Despite his beauty, his 11 Olympic medals, his dumb-as-hair-edness, his impressive abs, Ryan Lochte seems not destined to become The Next Big Thing in reality TV.

A mere 807,000 viewers tuned in at 10 p.m. Sunday to enjoy the debut of his highly hyped E! reality series, “What Would Ryan Lochte Do?” — a satisfyingly shirtless look at the swimmer who made headlines at last summer’s London Olympics for his competition victories and unintentionally funny interviews: Jeah!

“Being Ryan Lochte is . . . fun,” Lochte revealed in the first episode, disclosing that he came up with his trademark shout-out, “Jeah!” by adding a “J” sound to the word “Yeah!”

How could this show not be a hit?

And yet, as E! was unveiling its reality star Lochte, about twice as many people were instead watching a rerun — a rerun! — of Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Atlanta.”


E! had done its darnedest to launch Lochte’s TV career. The network gave him the best of all possible lead-ins:

Ryan Seacrest.

Not just Ryan Seacrest. Ryan Seacrest interviewing . . .

The Kardashians.

Seacrest and the K’s scored an impressive 1.5 million viewers.

FNC and A&E score

During the week of the Boston Marathon bombings and the Texas fertilizer plant explosion, what was the most watched cable TV program?

A&E’s “Duck Dynasty.”

For the first time in nearly a decade, Fox News Channel topped the weekly cable network ratings for a non-election week. In both total day and in prime time, FNC pulled ahead of perennial cable front-runner USA network last week.

Excluding election weeks, the last time FNC ranked No. 1 was in August 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.

FNC’s prime-time audience averaged 2.9 million viewers; USA averaged just more than 2.6 million.

CNN also moved up the cable hierarchy, finishing No. 3 for the week, with an average of 2 million prime-time viewers.

(For comparison’s sake, CBS — the most-watched television network in the country, broadcast or cable — clocked 8.3 million viewers that week.)

Friday’s day-long dragnet — culminating in the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev about 8:45 p.m. — goosed the FNC and CNN ratings considerably. Both networks’ most-watched programs last week were their 8-to-9 p.m. Friday coverage of that capture. That slot was nearly two hours after cable news reporters on the street, and viewers at home, heard about 30 shots fired, after which police vehicles raced past camera crews to the house at which the surviving Tsarnaev was found hiding in a covered boat.

FNC’s coverage in that hour topped out at 7.6 million viewers; CNN’s coverage in that time slot averaged 6.8 million.

But with all those cable-news records achieved last week, the most-watched cable program in the tragically dramatic week was A&E’s fairly scripted reality comedy series “Duck Dynasty.”

About 9 million fans flocked to the silly show, about the excessively bearded Robertson clan and its duck-call empire in West Monroe, La.

To put that in context: NBC News boasted that more viewers tuned in to its Brian Williams-anchored evening news than any other newscast during the week — 9.83 million of ’em.

To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to tvblog.