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Tuning In

- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 22, 2008

Fox rules ratings

A dominant Fox is set to be crowned the winner of the 2007-08 television season, one the broadcast business — and perhaps even Fox — would just as soon forget, Variety notes.

The writers strike, along with the rising popularity of DVRs and the increased availability of programming on multiple platforms, conspired to make this season the lowest-rated on record for the broadcasters. There also was a dearth of breakout hits, with no new show emerging as the industry's savior.

Of course, the broadcasters have been losing audience share to cable for years — but this season saw the most troubling year-to-year declines yet, Variety says.

In a season when overall television usage among young adults was up slightly, the top five English-language broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and CW) will finish with a downturn of 10 percent among adults in the 18-to-49 demographic, and their overall audience average (41.5 million viewers) is off 7 percent from the 2006-07 campaign (44.8 million), according to Nielsen.

By comparison, ad-supported cable saw a 9 percent increase in the 18-to-49 demo and a 7 percent jump in total viewers (51.6 million vs. 48.1 million).

"The strike made this year an anomaly," said Fox Entertainment chairman Peter Liguori, "but we all should look at what happened to those viewership levels and be shocked into being more aggressive about our thinking. No one knows what will happen with summer viewing and into the fall."

Fox, which benefited from airing the Super Bowl this season, is up 5 percent versus last season — and it's the only network showing gains. CBS, which aired the Super Bowl a year ago, is down the most (19 percent), while ABC and CW are off 14 percent and NBC 10 percent.

For the first time, Fox also will finish the season as the most-watched network overall, with its 11.1 million viewers beating out traditional leader CBS (10.5 million). The Eye, which has won most weeks down the stretch, likely would have captured its sixth straight total-viewers crown if not for the writers strike, Variety says.

The performance and results editions of Fox's "American Idol" remained the top-rated programs in both adults 18 to 49 and total viewers even though the show, which concluded its seventh season last night, at long last began to show mortallike signs of ratings erosion.

Working from a smaller base, MyNetwork TV made some strides in its second season, rising 33 percent in the 18-to-49 demographic and 36 percent in total viewers (1.1 million vs. 835,000 for 2007).

Waist management

Cable's Style Network has ordered a reality series featuring an obese Georgia woman's attempts to lose weight, TVWeek.com says, citing a story from the Hollywood Reporter.

"Ruby," which chronicles Ruby Gettinger's weight struggles, will debut later this year, the trade publication reports.

The show will begin in the fall. Nine episodes (including an hour-long premiere and eight half-hours) have been ordered, THR says.

'Moonlight' protest

Fans of the canceled CBS freshman drama "Moonlight" are planning to hold a rally outside the gate of the Warner Bros. studio in Burbank, Calif. tomorrow at 2 p.m. to thank the studio, cast and crew for the series and possibly motivate another network to pick up the series, MediaWeek.com reports.

Lisa Gerry of Lakewood, Calif., who sent out a notice about the rally, says the event is to "support Warner Brothers, Silver Pictures and 'Moonlight' and is not a protest against CBS."

She says Moonlight fans from around the country originally planned to fly to Los Angeles during the Memorial Day weekend to attend MoonlightCon 2008 until the show was not renewed by CBS during its May 14 upfront scheduling announcement for next season. Now there are plans for the rally instead.

"Moonlight" fans also are sponsoring an ad to run in the Hollywood Reporter and Variety. Miss Gerry says the ads have the same purpose as the rally — to motivate another network to pick up the series.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports.