Hit and 'Miss'

TLC relied on two familiar female-driven franchises to pull in viewers last week. The Discovery Communications-owned network's Jan. 26 live telecast of the Miss America pageant was crowned the most watched on cable, drawing 3.6 million viewers.

That same night, the return of TLC on-air veteran Paige Davis to Trading Spaces drew the highest viewership for the long-running house-swapping show since she left in 2005.

TLC's Miss America Live! show, in which Miss Michigan Kirsten Haglund took home the 87-year-old pageant's coveted title, performed 52% higher than the 2.3 million viewers who tuned into last year's pageant telecast on Viacom-owned, country music-based CMT and 18 percent higher than the 3.0 million viewers CMT drew in 2006.

TLC acquired the rights to the pageant this past August, after CMT declined to exercise a distribution option for the 2008 event. CMT in 2006 was the first cable network to air the pageant after a five-decade run on broadcast television.

In addition, the median age of viewers for the telecast was 37, nearly seven years younger than the 2007 show and 14 years younger than in 2006. TLC president and general manager Angela Shapiro-Mathes attributed a lot of the show's younger skewing audience to the pageant's supporting reality series, Miss America Reality Check. The four-part series, which took a behind-the-scenes look at the Miss America contestants leading up to the pageant, averaged 1 million viewers, including 1.06 million viewers for its Jan. 25 finale.

Shapiro-Mathes added that the reality series may be expanded next year to provide even more exposure and coverage for would-be Miss Americas.

The Miss America Live! performance helped boost rating for its lead-out show, Trading Spaces, which drew 1.6 million viewers — its best showing since Davis left the program in 2005.

Davis, an attractive fan favorite who also drew headlines in the tabloids, was dropped by TLC in 2005 amid declining ratings after hosting Trading Spaces for four years. TLC reworked Trading Spaces into a program without a host after Davis left.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.