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Emmy Ratings Bounce Back

Sunday night’s Emmy Awards telecast rebounded after last year's dismal ratings finish.

CBS’ awards telecast drew a 6 rating in the 18-to-49-year-old demographic and an average 18.6 million viewers over the course of three hours, according to Nielsen fast national data for Sept. 18.

That’s up strongly from last year’s awards broadcast on ABC, which attracted a 4.7 rating in 18-49s and 14 million viewers.

Last night’s performance is closer to the 2003 Emmys telecast on Fox, which drew a 7 rating and 17.7 million viewers. (Fast national data is based on time-period estimates and subject to change when final results are tallied. Live programming, such as the Emmy broadcast, is particularly volatile.)

This year, CBS opted for an “Emmy Idol” theme that put stars in musical numbers built around famous theme songs, then solicited viewers to vote via cellphone text messaging and the Internet for their favorite. Donald Trump (The Apprentice) and Megan Mullally (Will & Grace) won, with their version of the Green Acres theme. They also go the biggest hand from the crowd, though it was close with William Shatner's Star Trek theme accompanied by mezzo-soprano Fredericka Von Stade with the ethereal aaaaah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ahhhs.

CBS took first place among broadcast networks in the prime time ratings race last night, averaging a 5.8 rating/15 share from 7-11 p.m. (The runover of a football game and 60 Minutes ran during the 7 o’clock hour.)

Competitors employed different counterprogramming strategies against the Emmy Awards.

In second place at 3.9/10 for the night, Fox aired fresh episodes of two new shows that fared well: The War at Home posted a 3.9 rating/10 share in the 18-49 demo, while American Dad notched a 4/9.

Though it aired before the Emmys at 7:30 p.m., the premiere of King of the Hill (in what will likely be the animated comedy's final season) scored a 3.2/10.

Third-place ABC ran a four-hour epic movie, Pearl Harbor, that averaged 2.6/7.

On the eve of its fall preview blowout this week, NBC squeaked out a 1.8/5 with Dateline (1.8/6) and three hours of reruns.

The Peacock barely held off The WB, which got a boost from its run of The Two Towers, the second installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Frodo and his gang fought nobly for a 1.3/4 (but last place) finish.