Winners & Losers: ‘America’s Got Talent’ becomes country’s favorite sport


Japan's Saki Kumagai scores the decisive goal past United States goalkeeper Hope Solo. (Michael Sohn/AP)

WINNERS

l  World Cup and “America’s Got Talent.” Women’s soccer was the second-most-watched program in the United States last week: An audience of 13.5 million people watched Japan beat the United States in the World Cup final. That makes it one of the five most-watched telecasts in ESPN’s history. Impressive — but no match for America’s new fave summer sport: “America’s Got Talent,” which last week copped more than 14 million viewers, featuring a woman somersaulting from a thin board suspended 20 feet above a bed of nails and a family riding motorcycles in a cage.

l  “Breaking Bad.” It’s no women’s soccer, but the fourth-season debut of AMC’s high-school teacher turned meth dealer drama attracted an average of 2.6 million viewers Sunday — a series best.

LOSERS:

l  “Men of a Certain Age.” About five months after TNT’s programming chief told a roomful of reporters that ratings aren’t everything (when defending “Men”), TNT said it was dumping the show — because of ratings. “[The] audience simply hasn’t built to the point where we can continue the series,” the network said Friday of the series, which stars Ray Romano, Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher.

Asked about “Men’s” future in January at Winter TV Press Tour 2011, TNT chief Michael Wright insisted: “We couldn’t be happier with the show. . . . We look for a lot of different metrics on TNT. Obviously we want big ratings success, but we also want attention and good reviews from critics. This show works on a lot of levels for us.”

In the end, “Men” got thrown over when TNT fell for what it takes for a younger-skewing model: a remake of “Dallas.” Seriously.

l  Major League Baseball All-Star Game. This year’s All-Star Game got cleated by its time-slot competitor “America’s Got Talent” (see: Winners) Tuesday night and wound up with the smallest audience in its TV history: 10.97 million viewers.

l  ESPY Awards. “Saturday Night Live” star Seth Meyers hosted. The Dallas Mavericks cleaned up. Nobody cared. The trophy show attracted fewer than 2 million viewers — the smallest crowd in the 16 years that it has been rated by Nielsen.

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