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'South Park' NSA surveillance spoof gets big ratings

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South Park. It’s the 17th season. And yet Wednesday night’s premiere delivered the animated comedy’s biggest rating in years.

The Comedy Central hit came back to 4.3 million viewers across three telecasts, with the first airing delivering the most viewers for the show since 2011 and the highest young male demo ratings since 2010.

The episode titled “Let Go, Let Gov” mocked the NSA’s mass surveillance scandal (clip below). In the episode, Cartman played the role of an Edward Snowden-style whistleblower who infiltrates the NSA and rants about privacy violations — yet can’t stop revealing his every thought online to anybody who will listen.

South Park fans had a longer-than-usual wait for new episodes this year, given that creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s decision to produce fewer episodes (10 per year). On Sunday, South Park also won its fifth Emmy for outstanding animated program. READ FULL STORY

'Revolution' disarmed in season 2 premiere ratings

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If you’re NBC, you’re opening up Nielsen’s email with Wednesday night’s ratings and peeking at it through your fingers like it’s a horror movie: You know the numbers are going to be scary, you just don’t know how scary.

NBC moved Revolution from having a Voice lead-in on Monday nights to self-start on its troubled Wednesdays this fall, and gave the coveted reality show lead-in to new James Spader drama The Blacklist instead. Even with typically having a Voice lead-in, Revolution had fallen off a fair amount through its first run of episode. Last night season two debuted. How did the post-apocalyptic drama hold up? Let’s take a peek:

Revolution had 6.8 million viewers and a 1.8 adults 18-49 rating. That’s down 56 percent from its series premiere, and a bit lower than what the show averaged at the end of last season, as well. Revolution also came in behind ABC comedies, CBS’ Survivor and Fox’s The X Factor. Yup, Revolution disarmed by Simon Cowell, who had a 15 percent bump this week. You can make an argument that this rating isn’t nearly as bad as it could have been, and that NBC was sure doing worse in this slot last season. And there’s certainly logic to that. It’s just tough to get excited about fourth place.

There was some clearly positive news for NBC: The two-hour Law & Order SVU return jumped 29 percent thanks to having a semi-decent lead-in.

Over on ABC, new comedy Back in the Game (7.9 million, 2.2) was an improvement vs. The Neighbors debut in this slot last year.

Otherwise… otherwise … READ FULL STORY

'Agents of SHIELD' ratings a Hulk smash

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Fall’s buzziest new drama had a super-powered premiere Tuesday night: ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — a show so big it takes two company names to officially describe it — delivered 11.9 million viewers and a 4.6 adults 18-49 rating. That makes S.H.I.E.L.D. TV’s highest-rated drama debut in nearly four years (since ABC’s V premiere in November, 2009).

That adult demo number is particular impressive given the show’s time slot. S.H.I.E.L.D. had to self-start at 8 p.m. — no lead-in — and ran against huge competition: NBC’s The Voice and CBS’ NCIS are two of the most popular shows on television. And how did it stand up? S.H.I.E.L.D. (recap here) actually managed to tie the two-hour The Voice overall in the demo (4.6) — and beat it head-to-head during the 8 p.m. hour — while trouncing the return of NCIS in the demo (3.4), though obviously losing among total viewers (19.4 million).

S.H.I.E.L.D. may be a new show, but it dove into the scrum with with a familiar brand. The Marvel universe has been bombarding theaters for years with Thor, Captain America, Iron Man and The Avengers. S.H.I.E.L.D. is basically a TV-sized spin-off. And tapping pre-existing fantasy universes was already proven to work with two recent primetime shows — ABC’s fairy tale-stuffed Once Upon a Time and The CW’s DC Comics lynchpin Arrow. Now Fox is getting into the game by developing a Batman-verse series. READ FULL STORY

Daytime ratings: 'The Talk' tied with 'The View'

The broadcast networks may have only begun the new TV season on Monday but the race for dominance kicked off much earlier in the world of daytime talk shows.

New hosts on the The View, not to mention the revelation of those crazy secrets on The Talk, didn’t help to unseat Dr. Phil; he still remains the No. 1 talker in daytime among women 25-54, according to Nielsen results through the week of Sept. 9. Meanwhile, kudos to Michael Strahan, who’s been a great addition to Kelly and Michael. He and Ms. Ripa are currently ranked No. 2 in the key demo.

