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'One' Miserable Showing: 'Idol' Knockoff Sets a Record

By John Maynard
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 26, 2006

TV viewers may have had enough of aspiring singers.

"The One: Making a Music Star," ABC's answer to "American Idol," opened last week to historically low numbers for the network. The premiere audience of about 3.08 million viewers July 18 represented the smallest audience ever for a series premiere among the original three networks, according to Nielsen Media Research.

It's a 16-year low if you throw Fox into the mix. In the summer of 1990, when the network was four years old, its "Glory Days" debuted with 3.07 million viewers when the network was programming just three nights a week.

A repeat airing of "The One" last Wednesday garnered just 2 million viewers, and the results show that followed could manage only 2.6 million.

The devastatingly low numbers plunged ABC to a fourth-place finish for the week.

Meanwhile, CBS's "Rock Star: Supernova" mustered 5.9 million viewers July 18, with a million fewer watching the results show the next night.

Even NBC's "America's Got Talent," which features its share of singers, seems to be weakening. It did score 9.9 million viewers last Wednesday, finishing second for the week, but that was its smallest audience yet for a performance show.

The beauty pageant also continues to take its lumps on broadcast television.

Sunday night's Miss Universe contest, which bestowed the honor on Miss Puerto Rico, drew 9.7 million viewers. Although up slightly from last year when it aired on a Monday, it's down nearly 1 million from 2004's audience and way down from the glory years when upward of 38 million people would tune in.

Earlier this year, the Miss America pageant debuted on cable after ABC dumped it because of low ratings.

On cable last week, Tuesday's premiere of the Sci-Fi Channel's "Eureka," about a top-secret town full of geniuses working for the government, scored 4 million viewers. It was the network's highest-rated series telecast ever. And yes, it beat out ABC's "The One" by about 1 million viewers.

The Disney Channel movie franchise continues to nab relatively big audiences. Friday night's "Read It and Weep," about a teenage girl whose private journal becomes a bestseller, drew 5.4 million viewers, second only to TNT's "The Closer" among scripted cable shows.

The top 10 programs, in order, were: CBS's "CSI: Miami"; NBC's "America's Got Talent" and "Miss Universe"; CBS's "CSI"; Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance"; CBS's "Two and a Half Men" and "Without a Trace"; Fox's "House"; and CBS's "CSI: N.Y." and "60 Minutes."

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