Waiver works wonders for SAG Awards ratings

TLC's 'Miss America' turns heads

Sunday's telecast of the SAG Awards delivered its best ratings in major demographics since it first appeared on cable in 1998.

More than 6.1 million viewers watched the two-hour telecast on TNT and TBS, Nielsen Media Research said Tuesday. That's higher than last year, which had been the best ratings in the history of the SAG Awards.

Meanwhile, a change of channel position and format was just the thing for Saturday's "Miss America Live!" delivering for TLC the highest ratings since the pageant moved to cable TV.

"Miss America" averaged 3.6 million viewers and was the night's top cable program in adults 18-34 and female demos, according to Nielsen.

That's up 52% compared with 2007's telecast, which averaged 2.4 million viewers, and up 18% from 2006's 3.1 million viewers, both on CMT.

This year's telecast was reworked for its arrival on TLC, the third network for the pageant since 2004. CMT dropped "Miss America" last year after the Viacom-owned network had signed a long-term deal when ABC decided against renewal after record-low ratings for broadcast TV in 2004.

Because of the writers strike, CBS' People's Choice Awards telecast Jan. 9 crashed badly in the ratings with 6 million viewers, and the Golden Globes ended up with a news conference format that also failed in the ratings. The SAG Awards were the only Hollywood awards-season telecast so far this year to get the blessing of the writers guild.

Sunday's ratings were split between TBS (3.3 million) and TNT (2.8 million), with 1.5 million 18-34 viewers and 2.9 million 18-49 viewers all told. It was the best ratings in each of those demos since 1998 as well. Viewership was up 4% compared with a year ago, while 18-34 was up 45% year-over-year and 18-49 was up 10%.