Vast Audience for 'Dancing' Leaves ABC Calling for More
By Lisa de Moraes The Washington Post
Friday, November 17, 2006
Emmitt Smith's waltz past Mario Lopez in ballroom dancing competition has scored the biggest audience of any television broadcast so far this season.
Which is very sweet, really.
Nearly 28 million watched Wednesday's hour-and-change finale of "Dancing With the Stars" at the end of which the three-time Super Bowl champ was crowned best amateur ballroom dancer. That's the show's biggest audience ever.
The series's penultimate episode on Tuesday and Wednesday's finale performed so well, ABC now claims the two most-watched broadcasts on TV this season.
So strong was this third edition of the dance competition, the network has decided to broadcast another round this TV season.
Speaking this week at a TV industry event in New York, ABC's scheduling guru Jeff Bader said the network hopes to bring back "Dancing" in March -- around the time "American Idol" has winnowed its wannabes down to the 12 finalists.
He told attendees ABC is still trying to figure out whether to put "Dancing" on against Fox's ratings "tsunami" or schedule it in non-"Idol" time slots, according to published reports. Good luck on that, given how his counterpart at Fox, Preston Beckman, loves to use "Idol" like a heat-seeking missile.
Wednesday night, Smith took home the Cheesetastic Disco Ball Trophy after 10 grueling weeks of mamboing, sambaing and pasodobling for the show's three judges and the voting viewers, who clearly were smitten with the charming Mr. Smith from the get-go.
During the first half of the finale, when Smith and Lopez were performing one last time for the crowd, about 26 million viewers were watching.
In the second half-hour, when this edition's first eliminated contestant, Tucker Carlson, reprised his impression of the rusty Tin Man, and Sara Evans -- who abruptly left the competition when she filed for divorce from her Republican operative husband -- was kicking up her cowboy-booted heels to "These Boots Are Made for Walking" and, we're guessing, hoping her soon-to-be-ex was getting the "one of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you" message, the audience swelled to more than 29 million viewers.
The show ran two minutes past the hour -- which translates to one more ad break at "Dancing With the Stars" prices for ABC. So by the time Smith was crowned winner of the Cheesetastic Disco Ball Trophy, about 32 million were tuned in.
"Dancing" topped the combined audiences of CBS, NBC and Fox in the Wednesday hour by about 4 million viewers and delivered ABC's biggest non-sports audience in the time period in nearly seven years.
Meanwhile, Sarah Ferguson, the duchess of York, has told celebrity suck-up show "Inside Edition" she hopes she's invited to be one of the celebs for the next round of competition.
"I'd like to go on 'Dancing With the Stars,' " she said in an interview taped to air last night, the Associated Press reported. She said she was turned on to the romantic tango dance style while visiting Buenos Aires.
Grievously, Ferguson seems destined for disappointment. She is, after all, the spokeswoman for Weight Watchers and "Dancing" is sponsored by competitor Slim-Fast.http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...601739_pf.html