Setback for Plucky Paula as Ratings Drop for ‘Live to Dance’

by | January 6, 2011 at 2:49 PM | Live to Dance, TV News

Paula Abdul's 'Live to Dance' (Photo: CBS)

Paula Abdul's 'Live to Dance' (Photo: CBS)

Hey, hey, Paula, where’d a quarter of your audience go?

One thing’s for certain, they didn’t return Wednesday for Night Two of Paula Abdul’s new dance-competition series on CBS, “Live to Dance,” after sampling its debut on Tuesday night.

The show attracted 7.788 million viewers Wednesday night from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. (7-8c), falling 24 percent from the numbers for the two-hour premiere of the show Tuesday night, according to Nielsen overnights released Thursday. The Tuesday debut drew 10.226 million, helping CBS win the night (with help from a strong “NCIS” at 10/9c). It was hailed as a triumph for the plucky former “American Idol” judge.

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But on Wednesday night, Paula came up against “The Middle.” That’s one over-simplified way of explaining what happened to her audience, particularly in its first half-hour, when the Patricia Heaton sitcom on ABC, “The Middle,” won with 9.323 million viewers vs. 7.588 million for “Live to Dance.” Even the lower-rated “Better With You” on ABC at 8:30/7:30c held its own against “Live to Dance,” though the dance show won that duel by half a million viewers.

With “Live to Dance” coming up short of its Tuesday benchmark, CBS couldn’t win Wednesday night, especially since its “People’s Choice Awards” from 9 to 11 (8-10c) came up with only 9.475 million of its own viewers for the two hours.

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In fact, the ratings were all over the place Wednesday night. The highest-rated show on any network was “Modern Family” on ABC with 11.756 million from 9 to 9:30 (8-8:30c), and yet, ABC came in third for the night. That may have been due in part to “Cougar Town” at 9:30/8:30c, which drew just 6.745 million, losing 43 percent of the “Modern Family” audience – not good news if you’re an ABC programming exec.

Who won the night? It was NBC, based mainly on the strength of two “Law & Order: SVU” episodes at 9 and 10 (8 and 9c). The two “L&Os” scored 10.523 million and 10.893 million, respectively, in the overnights.

“Live to Dance” will be back next Wednesday, Jan. 12, at 8 p.m./7c on CBS.