March 18, 2009
Why was Jon Stewart's takedown of Jim Cramer good for the economy? How much did ER love having George Clooney back? Why is it maybe not so bad to be saddled with a Friday-night time slot, after all? And if Ugly Betty is a bubble show, what do the numbers say about its renewal dream?
The answers-and more questions-in this week's TV ratings pop quiz:
1. Why should Stewart consider berating Wall Street "experts" more regularly? Because it's a rare treat these days to read good business news, and Stewart's The Daily Show showdown with Cramer was good for business. The fake but relevant newscast averaged 2.1 million viewers last week, per Nielsen's latest cable rankings, up 17 percent from the previous week. Cramer's own Mad Money averaged 317,000, likewise up 17 percent. Cramer recorded his biggest audience (378,000) on the night of the face-off; Stewart needed no such help-his biggest show (2.3 million) came the night before he declawed the Bear Stearns booster.
2. When was the last time ER saw a bigger night than the 10.9 million it scored for the Clooney and friends episode? Feb. 15, 2007. Or more than two years ago.
3. What's the nice thing about airing on Friday? DVRs work just as well on that night as any other. If anything, they might work harder. Among Fox's scripted shows, its Friday cult shows Dollhouse and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles are posting the biggest viewership gains once a week's worth of DVR playback is added in: about 25 percent and 16 percent, respectively. Then again, DVR use alone didn't get lipstick jungle a full-season order.
4. Ugly Betty: pass or fail for next fall? To be determined. On one hand, the only original ABC scripted series that managed fewer viewers than Ugly Betty's 7.1 million was the already canceled Life On Mars (4.5 million). On the other hand, the struggling show posted its best numbers in three weeks-just in time to impress for pilot season, craftily enough.
5. How far has Heroes fallen? Right out of broadcast TV's Top 25 standings for 18-to-49-year-old viewers. The all-important demo was dominated, per usual, by Tuesday's American Idol, Wednesday's American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy.
6. Isn't Idol over yet? Actually, last week was the first week since the opening leg of the Hollywood round that the franchise topped 25 million viewers with each of its telecasts. Tuesday's Idol (25.8 million) was the week's biggest show, followed by Wednesday's Idol (25.5 million), Dancing With The Stars (22.8 million), CSI (17.1 million) and a big-enough Desperate Housewives (14.8 million). On cable, the season premiere of the Idol preshow, Idol Tonight (387,000), was way up over last season's opener.
7. If you don't count wrestling, and you can't say "Hannah Montana," what was cable's No. 1 prime-time show? A Disney Channel outing for the 2006 animated hit, Cars (4.7 million). Among new scripted shows, Hannah Montana (4.4 million) was tops, followed by Wizards of Waverly Place (4.2 million), Sonny with a Chance (4 million) and, completing the Disney sweep, Phineas and Ferb (3.7 million). Larry The Cable Guy distinguished himself, if that's the word, with a top-rated Comedy Central roast (4.1 million). Oh, and USA, home of WWE Raw (cable-best 5.4 million average for back-to-back episodes), thinks wrestling counts.
8. With top chef's latest season cooked, what was cable's top reality draw? The fifth-season premiere of Ghost Hunters (2.7 million), which just edged Jon and Kate Plus 8 (2.6 million). E!'s Keeping Up With The Kardashians (1.4 million) held well after a big premiere week (E! Online is a division of E! Entertainment.)