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Miss America Pageant Puts TLC On Top

Apparently some people are still watching the Miss America pageant. Who knew?

TLC says the Miss America pageant broadcast this past weekend attracted 4.5 million viewers.  The cable network says it’s the largest number of viewers of any Miss America telecast shown on cable.

Miss Virginia, Caressa Cameron, won the crown Saturday night. The 22-year-old emerged from a field of 53 contestants after swimsuit, evening gown, talent and interview competitions.  TLC says the pageant telecast was ranked No. 1 for the night on cable channels, excluding movies.

Saturday’s 4.5 million viewers were a million more than last year but far less than the 33 million who watched the pageant on broadcast TV in 1988.

Entertainment Weekly Online reported the 2009 Miss American pageant only drew 3.5 million viewers, down from the 26.7 million who watched the event in 1991. Actor Mario Lopez, who hosted this year’s pageant Saturday night, blames the atrophy on an abundance of beautiful women in other arenas.

“There are so many things these days, like Maxim, where you can check out beautiful women,” said Lopez, referring to the popular men’s magazine.  Miss America 2003 Ericka Dunlap said the pageant’s declining popularity may be due to reality TV shows that draw away previous viewers.

“They just want to watch entertaining television, so we enter into some trash, like the dating reality shows filled with these girls who are willing to bicker and fight,” says Dunlap.

Miss America 2010 marks the end of TLC’s three-year distribution deal for the pageant, and it’s unclear whether the network has plans to renew the agreement. Negotiations are continuing between TLC, Planet Hollywood executives, the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority and the Miss America Organization (MMO) about a renewal contract for 2011 and beyond.

TLC’s other weekend special, 19 Kids and Counting Baby Special airing on Jan. 31, drew a 2.3 household rating and 3.2 million total viewers, topping all basic cable telecasts for the night  excluding sports-related programming among households, total viewers and adults 25-54, said the network.

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