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Summer reality success continues for NBC in Nielsens for week of August 18

By Wade Paulsen, 08/27/2003 

Once again, NBC's summer strategy of multiple reality shows has led it to success among viewers 18-49 in the Nielsen ratings for the week ending August 18. MediaWeek reports that, although CBS continued to lead the overall Nielsens this week, NBC's reality shows, which took 5 of the top 12 places, propelled NBC to #1 among 18-49s, considered to be the most desirable market for advertisers.

Here's how the different reality series did in MediaWeek's "summer reality check," ranked by number of viewers overall (the number in parenthesis refers to the ranking for the week based on the percentage of viewers watching, not the number):

1. Amazing Race 4 (CBS, finale), Thurs. 8 p.m. -- 9.88 million (#14)
2. For Love or Money 2 (NBC), Mon. 9 p.m. -- 9.73 million (#11)
3. Big Brother 4 (CBS), Wed. 9 p.m. -- 9.71 million (#12)
4. Big Brother 4 (CBS), Tues. 8 p.m.-- 8.81 million (#19)
5. Queer Eye For the Straight Guy (NBC), Thurs. 10 p.m. -- 8.02 million (#25)
6. Meet My Folks (NBC), Mon. 10:10 p.m. -- 8.01 million (#26)
7. The Restaurant (NBC), Sun. 10 p.m. -- 7.72 million (#28)
8. Paradise Hotel (Fox), Wed. 9 p.m. -- 7.14 million (#35)
9. Big Brother 4 (CBS), Sat. 8 p.m.- 7.13 million (#36)
10. Cupid (CBS), Tues. 9 p.m. -- 6.58 million (#48)
11. Paradise Hotel (Fox), Mon. 9 p.m. -- 6.53 million (#49)
12. American Juniors (Fox), Tues. 8 p.m. -- 5.21 million (#62)
13. The Family (ABC), Wed. 10 p.m. -- 4.58 million (#71)
14. Race to the Altar (NBC, finale), Sat. 10 p.m. -- 4.54 million (#72)

However, considering only viewers 18-49 yields a very different result. For this chart, we have added NBC's Fear Factor, which MediaWeek treats as a game show, not a reality show:

1. For Love or Money 2 (NBC), 4.5/12 (#2)
2. Queer Eye For the Straight Guy (NBC), 4.2/13 (#4)
3. Fear Factor (NBC), 4.1/13 (#6)
4. Big Brother 4 (Wed.) (CBS), 3.9/12 (#8t)
5. Meet My Folks (NBC), 3.9/11 (#10)
6. Amazing Race 4 (CBS) 3.7/12 (#11)
7. The Restaurant (NBC), 3.7/11 (#12)
8. Paradise Hotel (Wed.) (Fox), 3.6/11 (#13)
9. Big Brother 4 (Tues.) (CBS), 3.5/12 (#19)
10. Paradise Hotel (Mon.) (Fox), 3.2/ 9 (#26t)
11. Big Brother 4 (Sat.) (CBS), 3.0/11 (#33)
12. Cupid (CBS), 3.0/ 9 (#34)
13. The Family (ABC), 2.2/ 7 (#49)
14. Race to the Altar (NBC), 2.0/ 7 (#54t)
15. American Juniors (Fox), 1.8/ 6 (#66t)

NBC had only one bust to go along with its strength with this demographic. By contrast, CBS managed to get only 3 of the top 9, Fox did OK, if not good, with one show; and ABC was, as usual, a disaster. We guess that goes without saying.

The survey has an interesting implication for each network. First, CBS's The Amazing Race managed to attract a decent audience for its finale -- but, unlike Survivor, the audience skewed to an older demographic. Since CBS has plenty of other shows which skew older as well (for example, its Monday-night comedy block), it may choose to dump TAR in favor of a more youth-friendly reality series.

Next, for NBC, the ratings for a rerun of Queer Eye make it clear that this show draws a YOUNG crowd. Great for demographics -- which indicates that we'll probably be seeing a lot more of Queer Eye on the Peacock Network.

ABC ... well, it's a mess. It's "no reality" summer schedule didn't produce any better results than its "all-reality" spring schedule did.

Finally, Fox has a MAJOR problem on its hands with American Juniors, which is on the Fox 2003-04 schedule until the next season of American Idol starts. AJ is shaping up to be a complete dog, with little appeal to either younger or older viewers. Don't be surprised if AJ ends up making an abrupt exit from the Fox schedule before the fall season starts, in favor of something like Fox's The Simple Life ... and, if AJ actually does return, expect to see a significant revamping on the fly.

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