Dancing with the Stars
This could be another one of those "Who knew?" TV summers.
Ballroom dancing? Evander Holyfield? Seinfeld's J. Peterman? Trista Sutter! It's an unlikely mix that helped make Dancing with the Stars last week's No. 1 show, with 15 million viewers. It also led the competition in viewers 18 to 49.
If you've missed it, here's the premise: Each week a celebrity (and that term is used loosely) performs with a professional ballroom dancer who has helped train them in the rumba, cha-cha and other steps that haven't been seen on the networks since the advent of color TV. Then viewers and a panel of experts judge the pairs and award the winners a trophy. That's right, a trophy.
Dancing with the Stars has given ABC its best summer ratings for an original episode of an entertainment show since Who Wants to Be a Millionaire was still on fire in 2000. Despite its unlikely format, the show has been a huge hit in the U.K. (as Strictly Come Dancing), so ABC execs believed their version had a shot this summer. But they were still a little concerned that younger viewers would be less inclined to watch ballroom dancing.
No worries. While half the show's audience is over 50, according to Nielsen Media Research, the appeal of Dancing with the Stars is so broad that it's drawing in young viewers as well. The show was No. 6 for the week with 18- to 34-year-olds. And if its success on the BBC is any indication, it will only get bigger in the coming weeks.
"The show is pretty much the same as [in] the U.K. As the weeks progress, the competition gets more intense," judge Bruno Tonioli told TV Guide. "You know when they smell the blood. It's like the first round of a boxing match."
How have the other new summer reality series fared in the ratings so far? Let's look:
Hit Me Baby One More Time: Most rock stars don't age well, and neither has this NBC show. In its second week, it drew 7.3 million viewers, down 18 percent from its premiere. The drop among 18- to 49-year-olds was even bigger.
Hell's Kitchen: Chef Ramsey's swearing and Dewberry's man-boobs haven't scared viewers away from Fox's cooking contest. It's now the top-rated show among viewers 18 to 49 on Monday night, showing growth each week.
The Scholar: The ABC series is probably No. 1 in the time period among high-school newspaper editors and chess-club presidents. But not too many others.
Beauty and the Geek: Ashton Kutcher's creation is now the top-rated show on WB.
Fire Me... Please: The CBS contest, in which competitors try to get canned from various jobs, had a strong opening. It was the most-watched entertainment show with the 18-to-49 crowd last Tuesday.