Fox Is Friday’s Highest-Rated Primetime Network Thanks to ‘WWE Smackdown’

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Fox’s “WWE Smackdown” scored a knockout Friday night as broadcast’s highest-rated show in primetime in the highly-coveted 18-49 demographic with a 0.5 score. However, it was CBS’ “Blue Bloods” that notched the most overall viewers on the night with 2.86 million.

Thanks to the WWE, Fox was the highest-rated network on the night in the advertiser-friendly demo with a 0.52 average score. Despite the strength of “Blue Bloods,” it was actually ABC that secured the largest total average viewership with 2.7 million — “20/20” is the gift that keeps on giving over decades.

You just never know what to expect when it comes to the battle of the broadcasters as live sports, unscripted series and procedural dramas continue to duke it out for America’s attention spans. Just wait until major sitcoms return.

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Here’s how primetime shook out among the major networks Friday:

As mentioned, Fox was first in the ratings with a 0.52 average demo score, according to official live plus same-day Nielsen data. “WWE Smackdown” ran on the network from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. where it drew 2.1 million total viewers. In late July, longtime WWE CEO Vince McMahon retired amid several sexual misconduct allegations that forced him to step down from his role in June. Fox doesn’t air primetime programming after 10.

ABC was second in the ratings Friday night with a 0.32 average demo score and first in total average viewership with 2.7 million. At 8, “Fatal Flaw” garnered a 0.31 score in the key audience target and 2.8 million total viewers. At 9, the reliable “20/20” posted a 0.33 demo score while attracting 2.6 million total viewers. Given the importance of live sports, ABC executives are likely eager for the NFL to return to the network this fall for the first time since 2006. ABC will simulcast several “Monday Night Football” games with corporate sibling ESPN.

NBC was third in the ratings with an average demo score of 0.24, though the Peacock posted just 1.7 million total average viewers. “American Ninja Warrior” scored a 0.22 demo rating and 1.5 million total viewers at 8 p.m. and was followed by “Dateline” notching a 0.28 demo rating and 2 million total viewers at 10 p.m.

CBS was fourth in the ratings with an average demo score of 0.21, but 2.6 million total average viewers helped to soften the blow. The Eye jumpstarted primetime with reality series “Secret Celebrity Renovation,” which garnered a 0.25 demo score and 2.6 million total viewers. It was followed by “Blue Bloods” at 9 p.m., which collected a 0.16 demo score and 2.3 million viewers. CBS then rebounded with another episode of “Blue Bloods” at 10 p.m., with the cop drama rising to a 0.20 demo rating and a Friday primetime-leading 2.86 million total viewers.

The CW was fifth in ratings with a 0.05 average demo score and 501,000 total average viewers. At 8, “Penn & Teller Fool Us” drew a 0.7 score in the 18-49 target and 554,000 total viewers. It was followed by “World’s Funniest Animals” at 9 (0.04, 443,000) and another “Worlds Funniest Animals” at 9:30 (0.04, 454,000). The CW, like Fox, doesn’t air primetime programming at 10.

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Among the Spanish-language networks, Telemundo finished first with an average demo rating of 0.3 along with 1.0 million total average viewers. “Casa de Famosos,” which ran from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., elicited a 0.3 demo score and 1.1 million total viewers. At 9, “Amor Valiente” managed to secure a 0.2 rating in the key demo and 866,000 viewers. At 10, “Infiel: Historia de Un Engaño” closed out primetime with a 0.3 key demo score and 994,000 total viewers.

Univision was second in the rating with an average demo score of 0.2 an 921,000 total average viewers. “Mexicana y El Guero” began at 8 and scrounged up a 0.2 key demo rating and 760,000 total viewers. “Herencia: Legado Amor” followed with the network’s highest scores of 0.3 and 1.1 million total viewers. Then, “Mujer de Nadie” finished the night with a 0.3 demo score and 887,000 total viewers.

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