So far, though, the most interesting race is occurring between the ladies of The Talk and The View. The chatfests are neck-in-neck in the key female demographic.

Time for some more secrets to be revealed?

READ FULL STORY

'Downton Abbey' scores its highest U.K. premiere numbers

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And so the temptation to look at online spoilers begins. Downton Abbey‘s fourth season debuted in Britain Sunday night and averaged 9.5 million viewers, according to ITV. That’s a huge 39.7 percent share, The Guardian reports, nearly twice the percentage of American audiences that typically tune in to watch the U.S.’s top program, NBC’s Sunday night NFL game.

The season 4 premiere was up half a million from the 9 million viewers who tuned in for the start of season 2 and season 3. The series premiere averaged 7.7 million in 2010.

Season 4 debuts Jan. 5 in the U.S. on PBS.

Emmys 2013: Biggest audience since 2005

UPDATED: CBS’s telecast of the 65th Annual Primetime Emmys attracted its largest audience since 2005 and its best adults 18-49 rating since 2006.

The three-hour, 15-minute telecast averaged 17.6 million viewers, as well as a 5.8 rating in adults 25-54, a 4.9 rating in adults 18-49 and a 4.5 in adults 18-34, according to Nielsen.  It was up 26% in adults 18-49 (from 3.9/10 last year and up 33 percent in viewers (from 13.26 million).

Overall, though, NBC was No. 1 for the night in adults 18-49, adults 18-34 and adults 25-54 thanks to its coverage of the Chicago Bears-Pittsburgh Steelers game. More to come…

'Duck Dynasty' doesn't help Tim Allen's sitcom

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The mighty Ducks failed to give a boost to Tim Allen’s sitcom Friday night.

The third season premiere of Last Man Standing (6.6 million viewers, 1.5 adults 18-49 rating) was down 25 percent from last year’s premiere despite the Duck Dynasty gang stopping by.

At 8:30 p.m., the second season premiere of The Neighbors (4.6 million, 1.2) did pretty much what you expected in its new Friday time slot. ABC’s wacky aliens-next-door sitcom was down 37 percent from its regular slot on Wednesdays last season. Neighbors was also down 20 percent from its Last Man Standing lead-in.

At 9 p.m., the return of Shark Tank (6.7 million, 1.7) sighed in frustration. The entrepreneurial reality hit was down a tenth from last season’s premiere, but with that Neighbors lead-in, you can’t really blame the Tank. Still, that was enough for the sharks to easily top Friday night.

More ex-fans for 'X Factor': Ratings lowest ever

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So Simon … do you want to join NBC’s America’s Got Talent next summer or return to Fox’s American Idol?

Because a fourth season of The X Factor probably isn’t going to happen.

The broadcast season hasn’t even officially started yet and Factor has been bombing, delivering ratings roughly 38 percent lower than last fall in its first couple weeks on the air. Thursday night’s episode fell to 6.1 million viewers and an unprecedented 1.9 in the demo, slipping 14 percent from last week’s two-hour edition. Broadcast competition was soft, with Factor facing repeats and the modestly rated summer finales of ABC’s Wipeout (4.4 million, 1.2) and NBC’s Million Second Quiz (5.4 million, 1.4), the latter hosted by Cowell’s former Idol band-mate Ryan Seacrest.

Given that Factor will start facing heavy competition next week like original episodes of CBS’ The Big Bang Theory, it’s easy to imagine its demo rating slipping lower into the teens. Plus, NBC’s The Voice is about to launch. Voice doesn’t air on the same nights as X Factor, yet its presence certainly can’t help matters. Critics, including our EW’s Annie Barrett, have been pretty brutal about Factor Ver. 3.0, which has yet another revamped judging panel that includes Paulina Rubio and Kelly Rowland.

Yet Fox has cause for optimism for other slots on the schedule: New drama Sleepy Hollow surprised with an impressive opener on Monday, and the network’s new Tuesday comedies improved their time slots.

Fall TV: Six toughest time slot battles (and which show will win)

It’s war! Next week broadcasters shove the bulk of their new shows into the spotlight and anxiously count how many viewers show up to watch. Even in this era of heavy DVR use, a show’s time slot still matters plenty — just ask NBC’s Revolution, which was hugely boosted whenever it ran behind original episodes of The Voice last season (or any show that runs against The Voice, for that matter). Here are six of the most interesting new top time-period battles this fall — and who we think will win.

