV networks, which have lately become more open to working with production companies outside the U.S.”

That “new pattern” is due, of course, to the writers strike, which has caused network programmers to search beyond U.S. borders for original content. Earlier this week, CBS acquired 13 episodes of CTV’s upcoming drama series “Flashpoint.”

‘Lost’ Premiere Wins Thursday

February 1, 2008 10:41 AM

Lost (ABC)The fourth-season premiere of ABC’s “Lost” led Thursday night, although it was down marginally from its previous season debut in October 2006.

“Lost” earned a 6.7 preliminary Nielsen rating among adults 18 to 49, down 13% from the season-three premiere.

ABC pointed out that it’s the show’s first original episode to air in eight months, the show premiered on a new night and time, and the rating was well above last season’s average.

Critics have been full of praise, with USA Today’s Robert Bianco saying the premiere was “a heart-stopping, perfectly pitched episode” and the San Francisco Chronicle’s Tim Goodman calling the first two episodes “roller coasters of fast action and revelation.”

The show was heavily advertised as a two-hour premiere, but the first hour was actually a backstory clip show (psych!) that earned the second-highest rating of the night (4.9).

The debut of ABC’s “Eli Stone” in the 10 p.m. slot won the hour (4.2), but was down slightly from the premiere of “Big Shots” in the time period earlier this season and lost 17% of its demo rating in the second half-hour.

Fox came in second, with “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader” (3.1) and “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” (3.3) continuing to perform above average now that “American Idol” is boosting Fox’s viewership levels.

NBC was third, with comedy repeats leading into a two-hour “Celebrity Apprentice” (3.2). The return of “Lost” helped knocked “The Apprentice” to its lowest Thursday night rating ever (excluding Thanksgiving).

CBS was fourth with repeats of “CSI: NY” (1.9), “CSI” (2.8) and “Without a Trace” (2.4).
In fifth place, The CW had its best “Smallville” rating in a couple of months (1.6), followed by “Supernatural” (1.3).

‘Idol,’ New ‘House’ Give Fox a Tuesday Win

January 30, 2008 1:47 PM

Fox’s double punch of “American Idol” and an original episode of “House” readily dominated the Nielsen ratings Tuesday night.

“Idol” ruled the evening with an 11.0 preliminary rating among adults 18 to 49, slipping 7% from last week. With an 8.6 rating, “House” was up 23% since its last original airing three months ago, thanks to the “Idol” lead-in.

NBC was the runner-up, with “The Biggest Loser: Couples” down 11% because of heightened competition in the 9 p.m. hour from “House.” A repeat of “Law & Order: SVU” (2.9) won the 10 p.m. hour.

CBS came in third in the demo with repeats of “NCIS” (2.0) and “The Unit” (1.5) followed by “48 Hours Mystery” (2.4).

ABC came in fourth with two episodes of “Just for Laughs” (1.4 and 1.3), “According to Jim” (2.0), “Carpoolers” (1.3) and a repeat of “Boston Legal” (1.3).

The CW had a “Reaper” repeat (0.6) and “One Tree Hill” (1.3).

Zucker Tackles the Broadcast Delusion

January 29, 2008 5:30 PM

The conventioneers march into the Mandalay Bay exhibit hall, wide-eyed and excited.

They’re youthful, happy to be here and full of optimism about the future.

The conventioneers are, of course, not attending NATPE.

They’re going to the snow sports convention in the exhibit hall next door to the annual television trade show.

The snow sports event slogan is: “Poker … Strip Clubs … Snowboards … Is This Heaven?”

The NATPE slogan could be: “Media Consolidation … Writers Strike … DVR Penetration … Is This a Tax Writeoff?”

To lead off the proceedings, conference organizers choose NBC Universal President-CEO Jeff Zucker to give the keynote address.

This is sort of like choosing “The God Delusion” author Richard Dawkins to give your loved one’s eulogy. Sure, he might be right about everything … but kind of a downer, no?

“For many years, if there is one thing everyone could count on at an industry meeting like this, it was that if a head of a media company was up here, he or she would talk about how broadcast television has a strong and robust future in spite of all the challenges,” Mr. Zucker said. “It has been a great run. … I can’t come here with the usual cliches about the endurance of broadcasting in the form we have always known. We must acknowledge that a significant part of our industry is under incredible pressure and has to change.”

