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Miss America's Mix Of New And Old Proves Winning Format For Ratings

It’s hard to beat Sunday Night Football, but the 2014 Miss America Pageant put on a smile and put her best foot forward last night. The big 2014 event sported celebrities including Lance Bass and Carla Hall, and managed to increase in the ratings in a year that both looked to the past for inspiration and looked ahead with a few forward thinking competitors. You would think that hodgepodge of new and old would make the competition a disaster, but that plan actually translated to more eyeballs.

NBC easily won the night, thanks to having the Sunday Night Football matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers, despite the Seattle blowout and lightning delay during the tenure of the game. CBS also did pretty well last night, due to that network’s earlier football game running one hour into primetime. According to Zap2it, NBC averaged 15.9 million total viewers across the night and CBS followed with 10.3 viewers across the night.

ABC’s airing of the 2014 Miss America Pageant brought in 7.4 million total viewers during the first hour and 9.4 total viewers during the hour that the winner was announced. The later hour is always a little more exciting, with the talent portions, the question and answer session, and the crowning of the brand new winner, so the fact that people showed up in higher numbers during the latter half of the competition is not remotely surprising.

This year’s Miss America showed a bit of an evolved program. Sure, the basic elements haven’t totally changed. Women are still parading around in swimsuits and answering basic current events questions. But this year also marked the first year a contestant showed up for a swimsuit competition with several prominent tattoos. It’s also the first year that a woman of Indian descent won the competition, with Nina Davuluri of New York State being crowned the winner after the final round (Yes, supposedly that’s the contestant who called Miss America 2013 fat, but she reports that another girl in the room made the statement).

Miss America has dealt with its share of controversy over the year, but this year’s competition truly bridged the gap between looking at the future and owning its past. After spending seven years in Las Vegas, the show returned to Atlantic City, NJ and when it aired on ABC, fans were shown an introductory sequence chock full of footage from the competitions of yesteryear. That mishmash of the eras shouldn’t really work, but as Miss New York stated in her answer concerning feminine beauty in the United States, “Miss America is always evolving.” The show takes the best things that have worked over the years and put them into an action-packed two-hour program that feels culturally relevant but also familiar to viewers. If you aren’t a fan of beauty pageants, you definitely didn’t miss anything, but if you do enjoy looking at a variety of dress choices and seeing intelligent women walk the runway (this year's runner up earned a B.A. and M.A. at Stanford in four years, according to US Weekly), the competition was certainly entertaining.

ABC may not have won the night, but the network did put together a winning program this year.

Photo Credit@ Miss America

Amazing Race & Top Chef superfan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.