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TV ratings: ABC's 'Rising Star' starts soft against 'Talent'

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Launch of ABC's 'Rising Star' sputters against NBC's 'America's Got Talent'

ABC's "Rising Star" didn't exactly light up the Sunday night sky.

In its two-hour premiere on ABC, the heavily promoted "Rising Star" reality singing competition averaged 5.1 million viewers and a rating of 1.5 among advertiser-desired 18- to 49-year-olds, according to preliminary numbers from Nielsen.

The 18-49 number is a couple of tenths of a point lower than ABC's previous summer talent show effort, 2012's "Duets," and was probably a softer result than the network was hoping.

It didn't help that NBC tried to steal some thunder by airing a new episode of "America's Got Talent" opposite the "Rising Star" premiere.

With classical crossover singer Josh Groban as host and Brad Paisley, Kesha and Ludacris on the judging panel, "Rising Star" enters an already crowded singing competition stage, and viewers are showing signs of fatigue. Fox's "American Idol" just wrapped up a very disappointing season. And Fox's U.S. incarnation  of "The X Factor" was canceled earlier this year because of poor ratings.

NBC's "The Voice," however, remains strong. The Season 6 "Voice" finale on May 20 earned a 3.3 in 18-49, where a ratings point equals roughly 1.3 million viewers. Season 13 of "Idol," which has seen steep declines in recent years, ended with about 10 million viewers and a rating of 2.6 in the key demo.

For a twist on the network sing-off format, ABC introduced an app on "Rising Star" to allow viewers -- those on the East Coast, anyway -- to vote live on the contestants. That app has been downloaded about 1 million times, according to ABC.

The broadcaster is also banking on social media to help drive viewership.

Sunday night's premiere generated 129,071 tweets, according to Nielsen Social, making it the most tweeted-about telecast of the night.

"America's Got Talent," its head-to-head competitor, averaged about 8 million viewers and a 2.1 in 18-49, down 19% from its most recent episode in its regular Tuesday time slot. Still, it was the highest-rated telecast of the night on the four major networks. 

This isn't the first time NBC has scheduled a big event program in close competition with an ABC-Dick Clark Productions telecast. The Peacock network debuted its iHeart Radio Music Awards just two weeks before DCP's Billboard Music Awards.

Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter: @rfaughnder

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