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'The Following' tops Monday ratings after renewal

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A sleepy Monday in the ratings, with plenty of post-sweeps repeats across the grid.

Fox’s The Following continues to demonstrate impressive stability, staying dead-even with last week in the adult demo. The serial killer cult drama had 8.7 million viewers and a 2.8 rating. With CBS mostly airing repeats of its comedy lineup, The Following also was Monday night’s top-rated broadcast show. The performance comes on the heels of Fox renewing the drama for another 15 episodes (along with renewing New Girl, Mindy Project and Raising Hope).

The rest of the field also had non-surprising performances. Fox’s Bones was down a tenth. CBS’ Rules of Engagement — as the network’s only show with a new episode — was down 19 percent to a season low. ABC’s The Bachelor was down 7 percent for its Women Tell All episode. NBC’s The Biggest Loser was down 5 percent and Deception tied its low. The CW’s Carrie Diaries was up a tick.

Full Chart: READ FULL STORY

'Celebrity Apprentice' premiere ratings low: Are All-Star editions a bad idea?

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Donald Trump could get called into NBC’s boardroom if his numbers don’t improve.

The business tycoon’s All-Star Celebrity Apprentice returned Sunday night to its lowest-rated premiere ever for a celebrity edition of the reality franchise. Only 5.1 million viewers tuned in to watch the show, which had a 1.6 rating among adults 18-49. That’s down 38 percent from last year’s premiere. Contestants include Trace Adkins, Bret Michaels, La Toya Jackson and Omarosa.

ABC’s Dancing With the Stars also hit lows with an All-Star edition this season. It’s impossible to know in either case if new casts would have performed worse, but it seems pretty obvious that the All-Star versions did not boost ratings in either case. As fans pointed out regarding last fall’s Dancing, the whole point of the show is to see celebrities sink or swim in a challenging environment; when you cast returning players, you lose that mystery.

The only legit bragging point NBC can muster on this number is that Apprentice beat ABC’s Red Widow premiere.

The crime family drama soap, which scored less than a 50 out of 100 among TV reviewers on Metacritic, launched to 6.8 million viewers and a 1.4 rating among adults 18-49. That’s 36 percent lower than the debut of ABC’s short-lived GCB in this slot last year. This ties Zero Hour (which was cancelled last week) as ABC’s lowest-rated scripted premiere ever, though the network points out that among total viewers Red Widow improved its time slot. READ FULL STORY

'Duck Dynasty' return scores huge ratings after Morrissey protest

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Heaven knows, Morrissey is miserable now.

A&E’s pro-hunting hit Duck Dynasty returned Wednesday night to record ratings. The season three premiere delivered 8.6 million viewers.

That’s huge. It’s not only the most-watched Duck Dynasty episode ever, it’s A&E’s most-watched telecast ever and ranks as cable’s biggest reality show telecast so far this year. The 10 p.m. episode (the first of two back-to-back airings) was up 132 percent vs. the second season premiere. In fact, Dynasty had a 4.0 rating among adults 18-49, just barely edging out Fox’s American Idol and ABC’s Modern Family (both 3.9) in the nationals and winning the night. (More on that Idol vs. Modern Family fight).

The return of Duck Dynasty benefited from an unexpected gift-from-the-PR-gods when British singer and animal rights activist Morrissey cancelled his planned Feb. 26 performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live at the last minute in protest of the Duck Dynasty stars appearing the same episode. Morrissey called the show’s stars — who own a family business that makes products for hunters — “animal serial killers.” READ FULL STORY

'American Idol' ratings fall as sitcoms blow up Fox's Death Star

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American Idol … it was such an awesomely destructive ratings machine.

Fox’s singing competition series used to have Nielsen numbers so big they were scary. Other networks rearranged their schedules to stay out of Idol‘s destructive path. Showrunners feared having to compete against the program that insiders called “The Death Star.”

Nowadays, that’s no space station. Idol is just another moon in the orbit of primetime, minding its own business, not causing much trouble. Thursday nights are firmly owned by CBS’ Big Bang Theory (feel free to picture Sheldon Cooper in an X-Wing fighter here). And now, Idol is edging behind ABC’s Modern Family on Wednesday nights in the adult demo.

Last night’s Idol had 13.1 million viewers and a 3.8 among adults 18-49. That’s the lowest Idol rating since 2003 and its smallest Wednesday audience since the reality show’s summertime debut in 2002. Modern Family had 10.6 million viewers and a 3.9 rating. This is the first time Modern Family has ever scored a higher rating than Idol in these morning numbers.

Now, a minor caveat. These figures will jockey a bit — Idol will likely rise a tenth in the afternoon nationals to tie Modern Family. But then Modern Family, which benefits more from DVR playback than Idol, will surge ahead once seven days of viewing are added. Either way, the overall trend is clear: Idol has been hitting record lows in comparison to both its previous telecasts and compared to top-rated rival sitcoms. The last three Wednesdays, Idol has gone from a 4.3 preliminary rating to a 4.1 last week and now to a 3.8.

