Welcome to the new, weekly ratings report here at The A.V. Club, where we look at how particular shows (including your favorites or the shows you love to hate) are doing in the Nielsens. We'll focus in on a few programs of interest every week, and we'll hopefully help you make sense of the numbers and gobbledigook that are the Nielsen ratings charts.
Let's start this week with two series finales. Rescue Me's series finale last Wednesday didn't hit a series high, but it was the most watched episode of the show since the fourth season finale, pulling in 2.3 million viewers and 1.3 million viewers in the advertiser-approved 18-49-year-old demographic. The series has always been something of a niche show, but those who had tuned out over the years evidently came back, presumably to see whether the promos suggesting literally every character had died were true. (Spoilers: They weren't.) But Entourage did those numbers one better with its finale Sunday night, pulling in 2.6 million viewers for the first airing, and a little over 500,000 for a second airing. Granted, HBO cares less about ratings than most other networks, since it's more concerned about whether having a show on or not will cause a certain percentage of its audience to keep their subscriptions (hence the continued existence of the low-rated Treme), but it still had to be heartened by those numbers. The season finales of Curb Your Enthusiasm and True Blood pulled in 2 million and 5.1 million respectively. The latter was down from season three's finale, which pulled in 5.4 million.
Finally, in a story none of you will care about but industry professionals really, really do care about, the race to name Oprah Winfrey's ratings successor in the first week The Oprah Winfrey Show (which has been in reruns since the show's finale last spring) did not air appears to have an early leader in The Dr. Oz Show, which picked up 80 of Oprah's old timeslots and was able to parlay that into a 36 percent growth in its household ratings. (We'll get to what this all means in a second.) Does that match Oprah's old numbers? It doesn't, but it's a solid beginning for the show, and it certainly gives Dr. Oz prime position to eventually evolve into the new daytime talk show leader, as Oprah traditionally was. The show posted its best rating ever, drawing a 3.8 rating in household cume, smacking down Anderson Cooper's new show, which only pulled a 1.3.
Just what the hell does "household cume" mean? We're glad you asked! It's basically a percentage. In the 56 metered markets counted for "overnight" ratings (the instant numbers released the very next day after air), 3.8 percent of all households had their television turned to Dr. Oz. Only 1.3 percent had their television turned to Anderson Cooper. That doesn't seem like much, sure, but considering how beleaguered daytime television has become in recent years, it's a solid start, particularly if the show can maintain it. (To compare, Oprah regularly drew a number over a 5, while the top show in syndication, period, Judge Judy, regularly draws around a 7.)