MEDIA
09/11/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

ABC Ratings Hit Record Low In Demo, Narrowly Miss Total Viewers Low

ABC set one ratings low last week and narrowly missed another thanks to Regis and "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?"

The New York Times' Bill Carter notes that the network set its third record for lowest Adults 18-49 primetime ratings this summer, averaging just a 1.1 demo rating, according to Nielsen figures.

The AP notes, however, that the return of "Millionaire" saved the network from the brink of a total viewers record low. Its 3.5 million total viewer averaged paled against CBS' 6.2 million, NBC's 5.9 million, and Fox's 5.3 million total viewer averages. Sunday night's "Millionaire" averaged 7 million total viewers and lifted ABC to just above its record low, which was set last August.

Full AP article below (via):

NEW YORK -- Regis Philbin has saved ABC again - this time from embarrassment.

The first night of a two-week run of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" prime-time specials on Sunday was seen by 7 million people, Nielsen Media Research said. That's very different from summer 1999, when the show had audiences as big as 22 million the first time out.

Yet it was twice what ABC averaged in prime time last week. ABC's average of 3.48 million viewers was the second-lowest in the network's history, Nielsen said. Without Philbin, ABC would no doubt have a lower average than the 3.46 million it had the same week in August 2008, its low-water mark. Philbin was credited by some for "saving" ABC with the original "Millionaire" when the network was in a ratings trough.

"Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" gave ABC its biggest summer audience on a Sunday for a nonsporting event in two years.

CBS' lineup of reruns helped CBS win the week, but the strength of "America's Got Talent" and a Saturday night National Football League exhibition game led NBC to a solid second-place showing.

CBS averaged 6.2 million viewers (4.1 rating, 7 share), NBC had 5.9 million (3.8, 7), Fox 5.3 million (3.2, 6) and ABC a 2.2 rating and 4 audience share. My Network TV had 1.4 million viewers (0.9, 2), the CW 970,000 (0.7, 1) and the ION Network 660,000 (0.4, 1).

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision averaged 3 million viewers (1.6 rating, 3 share), Telemundo had 870,000 and TeleFutura 830,000 viewers (both 0.4, 1) and Azteca 210,000 (0.1, 0).

NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 7.6 million viewers (5.0, 11). ABC's "World News" was second with 6.5 million (4.4, 10) and the "CBS Evening News" had 5.1 million viewers (3.6, 8).

A ratings point represents 1,145,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 114.5 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of Aug. 3-9, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "America's Got Talent" (Tuesday), NBC, 12.96 million; "America's Got Talent," (Wednesday), NBC, 10.67 million; "NCIS," CBS, 9.89 million; "So You Think You Can Dance," (Thursday), Fox, 9.57 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 9.5 million; "Two and a Half Men," CBS, 9.46 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 8.39 million; "Wipeout," ABC, 8.02 million; "CSI: NY," CBS, 7.99 million; NFL Exhibition: Buffalo vs. Tennessee, NBC, 7.92 million.

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ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox and My Network TV are units of News Corp. NBC and Telemundo are owned by General Electric Co. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks. TeleFutura is a division of Univision. Azteca America is a wholly owned subsidiary of TV Azteca S.A. de C.V.

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On the Net:

http://www.nielsenmedia.com

The network recently announced an aggressive programming push for the fall.