How low will American Idol go this season? Nobody knows. But the Force is no longer strong with this one.

Also, last night, NBC’s Guys With Kids had its first season finale. Will it get renewed? READ FULL STORY

'Celebrity Wife Swap' gets biggest ratings ever with Kate Gosselin

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Kate Gosselin and Kendra Wilkinson set a ratings record for ABC on Tuesday night, while CBS’ latest detective drama delivered less-than golden numbers.

The second season premiere of ABC’s Celebrity Wife Swap saddled Playboy pinup Wilkinson with Gosselin’s famed mega-litter (if only you could buy patience at Costco). The show was seen by 7 million viewers and had a 2.4 rating among adults 18-49. That’s up 4 percent from last year’s preview of the celebrity version of Wife Swap last year (and up 14 percent from last year’s regular Tuesday premiere) and represents an all-time high for the show among both viewers and the demo. Next week, “wives” Coolio and Mark McGrath do a swap.

CBS had a premiere last night too — Golden Boy, the story of one detective’s rise to fame. The drama had 10.5 million viewers and a 1.8 rating in the demo. The show easily ruled its 10 p.m. time slot, but its competition was NBC’s Smash and ABC’s Body of Proof so … no trophy for pummeling those two. The episode was technically a “preview” instead of a premiere even though the drama will also air its second episode in this slot next week. Golden Boy then moves to Fridays at 9 p.m.

Also Tuesday, ABC’s The Taste, despite shifting to 9 p.m. and gaining a strong lead-in from Celebrity Wife Swap, fell to its lowest numbers ever. Body of Proof was flat with last week’s premiere. CBS’ NCIS was basically steady to rank as the night’s top show and NCIS: LA was up 7 percent. NBC was more or-less flat, with everything at a series low except New Normal. The CW and Fox were pretty much unchanged too.

Full Chart: READ FULL STORY

'Mike & Molly' falls to season low ratings

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CBS’ pleasantly plump sitcom Mike & Molly fell to a season low in the ratings last night, and it had some company on the network — 2 Broke Girls matched its series low and Rules of Engagement hit a season low. Mike & Molly had the biggest drop of the bunch, however, falling 16 percent this week (EW fan favorite HIMYM was steady).

On Fox, freshman drama The Following was down 7 percent. It’s probably too soon to say for certain, but the trend-line on this serial killer thriller has been pretty steady, wavering in the high 2s among adults 18-49. This isn’t a big hit, but Fox will gladly renew this show for a second season if it can stay close to this range. Lead-in Bones climbed a tick.

Also Monday: The lineups on ABC, NBC and The CW were basically unchanged. Here’s your full chart: READ FULL STORY

Oscars: Most-watched entertainment show in 3 years

Sunday night’s Oscars was the most-watched entertainment telecast in three years.

ABC’s broadcast of the Academy Awards delivered 40.3 million viewers and a 13.0 rating among adults 18-49. That’s up 3 percent among total viewers and a strong 11 percent  in the demo. The growth makes sense given this year’s crop of best picture contenders such as Lincoln and Argo had more box office heft than last year’s frontrunners like The Artist. Also, tapping Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane as host might have aided the show’s 18-49 appeal (Billy Crystal hosted last year).

Overall, this was the second most-watched Oscars telecast since 2005. The Oscars easily topped all other award shows this season, outdrawing the Golden Globe Awards by 20.6 million viewers and the Grammy Awards by 11.9 million viewers.

Here’s Owen Gleiberman’s review of the show.

Big audience for Robin Roberts' 'GMA' return

More than 6 million people tuned in to see Robin Roberts return to her job at Good Morning America on Wednesday, giving ABC another win in the morning show time slot.

GMA easily outranked Today in viewers (6.12 million vs. 4.93 million) and adults 25-54 (2.27 million vs. 2.24 million) on her big comeback day, according to Nielsen Fast Affiliate data.

Season to date, GMA remains the No. 1 morning news program in viewers (5.1 million) and adults 25-54 (1.9 million), and leads Today by its largest season margin in overall viewers (538,000 more than NBC’s 4.6 million) in more than 21 years. GMA is up 6% in viewers and 2% in adults 25-54 versus last year, while Today is down 15% and 21% respectively. CBS This Morning is up 8% in viewers but is flat in the demo.

ABC says GMA is enjoying its best overall season audience in seven years.

NBC ranks fifth during February sweeps -- behind Univision

After a fall filled with positive signs for NBC, the Peacock Network has suffered a major blow.

