Dick Clark special tops New Year's Eve

Carson Daly's NBC show improves slightly

"Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve With Ryan Seacrest" on ABC continued to rule as the most-watched New Year's Eve countdown special. "Clark" averaged an 8.5 metered-market household rating during its telecast from 11:30 p.m.-1 a.m.

Yet this is the third consecutive year Clark's rating has declined in the overnights. "Rockin' Eve" pulled a 9.5 preliminary number in 2005, a 9.1 in 2006 and an 8.8 in 2007.

Primary competitor "New Year's Eve With Carson Daly" on NBC earned a 5.0 rating during its 11 p.m.-12:30 a.m. telecast. By a slim margin, this is Daly's highest metered-market average in the show's five telecasts to date. Daly's program has held steady the past few years, then ticked up a tenth this round.

It would be premature to conclude that Clark's show has lost viewers this year compared to Daly's, however. These are local-market averages for a live event, and the numbers will likely shift when national tally is released next week. 

If the numbers hold steady, this the lowest rating for a Clark-hosted "Rockin' Eve" since at least 2000. The show's lowest all-time number was in 2004, when Regis Philbin stepped in after Clark suffered a stroke. In 2005, Clark returned to the program and Seacrest was added to the ticket. All told, Clark has hosted 36 of the show's 37 telecasts. Though some viewers find Clark's physical condition a grim reminder of mortality during what's supposed to be a hopeful calendar-turning event, the show's steep ratings plunge when Philbin hosted and relative recovery in 2005 suggest viewers prefer Clark on the show. The "Rockin' Eve" downward trend also started before Clark's stroke, with declines posted during each of the first few years of the decade.

In one sense, both Clark and Daly's performances are encouraging.The countdown events are holding up better in recent years than some other types of specials, such as award shows.
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