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September 04, 2008

'Top Model' premiere drops; 'Bones' steady

Top_model After two days of glowing headlines for the CW, you just knew everybody's favorite hard-luck network was going to have a change of fortune: Despite the CW's stellar start this week with the return of "Gossip Girl" and unveiling of "90210," Wednesday night's "America’s Next Top Model" premiere was the lowest-rated in the network’s history.

The two-hour "Top Model" premiere (3.5 million viewers, 1.7 preliminary adults 18-49 rating and a 5 share) was down 11% from last February's cycle, and down 32% from last September in the adult demo. Among the network's 18-34 demo (1.9/6), the drops were steeper. It marks the lowest-rated premiere since the show debuted in 2003 on UPN.

Given all the heavy advertising of "90210" and "Gossip" running up to their premieres, it seems conceivable (if not highly likely) that efforts to promote awareness of the soap dramas may have come at the expense of the network's highest-rated show. Then again, after running two editions for the past five years or so one would think "Model" fans would either not need too much prompting, or, more probable, feel the show is long in the tooth. This is Cycle 11, which is an extraordinary run for a reality show, and "Model" has slipped in the ratings for a few editions now. If the premiere week ratings horse race doesn't change over the course of the season, the CW will have a new top-rated series.

Over on Fox, which saw CW steal its glory earlier this week when "Prison Break" returned to a low while "Gossip" was surprisingly strong, the network was back on track Wednesday with the return of "Bones."

The two-hour "Bones" premiere (9.3 million, 3.3/9) was dead even with its Tuesday premiere number last year. The show ranked as the night's highest-rated show and Fox was the highest-rated network. 

With the increased competition, the two-hour edition of NBC's "America's Got Talent" (10.1 million, 2.7/7)  -- yes, a lot of two-hour shows last night -- was down merely a tenth from last week and put NBC in second place.

CBS was third with "Greatest American Dog" (4.9 million, 1.4/4) and ABC fourth with repeats.

RNC coverage ratings from 10 p.m. will be posted as soon as they are released but, judging from the shaky broadcast prelims, Sarah Palin drew a big number.

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