Wednesday, July 26, 2006

While viewers on vacation, ABC left behind

NEW YORK (AP) -- At ABC, viewers seem to have left on a summer vacation.

The network finished a distant fourth last week in the broadcast ratings among all television viewers and those aged 18 to 49, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Late July ratings are about as meaningless as they come for broadcast networks. But none want to get viewers out of the habit of tuning in, especially as they increase the volume of promotions for upcoming fall shows.

ABC laid an egg with "Making a Music Star," which drew fewer than 3.1 million viewers for its premiere last week. Even fewer people -- 2.6 million -- bothered watching its results show the next night. The network was undoubtedly hurt by Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance," NBC's "America's Got Talent" and CBS' "Rock Star: Supernova" getting to the air faster.

ABC's two most-watched prime-time programs last week were the news shows "Primetime" and "20/20." Its most popular entertainment show was a rerun of "America's Funniest Home Videos."

The network also suffers from viewers' decreasing interest in seeing reruns of serialized dramas. "Desperate Housewives," for example, attracted only 4.3 million viewers, or less than a fifth of what it usually gets for a first-run episode.

For the week, CBS averaged 7.1 million viewers (4.8 rating, 9 share). NBC had 6.3 million (4.1, 7), Fox 5.8 million (3.7, 7), ABC 4.7 million (3.2, 6), UPN 2.1 million (1.4, 2), the WB 1.8 million (1.2, 2) and the i network 570,000 (0.4, 1)

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision had 3 million viewers in prime time (1.7, 3), Telemundo averaged 900,000 (0.5, 1) and TeleFutura had 610,000 (0.3, 1).

NBC's "Nightly News" won the evening news ratings race, averaging 8 million viewers (5.5, 12). ABC's "World News" had 7.6 million viewers (5.3, 11) and the "CBS Evening News" had 6.9 million (4.7, 10).

A ratings point represents 1,102,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 110.2 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.