In what is increasingly looking like a seismic shift in late-night TV viewing, CBS's Late Show With David Lettermantopped NBC's The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien for the second week in a row, according to Nielsen Media Research. It was the third time in the past four weeks that the CBS show had come out ahead. Not since February 1998, when CBS aired the Winter Olympics, has Letterman beaten his NBC competition on two consecutive weeks. But perhaps even more remarkable is the fact that ABC's Nightlinebeat both of them. Indeed it was the fourth consecutive week that the ABC News program placed first among total viewers. For the past quarter, Nightlineis up 19 percent in total viewers, while the Tonight show is off 39 percent. Last week, Nightline averaged 3.74 million viewers each night; CBS's Late Showaveraged 3.45 million; and NBC's Tonight Show, 2.71 million.
THE WANTED UNWANTED AT 10:00 P.M.
In an apparent effort to protect the Tonight show from a low-rated lead-in, NBC on Thursday moved last week's The Wantedinto the 9:00 p.m time period and scheduled its more traditional news magazine Dateline at 10:00 p.m. Last week's The Wantedepisode, which received mostly excoriating reviews from critics, drew fewer than 3 million viewers. Network executives will no doubt be keeping a close eye on the results. If Datelinesignificantly improves on The Wanted's results, it will no doubt end any further experimentation with the news-magazine-cum-reality-show hybrid that The Wantedrepresents. In a statement on Thursday, The Wanted's principals ignored last week's ratings debacle. Producers Charlie Ebersol and Adam Ciralsky said, "We are excited about our groundbreaking new TV project ... and know that viewers will be intrigued by the show."
WHERE ARE THE VIEWERS GOING? BLOGGERS GUESS
Entertainment industry bloggers seem to think there's an easy explanation for the audience erosion apparent on all the major broadcast networks this season: lousy programs. In an interview with CNN.com, Kath Skerry, founder and editor of the Give Me My Remote blog, remarked that summer programming on the networks appears to consist mostly of "filler TV -- shows that the networks may have under contract [and] need to get out regardless of the quality." But Jonathan Storm, TV critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer,indicated that it was ever thus. Back in the 1950s, he noted, "The car manufacturers came out with their new models in September, and the TV people said, 'We will give you new shows to advertise your cars on.'"Ronnie Karam of TVgasm.com said that a lot of viewers are now check out TV shows on DVD during the summer. "I think that putting television shows on DVD has changed the way a lot of people are watching," he said. "During the summer, you feel like you are really scraping the bottom of the barrel." And when the networks do launch new shows, like The Listenerand The Philanthropist, they're not receiving the kind of promotion that fall shows do, the bloggers told CNN. Jace Lacob, the writer/editor of Televisionary, remarked that the networks "really haven't gotten a grasp on their summer programming, so they were offering really random shows that nobody is really particularly interested in."
TIME WARNER GIVING DODGER FANS $10 CREDITS
Time Warner Cable is apparently trying to placate angry subscribers who were outraged at the cable company's running a commercial during a telecast of an Dodgers/Reds baseball game when the Dodgers' Manny Ramirez hit a grand-slam home run to break a 2-2 tie (and eventually win the game for the club). The website L.A. Observed reported Thursday that Time Warner has begun contacting subscribers who complained and not only apologized but offered them a $10.00 credit on their cable bills. A standard note read (awkwardly) in part: "Please accept our sincere apologies for the inconvenience you had during the transmission of the Dodgers game, I know how frustrating could that be especially during the time of homerun, I have applied a credit for this inconvenience of $10.00, it will be reflected on your next bill statement."