No matter the buzz for YouTube and other Internet video sites this summer, Americans still love the boob tube. Summer primetime viewing was right on par with last year, according to Nielsen Media Research. For the sixth straight summer, ad-supported cable scored with original programming, growing its audience a full percentage point and commanding a 62.1% share of the primetime household viewing audience.
Broadcast, on the other hand, relied on reruns and reality shows, losing both households and viewers 18-49 and eking out its lowest summer share ever with 31.1%. Here is a scorecard of a few of this summer’s high and low performers.
Fox: Strong numbers for So You Think You Can Dance, Hell’s Kitchen and reruns of House helped make Fox the only broadcast network with summer-to-summer gains. It jumped 12% in households.
NBC: The network was flat in household ratings, but America’s Got Talent and Last Comic Standing helped it to a 16% gain over last year in the 18-49 demo.
USA: Wrestling, solid performances by originals, including Monk, and a huge 7.4 million viewers for a July showing of Pirates of the Caribbean helped the network easily top the basic-cable charts with an average 2.9 million total viewers, up 25% from last summer.
AMC: With about 10 million viewers, the network’s first original movie, Broken Trail,was the most viewed cable program of the summer and boosted the network 13% over last year.
ABC: The network had a dismal summer in the ratings, down 10% in households and 10% in 18-49s after moving last year’s hit Dancing With the Stars to fall. New reality shows The One: Making of a Music Star and One Ocean View were yanked before they finished, as were low-performing Lost reruns.
CBS: Although the network claimed the biggest share of households for the summer, it was down 5% in 18-49s. CSI struggled, and Big Brother disappointed on Sunday nights.
Spike: The network’s first scripted original, Blade, couldn’t hold an audience, and Spike dropped 15% year-to-year in 18-49, to 702,000.
Fox News: Although still the most-viewed news network by far, it was down 22% from last summer to
1.5 million viewers, continuing the audience declines that the network has seen all year.