'The Talk': Most-watched premiere week ever

Looks like revealing all those secrets really paid off for The Talk: CBS’ daytime talk show posted its largest audience ever for its fourth season premiere last week.

For the week ending Sept. 15, the hour-long chatfest averaged 2.8 million viewers, up 20% over last year’s premiere audience of 2.33 million viewers.  Among women 25-54, the show also averaged 1.2/8, also up 20% over last year’s 1.0/6. It also matched its all-time high in the demo.

Last week, The Talk’s five hosts revealed some personal secrets. Julie Chen garnered the most attention for exposing how she got plastic surgery on her eyelids while Sara Gilbert said she realized she was gay while dating Johnny Galecki.

'Survivor' down, but CBS still wins night

The premiere of Survivor: Blood V. Water, along with the season finale of Big Brother, helped CBS to win the last Wednesday before the new season in adults 18-49.

CBS averaged a 2.5 rating/8 share and 8.1 million viewers  — enough to squeak out a win, according to Nielsen. But Survivor, which is pitting previous players with relatives, certainly didn’t break any ratings records. The premiere was down 19% from last year’s fall Survivor: Philippines (3.2/10 on 9/19/12, 8-9:30p) and earned its lowest-rated fall premiere ever. Maybe we should blame the so-not-wanted return of that ornery player Colton?

Big Brother, which was won by Andy Herren, the least offensive player of the summer, posted a 2.4/7, up 4% from last week.

Fox came in second in the key demo (2.2/7) with the second week of The X Factor. The net boasts that it was up 2% from last week’s premiere in viewers (6.6 million vs. 6.5 million). NBC, meanwhile, won the night in viewers (9.2 million) but came in third in the key demo (2.0/6) with a special run of Million Second Quiz (1.2/4) and part 2 finale of America’s Got Talent (2: 2.5/7, up 14% from last week).

ABC and CW aired annoying reruns. Who’s ready for some originals already?

'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' ratings boost Fox's comedy block

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Fox’s new comedies didn’t exactly blow up the Nielsens on Tuesday night, yet Dads and Brooklyn Nine-Nine improved their slots compared to last fall and helped prop up the return of New Girl.

Dads premiered to 5.6 million viewers and a 2.1 adult demo rating, up 24 percent from the debut of Raising Hope at 8 p.m. last year. Brooklyn Nine-Nine opened to 6 million viewers and a 2.5 rating at 8:30 p.m., up 19 percent from the first episode of the short-lived Ben and Kate.

That helped New Girl (5.6 million, 2.9) rise up a tenth a point for its third season premiere. Yet returning companion series The Mindy Project (4.0 million, 1.9) fell 21 percent from last fall’s series opener.

Let’s be clear: Nobody is jumping up and down at Fox over the Dads or Brooklyn numbers. I suspect the network had higher hopes for Andy Samberg’s well-reviewed Brooklyn in particular, a show that some critics felt was the best new comedy this year. And Dads, well, critics at the network’s summer TV press tour reacted to that pilot like Fox was rolling out “Springtime for Hitler” — so any non-bomb rating is a relief for the brass. Point is: Neither performance is great, yet both are workable. And coming off Monday’s clear-win with the premiere of Sleepy Hollow, Fox is off to a not-too-shabby start.

For more on that, here’s EW’s take on the Dads pilot and Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, ABC did something interesting last night: Ran Iron Man 2. Can you guess why? …. READ FULL STORY

'Sons of Anarchy' premiere is Tuesday's No. 1 show

Sons of Anarchy‘s shocking season 6 premiere paid off as far as ratings are concerned. Coming in as Tuesday’s No. 1 show, according to Nielsen ratings, SOA topped all broadcast and cable programs in the following demographics: Adults 18-49, Adults 18-34, Adults 25-54, Men 18-49, Men 18-34, Men 25-54, Women 18-49 and Women 18-34.

Last night’s episode also set a series high across those demographics on a live and same-day basis with 5.87 million total viewers. Adding in encore telecasts, the total rises to 8.09 million viewers.

The show’s ratings saw a significant improvement from its season 5 debut, with an increase of 13 percent in Adults 18-49 and Adults 25-54, a 43 percent increase in Women 18-34, and a 35 percent increase in Women 18-49.

Awaiting more data, the episode is likely to become FX’s top-rated single telecast in history.

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