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Fox's 'Skating With Celebrities' proving to be a ratings success


By Reality TV World staff, 02/01/2006 

Fox's Skating With Celebrities might be little more than an ice skating ripoff of Dancing with the Stars, but so far it is proving to have something else in common with the smash hit ABC ballroom dancing competition -- ratings success.

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Although Skating With Celebrities isn't drawing the huge ratings of Dancing with the Stars and Scott Hamilton isn't the lame jokester that Tom Bergeron is (then again, that's probably a good thing), the Fox copycat has emerged as a modest ratings hit of its own, using its special American Idol-fueled Wednesday premiere to become a solid Monday night performer and one of Fox's most watched television shows.

Skating With Celebrities made full use of its Wednesday, January 18 post-Idol premiere, using the plum time period to draw a 7.2/17 rating/share in the Adults 18-49 demographic, a 11.2/16 rating/share in households, and average 18.7 million viewers. The numbers made Skating With Celebrities the highest rated unscripted series premiere among Adults 18-49 and total viewers on any network in two years -- since Fox's My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé debuted in January 2004.

While Skating With Celebrities' Wednesday premiere still trailed ABC's Lost megahit among most demographics, it did manage to finish in the 9-10PM hour in first place among the Teens, Women 18-49, and Women 18-34 demographics. The strong Idol-fueled debut also ended up placing well in the week's various ratings rankings, placing twelfth among total viewers, tenth among Adults 18-49, eighth in Adults 18-34, and fifth in Teens.

Since then, Skating With Celebrities has shown signs that while it can't keep those ratings numbers up on its own, it can still be a solid standalone performer and rank as one of Fox's highest rated shows.

Skating With Celebrities drew a 3.7/9 rating/share in Adults 18-49, a 7.0/10 in households, and averaged 10.9 million viewers during its regular Mondays 8-9PM ET/PT time period premiere on January 23, numbers that blew away what Fox's Arrested Development/Kitchen Confidential combo had previously done in the hour and left the network jockeying alongside CBS and ABC in a pretty tight timeslot three-way race that saw all three networks average within about a million viewers of each other.

Skating With Celebrities' Monday premiere ended finishing second in its among total viewers and households behind CBS, tied for second in Women 18-49, Women 18-34, Women 25-54, and Teens behind ABC, tied for second in Men 18-49 and Men 25-54 behind CBS, and third in the hour among Adults 18-49 and Adults 18-34. Skating's numbers dwarfed Fox's previous season average in the Monday hour, increasing 54% among Adults 18-49 (3.7/9 vs. 2.4/6) and 85% in total viewers (10.9 vs. 5.9 million.)

For the week, Skating With Celebrities' Monday premiere trailed behind only four Fox broadcasts in the viewership rankings -- both of the week's American Idol broadcasts, 24, and Bones (which premiered in its new regular post-Idol Wednesday time period in which Skating With Celebrities had debuted but didn't deliver nearly the numbers that Skating's own Idol-fueled premiere had done.)

While the Monday 8-9PM hour remained a tight three-way race on January 30 and Skating With Celebrities second Monday broadcast did show some decline, so did the ratings of its CBS and ABC time period competitors, resulting in Skating winning its hour among total viewers despite averaging fewer viewers (10.0 million vs. the previous week's 10.9 million.) Unlike its first Monday broadcast, Skating With Celebrities also finished a clear second in several demographics, including Men 18-49, Women 18-49, and Women 25-54.

How Skating With Celebrities ratings will hold up when NBC begins airing a seventeen day Winter Olympics schedule that includes broadcasts of the world's best figure skaters remains unknown, but so far one thing is clear about Fox's latest reality TV knockoff -- unlike previously failed copycats like The Next Great Champ (NBC's The Contender) and The Rebel Billionaire (NBC's The Apprentice), Skating With Celebrities is enjoying some early season ratings success.

Given that Fox's Trading Spouses -- its preemptive copycat of ABC's Wife Swap -- has also enjoyed some ratings success and continues to air on the network, perhaps Fox reality chief Mike Darnell has seized upon a new copycat strategy: copy ABC reality show concepts imported from Britain and stay far away from those of NBC and reality producer Mark Burnett.

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