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The Girl That Gets a Week to Herself - November 10

Well, if you're a big fan of UPN, you may have noticed that there've been more model action as of late, and not just because "America's Next Top Model" is on twice. Last week was "Top Model Week" on the network, and several of the show's principals have been embedded into most of the primetime schedule. But is the move warranted?

Last week, Top Model was fourth in its time slot (a rarity with UPN), with a 4.8/8 in the fast overnights, 5.51 million viewers (for fifth place), and a 2.7/8 among the A18-49 (a tie for third). Two weeks before, the show posted comparably, fourth in the overnights: 4.8/7, fifth in viewers, 5.36 million, and third in A18-49, 2.6/7, all opposite the World Series. And with its two-hour premiere earlier this fall, a solid 4.2/6 in the overnights, 4.72 million viewers and a second-place finish among adults 18-34 (2.9/9), women 18-34 (4.7/12) and women 18-49 (3.4/8). According to Mediaweek, this was the highest-rated premiere ever for the network among adults 18-34, women 18-34, women 18-49, and tied for best ever among adults 18-49 (2.3/6). Compared to a year ago with the Top Model 3 premiere (we're currently in the fifth iteration), this was also an increase of 4.7 million viewers, and as much as 70 percent demographically (women 18-49).

What does this all mean? Well, for one, if you're UPN and you're looking for a hit in a post-Star Trek world, then you need look no further. But in the grand scheme of things, does it really mean that darn much? I mean, 4.7 million is the population of the smallest of the big cities... Charlotte comes to mind. It's also the typical audience of a cable hit or a summer dud... "The Scholar" comes to mind. So I guess if you're UPN and you're looking to make the money, that's a lot. And big boys such as "Survivor" and "Millionaire" in their heyday would consider such an audience of about 5 million pocket change. Even the million-dollar "Price is Right" fared better.

But, you say, this is UPN we're talking about, right?! You have to think about the fact that it serves less of an audience due to its small-network stature! That may be true, yes, but let's not forget that Fox was in a similar situation a few years ago. Then along came "American Idol," and things changed. While "Top Model" is hardly "American Idol," it is a respectable series with a respectable following that can and will parlay a cult following into mass success. Such an action was rewarded with off-broadcast rerun rights last summer to sister cabler VH1.

So it's only fitting that UPN reward the franchise with its own week of embeds, just as long as it remembers the lesson learned from "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" I mean, man can only live on models for so long (but judging from the substance that this series also has, and it's a lot of substance, I don't see that happening any time soon).

And that, as Tyra Banks would say, is fierce.

Elsewhere in the world of numbers...

Yesterday, we reported that "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy!" ruled the roost in syndie gamers. "Wheel of Fortune" once again proved why it bills itself as "America's Game", scoring an 8.2 rating, about eight percent below last year, but when you're the top, you can afford such a loss.

"Jeopardy!" meanwhile, is a tale of two numbers. The first number: 6.4, good for third behind "Wheel" and Oprah. The second number: 26. That's how much percentagewise the show dropped from the past year. The first number... good. The second number... bad. BUT, and this is a big but here, you have to remember that this time last year, Ken Jennings was beginning to wind down his tenure as Jeopardy! champion.

Meanwhile, "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" scored a season-high 3.0, but it was still 9 percent below last year. Take from that what you will.

Until next year, the numbers never lie.

Chico Alexander happens to have LiveJournal conversations with one of the Top Model finalists from year one. E-mail him at chico@gameshownewsnet.com.


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