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June 17, 2008

ABC halts Fox's 22-week winning streak

Livefeedabchaltsfox ABC topped the ratings last week and finally broke Fox’s epic 22-week winning streak.

Fox seized control of the coveted adults 18-to-49 demographic back in January as it launched the seventh season of "American Idol." Broadcast competitors -- their biggest hits sidelined by the writers strike -- were no match for Fox as the network used "Idol" to funnel viewers into other reality hits such as "The Moment of Truth" and "Hell's Kitchen."

Though Fox’s summer reality slate continues to pull in strong numbers, last week it couldn't overcome an action-packed basketball playoff series.

ABC’s presentation of the NBA Finals put the network over the top -- winning Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday night with Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics games. The games also provided a strong platform for ABC promote some reality shows of its own -- the upcoming premieres of “Wipeout” and “I Survived a Japanese Game Show.”

On average, the NBA Finals are out-delivering last year’s series by 57% in total viewers and 62% in the demo, making it the highest-rated NBA championship since 2004. The biggest game so far was on Sunday night (17.4 million viewers, 7.3 adults 18 to 49 rating and a 21 share).

Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel is also benefiting from the added exposure. His primetime pre-game specials, including last Sunday's outing featuring an interview with Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama (2.9 million, 1.1/4), have earned 68% higher ratings than his regular late-night show.
Driven by comedy repeats, CBS still led in total viewers for the third summer week in a row, yet was fourth in the adults 18-to-49 demo. The network’s new Thursday night drama “Swingtown” (7 million, 2.3/7) dropped slightly in its second episode, but placed second in the hour. On Sunday night, the 62nd annual Tony Awards (6.3 million, 1.1/3) hit a record low. The network also tried out “Million Dollar Password” (9.4 million, 2.0/7) on Thursday at 8 p.m. and won the hour.

Fox was second in the demo. Up against the NBA Finals, its reality hit “Hell’s Kitchen” (8.8 million, 4.2/12) the previous week’s chart leader, only lost a couple tenths. Wednesday night’s “So You Think You Can Dance” (8.9 million, 3.4/11) also slipped. 

NBC ranked third, with the premiere of new reality series “Celebrity Circus” (6.5 million, 2.3/7) placing second on Wednesday night. The premiere of “Nashville Star” (6.7 million, 2.2/6) was the highest-rated ever for the former USA Network series and tied ABC’s “Bachelorette” among the fourth-ranked shows of Monday night. 

Overall for the week ending June 15: ABC (6.8 million, 2.5/8), Fox (6 million, 2.2/7), NBC (6.8 million, 2.0/7), ABC (6.8 million, 2.5/8) and the CW (1.7 million, 0.6/2).


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