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Fox's 'Skin' takes another beating

"Skin" struggles with low ratings.

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Nielsen Media Research Incorporated

LOS ANGELES, California (Hollywood Reporter) -- Fox's hopes for a rebound by its struggling new Monday lineup were dashed this week.

In its second outing, the freshman drama "Skin" flopped, placing a distant fourth with a 2.2 rating/5 share in the key 18-49 demographic and 5.1 million total viewers, according to figures from Nielsen Media Research. That was down 19 percent compared with last week's premiere, whose numbers were considered surprisingly low.

"Skin's" 8 p.m. lead-in, the reality romance "The Next Joe Millionaire," slid even further, down 22 percent in the demo to a 2.5/7.

The lackluster performance was especially surprising because the competition was somewhat weaker than last week.

ABC's "Monday Night Football" was down week-to-week with a Miami Dolphins-San Diego Chargers matchup (6.1/17), CBS aired a repeat of "Everybody Loves Raymond" (6.2/15), and NBC pre-empted its regular programming for the "Radio Music Awards" (4.5/11).

Overall, CBS won the night in the demo (5.4/14), trailed by ABC (5.1/13), NBC (4.9/12) and Fox (2.3/6).

The fate of "Skin" and "Joe Millionaire" is considered critical to Fox because they currently occupy one-quarter of the network's 16-hour weekly schedule.

Fox is building exposure for "Skin" by repeating each week's episode in the 9 p.m. Thursday slot. And two originals of "Joe Millionaire" are due to run each week throughout the November sweep.

"Skin's" lagging performance led at least two analysts -- Fulcrum Global Partners and Jessica Reif Cohen of Merrill Lynch -- to warn Tuesday that Fox will likely be forced to give advertisers sizable make-goods for failing to meet overall ratings targets this season.

"We expect 'Skin' to be pulled within the next couple of weeks, if not earlier," Fulcrum wrote in a research note.

For the moment, however, Fox appears to be sticking to its plan to "double-pump" episodes of "Skin," much as it did for its emerging hit, the youth soap "The O.C.," which returns to the schedule Wednesday night after a brief respite for postseason baseball.

The network also had high hopes for Tuesday's third-season premiere of "24" and the sixth-season premiere of "That '70s Show" the following night.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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