For the first time ever, Univision has so-far edged NBC out of the top four networks during the highly competitive February sweeps period, a time when ratings are traditionally important to networks as they help determine local ad rates. In the first 20 days of sweeps, NBC averaged a 1.2 rating in the 18-49 demo while Univision has averaged 1.5. CBS (*4.9), Fox (2.0), and ABC (1.7) make up the top three so far. READ FULL STORY

FX orders second season of 'The Americans'

FX has ordered a second season of The Americans that stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys. The network ordered 13 more episodes of the drama, which featured the most-watched debut of any FX series ever with 5.11 million viewers. There are still nine more episodes to air of the current season, which wraps May 1.

The Americans has quickly established itself as a key part FX’s acclaimed drama line-up,” said FX Chief John Landgraf in a statement.  “Executive Producers Joe Weisberg, Joel Fields and Graham Yost and their collaborators are telling riveting and deeply emotional stories and the performances of Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Noah Emmerich and the entire cast are simply outstanding.  The show is truly worthy of its widespread critical acclaim and we are confident that its quality will continue to yield a robust and passionate audience.”

Set in 1981 just after Ronald Reagan is elected president, The Americans focuses on a complex marriage of two KGB spies posing as Americans in suburban Washington D.C.

'Survivor' ratings improve slightly

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Did fans reset their DVRs? CBS’ Survivor ratings increased slightly for the show’s second episode of the season.

TV show viewership typically dips the week after a show’s premiere. But last night’s Survivor made slight gains among its total audience and the 18-49 demo compared to last week’s two-hour opener. Previously, I suggested Survivor‘s ratings downtrend over the years may have been hastened by CBS taking the unusual step of changing the show’s official title for every cycle (so fans with DVRs need to remember to re-program the show twice a year unlike with most other returning shows), a theory that received some pickup.

The rest of CBS’ lineup had notable movements too — both good and bad. Criminal Minds was down a tick from its last original episode two weeks ago to tie its series-low ratings, but CSI rebounded 21 percent from last week’s low.

Otherwise, Wednesday night looked a lot like last week. Survivor‘s big rival, Fox’s American Idol, was down 5 percent and topped the chart. NBC’s lineup struggled. ABC’s comedy block mostly improved slightly.

Full Chart: READ FULL STORY

'Smash' slouches lower

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Maybe it was all a bad dream.

Maybe the Smash premiere was some weird low ratings anomaly. Maybe viewers didn’t know the NBC musical drama had returned yet, or maybe millions of fans simply made other plans. So maybe last night’s second episode will show a massive surge of viewership turning Smash once again into a beacon of midseason salvation.

Maybe not: Tuesday’s Smash had 3.3 million viewers and a 0.9 rating among adults 18-49 at 10 p.m., down 25 percent from the show’s two-hour premiere two weeks ago. It was the lowest-rated show on the a major broadcast networks last night. Smash almost certainly wasn’t helped by taking a week off right after its premiere (the State of the Union address was last week). But given its debut performance it’s tough to imagine the break will ultimately make all that big of a difference.

Maybe Smash should have kept Ellis after all?

There were two premieres giving Smash a run for the worst Nielsen ratings report hangover. ABC’s crime drama Body of Proof (6.7 million, 1.2) returned down 45 percent and The CW’s new conspiracy theory thriller Cult (941, 000, 0.3) was down 25 percent from the premiere of Emily Owens. (The photo above is from Cult … I’m pointing that out because there’s a pretty good chance, given these numbers, that most of you won’t recognize it).

Meanwhile: CBS’ NCIS easily ranked as the night’s top-rated show. ABC’s Bachelor special Sean Tells All rated slightly higher than last year’s Tell All special. NBC’s New Normal and Go On hit another series low. Fox’s New Girl and Mindy Project were down about 15 percent each.

Full Chart: READ FULL STORY

'Walking Dead' ratings dip, but are still massive

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After last week’s incredible record-breaking midseason premiere ratings, you had to figure AMC’s The Walking Dead was going to have lower numbers for its second episode of the year — especially since it aired during a three-day holiday weekend.

And you’d be right. Sunday’s Walking Dead had 11 million viewers on Sunday, down a slight 11 percent. Among adults 18-49, the show delivered a 5.6 rating — easily beating all of broadcast that night (and likely all scripted broadcast shows last week, as well).

The consensus among readers was that the premiere was a let down by Walking Dead‘s usual high standards — sort of felt clunky and rushed (Andrea’s Braveheart speech to a handful of extras representing the whole town of Woodbury and Rick’s “shut up!” shouting match with the Dixons were low points). Sunday night, however, the show felt back on track and concluded with an exciting cliffhanger.

Also, here’s the L+3 DVR numbers for last week’s premiere: The episode grew 21 percent to 14.9 million viewers with three days of playback included. That’s not a huge spike on a percentage basis, but that’s probably because most fans really want to watch this show the night it airs. When you have ratings this big, who cares about DVR?

ICYMI, here’s our post-episode chats with creator Robert Kirkman and showrunner Glen Mazzara.

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