Here’s what was impressive about Zucker’s speech: By the conclusion of his tough-love rundown of the drastic changes required to overhaul broadcast television, you’re nearly convinced that the fourth-place network is actually ahead of its competitors in terms of bottom-line strategic thinking (which is, naturally, one reason Zucker gave it).

A key question asked of Zucker afterward is whether he would embrace such changes if NBC were not a perennial fourth-place finisher in recent years.

“Whether we’re in first place or fourth place, we have to change,” he said, which isn’t entirely the same as answering "yes."

Yet Zucker’s point is that the marketplace challenges exist regardless of NBC’s ratings. If the media can put aside its obsession with the broadcast network horse race for a second (always difficult for us to do), his call to re-examine the decades-old development and upfront processes is certainly reasonable.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with either process, mind you. They’re just byproducts of a wealthy industry that has long been able to drive the scenic route to its destination—a winding path that the industry finds increasingly cumbersome to take.

‘Gladiators’ Rule Despite Low

January 29, 2008 3:10 PM

NBC’s “American Gladiators” topped the Nielsen ratings despite hitting a new low on Monday night.

“Gladiators” had a 3.7 national Nielsen rating among adults 18 to 49, down from last week’s 4.3. NBC noted the show’s time period was shifted to 10 p.m. in West Coast markets due to President Bush’s State of the Union address, impacting viewership.

NBC still managed to win the night, edging out second-place CBS, which aired comedy repeats. Fox aired a repeat of “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” (2.2) for third place. ABC was fourth with “Dance War” (2.5) and a repeat. The CW didn’t air the president’s address, but still came in fifth.

The ‘Baby’ Bumpers

January 28, 2008 4:22 PM

File this under “surprising yet makes sense.”

NBC has bumped its new reality series “The Baby Borrowers” a mere 22 days before its scheduled Feb. 18 premiere, despite recently airing ads touting the show and sending screeners to critics (surprising).

Instead, NBC will debut "My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad” in “Borrowers’” previously scheduled Monday 8 p.m. slot, since “American Gladiators” is currently ruling the time period. The network figures having another sporty competition series like “My Dad” once "Gladiators" runs out of new episodes could continue its Monday night ratings momentum (makes sense).

Still, the question invariably becomes: Does the move signal a lack of network confidence in “Borrowers”? NBC says it still loves the show and will schedule a premiere at a future date.

The network also announced that game show “Amne$ia,” hosted by Dennis Miller, will debut Friday, Feb. 22, at 9 p.m. following the season finale of “1 vs. 100,” then shift to 8 p.m. the next week.

ABC’s ‘Extreme Makeover’ Leads Sunday

January 28, 2008 10:26 AM

Broadcast networks aired a weekend lineup heavily populated by repeats and specials, as the impact of the writers strike on their primetime lineups becomes increasingly evident.

ABC easily won Sunday night, led by a two-hour “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (5.1 preliminary Nielsen rating among adults 18 to 49) and “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (2.8).

Fox was second, led by a repeat of “Family Guy” (3.8), which outranked originals of “The Simpsons” (3.6) and “American Dad” (3.0) and its other repeats.

CBS came in third with “60 Minutes” (2.7), “Shark” (2.0) and the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie “The Russell Girl” (2.2).

NBC had “U.S. Men’s Championship Figure Skating” (0.8) and a “Guinness World Records: Top 100” special (2.2).

The CW aired “Life Is Wild” (0.4), “CW Now” (0.3) and repeats.

Fox won Saturday yet again with back-to-back episodes of “Cops” (1.9 and 2.3), followed by “America’s Most Wanted” (2.2). ABC edged out CBS for second place with its fifth airing of Julia Roberts starrer “Pretty Woman” (1.6). CBS was third with “Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials 2008” (1.8) and back-to-back episodes of “48 Hours Mystery” (1.1 and 1.6). Fourth-place NBC aired “U.S. Women’s Championship Figure Skating” (0.9).

On Friday, NBC scored a narrow victory with “1 vs. 100” (2.3), “Friday Night Lights” (1.9) and “Las Vegas” (2.1). Fox was second with repeats. CBS was third with repeats and “Garth Brooks: Live in L.A.” (2.1). The CW was fourth with “Friday Night Smackdown” (1.4). ABC came in fifth with repeats and “20/20” (1.9).