‘Dancing With the Stars’ finale ratings drop

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J.R. Martinez, an injured Iraq war veteran and sentimental favorite on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” won Tuesday night’s finale of the ABC hoofing competition, but his victory didn’t pull the series out of its ratings slump.

The celebrity-centric dancing show still won the night, with 19.5 million total viewers, and attracted the largest gathering of advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds for the 9-11 p.m. program.


But it did register as the lowest-rated fall finale to date and dropped 23% in the 18-49 demographic from last fall’s finale, when Jennifer Grey won. Still, it beat its nearest competition, Fox’s “The X Factor,” by 10 million total viewers.

Martinez, who had struggled in recent shows with dance-related injuries, beat his two closest competitors, Ricki Lake and Rob Kardashian. The finale of the show’s 13th cycle pitted Martinez against the late-surging Kardashian for the cheap but prized mirror ball trophy.

The win gave Martinez’s professional dance partner, Karina Smirnoff, her only first-place finish in the series so far. The ever-cheerful and sparkling Martinez said, “Thank you, America, for believing in us!” as he hoisted the trophy overhead.

Despite the feel-good outcome, the series has been showing its age, with critics saying it’s become too predictable and the format’s fraying at the edges. And a Thanksgiving week finale didn’t help, when many TV viewers are traveling or distracted with family obligations. Audiences were smaller for the night, with ABC still landing on top with its combination of “DWTS,” Tim Allen’s new sitcom, “Last Man Standing,” and its macho companion, “Man Up,” which both increased their 18-49 ratings from the prior week.


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— T.L. Stanley