'Musical 2' puts cable in spotlight

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NEW YORK -- Last week's broadcast primetime viewership looked pretty paltry compared with Friday night's record-breaking 17.2 million viewers who tuned in to see "High School Musical 2" on Disney Channel.

While the ratings would make a network executive stand up and sing even on a regular-season night, "Musical 2" was extraordinary for cable. It was the most-watched basic cable telecast of all time and drew the best primetime audience for anything on cable or broadcast during the summer other than sports telecasts and the Olympics since Sept. 5, 1997.

"Hannah Montana," which followed "Musical 2" on Friday, averaged 10.7 million viewers, the top telecast for a series in cable history.

Network TV's most-watched program for the week ending Sunday, NBC's "America's Got Talent," barely cleared "Hannah" and couldn't come close to "Musical 2." "Talent" averaged 10.8 million viewers and a 3.1 rating/10 share in the adults 18-49 demographic for Tuesday's telecast, Nielsen Media Research said Tuesday. Monday's season finale of "Hell's Kitchen" (9.7 million, 4.5/12) was the week's top dog in adults 18-49. That gave Fox its 28th consecutive weekly win in the demo, the longest such streak for any network in 11 years. CBS racked up another win in viewership.

"Kitchen" ruled everything Monday, easily surpassing a boatload of repeats and ABC's "Fat March" (4.3 million, 1.6/5). Fox won the night with the help of a special "So You Think You Can Dance" (7.9 million, 3.0/10).

Tuesday went to NBC, with "Talent" and the half-hour "The Singing Bee" (9.7 million, 3.2/9), which tied with CBS' "Big Brother" (7.6 million, 3.2/9) for the night's lead in adults 18-49. Not doing as well was ABC's "Primetime: Crime" (6.1 million, 2.1/6 ) and especially "I-Caught" (5.2 million, 1.8/6); "I-Caught" sank to second place against a repeat "Law & Order: SVU" (7.3 million, 2.2/7).

Wednesday and Thursday belonged to Fox, with "Dance" overshadowing everything else. Wednesday's "Dance" (8.7 million, 3.3/10) won from 8-10 p.m. in both key measures against CBS' new game show "Power of 10" (7.7 million, 2.0/7) and NBC's "Last Comic Standing" (5.7 million, 2.5/7). ABC's "NASCAR in Primetime" (3.2 million, 1.2/4) failed to get out of the gate against NBC's "Dateline" (6.6 million, 2.2/7) and CBS' "CSI: NY" (8.1 million, 2.2/7 ).

It was more of the same Thursday, with the season finale of "Dance" (9.6 million, 3.7/11) winning head to head against CBS' "Big Brother" (7.5 million, 2.8/9), the only other original of the night.

Beyond "Musical 2" and "Hannah," it was a quiet night of TV on Friday. Fox won among broadcast nets with the NFL's preseason Minnesota Vikings-New York Jets game that averaged 3.9 million viewers and a 1.4/5 in adults 18-49. It just beat out the CW's "Friday Night SmackDown!" (3.9 million, 1.2/4).

Saturday's preseason San Diego Chargers-Arizona Cardinals game on CBS was barely there, averaging 2.9 million viewers and a 0.9/4 in adults 18-49.

Sunday night featured a three-way tie in the demo among CBS, NBC and Fox. NBC's preseason "Sunday Night Football" (7.1 million, 2.5/7) recovered a bit but was beaten by CBS' "Big Brother" (7.4 million, 2.9/8) as well as Fox's "Family Guy" (5.4 million, 2.8/7 at 9 p.m. and 5.9 million, 3.0/8 at 9:30 p.m.).

Among the evening newscasts, ABC's "World News With Charles Gibson" won again in viewership (8 million) and the adults 25-54 demo (1.9/8). "NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams" came in second with 7.4 million viewers and a 1.7/8, while the "CBS Evening News With Katie Couric" came in a distant third with 5.8 million viewers and a 1.4/6.

Fox (6 million, 2.3/7) was the top network in the key adults 18-49 demo, while CBS (6.7 million, 1.9/6) led in viewership, followed by ABC (4.4 million, 1.5/4), NBC (5.3 million, 1.7/5) and the CW (1.8 million, 0.6/2).

Disney Channel was the third-most-watched network of the week overall with an average of 5.8 million viewers.
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