‘Dancing With the Stars’ hits its highest ratings ever, even without Bristol Palin


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The results are in and we have a winner: This season has been the most-watched-ever for ‘Dancing With the Stars.’

Through Monday, Season 12 of ABC’s dance contest had averaged 22.5 million total viewers, up 4% compared with the 11th season, according to the Nielsen Co. The show ranks No. 2 behind ‘American Idol.’


That’s a little surprising because ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ which crowned NFL star Hines Ward and his partner Kym Johnson as winners in Tuesday’s finale, has always been viewed as dependent on casting for ratings. This year, the program has had to do without the tabloid stars, such as Bristol Palin and Kate Gosselin, who have helped drive viewership in the past. The closest this batch came to a tabloid sensation was Kirstie Alley, who lost a great deal of weight (she has refused to say how much) during the contest.

A couple of competitive factors may have helped ABC this time around. CBS has run repeats of ‘Two and a Half Men’ since mid-February, which has enabled rivals to snatch some viewers. The same holds for Fox’s move of ‘American Idol’ off Tuesday nights this season.

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-- Scott Collins (