By Steve Rogers, 05/20/2005
Fewer Americans watched Tuesday's debut of Britney Spears' Britney and Kevin: Chaotic UPN reality show than bought her disappointing 2001 "Britney" album. And despite what UPN's spinmeisters might proclaim, that's not particularly impressive given that compared to the 20 million plus units that her first two albums combined to sell, the controversial singer's "Britney" album has only sold about 4.5 million units.
Despite UPN's previous touting of its landing of Britney and Kevin: Chaotic as a major coup of sorts, the show's one-hour premiere proved to be a largely buzzless bust for the network, with its Tuesday, May 17 9-10PM ET/PT broadcast averaging only 3.66 million viewers, a 1.9/5 rating/share in the Adults 18-49 demographic, and a 2.7/7 rating/share in Adults 18-34.
UPN was quick to trumpet the fact that the debut placed third in its time period among Adults 18-34, second among Women 18-34, and delivered the network's best regular programming performance in the hour since fourteen months ago, however it ignored some other numbers -- starting with the fact that the show ranked dead last among the six broadcast networks (behind even The WB's One Tree Hill) in both total viewers and the Adults 18-49 demographic.
Additionally, the show actually lost about 10% of its audience from its first half-hour to its second, meaning that even some of the few viewers who did tune in for the show quickly tuned
out (with a significant amount of them no doubt parents who, having viewed a portion of the program's raunchy sex talk-filled content, took her "if you don't like it, turn the TV off" Diane Sawyer Primetime interview comment to heart.)
As for UPN's time period improvement claim, left unsaid was that despite having the presence of an America's Next Top Model 4 recap special as its lead-in, Britney and Kevin: Chaotic still struggled to significantly outperform the show that has regularly occupied that Tuesday 9PM ET/PT time period since last fall -- the critically-acclaimed (but woefully viewed) Veronica Mars drama that has averaged only 2.36 million viewers a week to rank 185th (out of 199 programs) in the 2004-2005 primetime season rankings (although, in a kudo-deserving move, UPN has renewed the critically-praised Mars for next season.)
Britney and Kevin: Chaotic also came no where near matching the numbers of UPN's America's Next Top Model reality hit, which in averaging 5.13 million viewers during its just-concluded "Cycle 4" run, ranks as the network's most watched series. The pop princess beaten by a bunch of wannabe nobodies? That had to be a blow to the ego.