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Riding the Jersey wave, MTV wraps quarter with poufy high ratings

March 29, 2011 | 12:35 pm

Jerseyshorecast 

MTV is finishing the first quarter with its highest ratings in five years, a noteworthy 27% jump among young viewers compared with the first quarter of 2010.

The Viacom Inc.-owned network's numbers were fueled by the third season of "Jersey Shore," which soared to the top of the ratings chart in the youth demographic of 12- to 34-year-old viewers. The show, which launched in December 2009 and features the Italian American New Yorkers Vinny Guadagnino, Mike "the Situation" Sorrentino and, of course, Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, who made the hair pouf sort of fashionable again, attracted more young viewers than television's top-rated show, "American Idol," according to MTV.

The third season of "Jersey Shore" became MTV's highest-rated show ever. It grew 35% compared with the second season and averaged 7.9 million viewers per episode. Production of the fourth installment of "Jersey Shore" recently got underway in Italy.

MTV's ratings resurgence has significantly helped Viacom's cause on Wall Street. Viacom common stock has been trading close to its 52-week high of $46.65 a share.

MTV's "Teen Mom 2" also netted substantial ratings, becoming cable television's No. 2 original show with an average of 3.8 million viewers an episode. "Real World: Las Vegas" was MTV's third show in cable's top 10, with ratings 11% higher than the previous installment of the show. It averaged 2 million viewers an episode.

Sister Viacom channel Nickelodeon said it posted its most-watched quarter with an average of 2.4 million viewers. During the quarter. Nickelodeon put forth several of the top preschool programs in television with "Bubble Guppies," "Max & Ruby," "Team Umizoomi," and "Go Diego, Go!"  It also boasted basic cable’s top three animated series with the perennial favorite "SpongeBob SquarePants," as well as "T.U.F.F. Puppy" and "The Penguins of Madagascar." 

-- Meg James

Photo: The cast of "Jersey Shore." Credit: Chris Pizzello / Associated Press  

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