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Summer's TV winners & losers

Now that the dog days are almost over, we’re crowning the season’s champs…and chumps

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Summer is usually a sleepy time in TV land — but not this year. Between NBC’s Olympics coverage, the ongoing morning-show wars, and some fierce off-season salary negotiations, we’ve had plenty to buzz about.

The Winners

Reboots are always a risky business, but TNT successfully proved that you can go back to Southfork, even if Larry Hagman hasn’t trimmed his eyebrows since the Texas oil boom.

The Cast of Modern Family
The six adult stars of ABC’s top comedy — that would be Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, Eric Stonestreet, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Julie Bowen, and Ty Burrell — earned across-the-board Emmy nominations last month. And they also triumphed at the negotiating table by scoring 160-plus percent salary increases. It pays to be a Pritchett.

NBC’s Olympics coverage
The Peacock’s coverage of the London Olympics is already shattering ratings records. With 35.8 million viewers on average, the 2012 London Games had the most watched opening weekend ever.

Good Morning America
With Today still struggling (Godspeed, Ann Curry), ABC’s morning show is consistently beating its NBC rival for the first time in 17 years thanks to its popular (and hot) dream team of Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, Josh Elliott, Lara Spencer, and Sam Champion.

Disney Channel
The Mouse House is surpassing its rival Nickelodeon in total day ratings due to its stable of live-action comedies (Jessie, Shake It Up) and one animated giant (Phineas and Ferb).

Breaking Bad
The AMC drama returned to stellar reviews and record viewership (2.9 million) for its fifth-season debut, besting last year’s premiere by 14 percent. And playing a drug pusher has never been sweeter for star Bryan Cranston, who will vie for his fourth best-actor Emmy in September.

The Losers

The Newsroom
The Aaron Sorkin drama has modest ratings and managed to score a second-season renewal, but it’s compelled even his most ardent fans to reach for the NoDoz. And his grand ”I’ll fix it!” gesture of canning his writers landed with a thud. Everybody in Hollywood knows he writes all the scripts anyway.

Howard Stern
The shock jock was supposed to be an inspired addition to NBC’s America’s Got Talent, but the show is down 18 percent on Tuesdays and he’s just not that, well, shocking. Now that Sharon Osbourne is leaving, perhaps Stern should follow her out the door?

Bristol Palin
She may have snagged a berth in Dancing With the Stars‘ all-star edition (for the full cast, see page 12), but viewers have largely abstained from watching her primetime show Life’s a Tripp. That’s prompted Lifetime to relegate the reality show to a late-night slot, where the single mom is sure to get even less action.

Dish and DirecTV
After protracted carriage disputes, the two satellite companies flashed the middle finger to cable viewers by yanking the signal to AMC Networks and Viacom-owned channels, respectively. Way to alienate your customers.

NBC (again)
Okay, your Olympics ratings may rock, Mr. Peacock, but it’s still lame to make us wait until prime time to watch the biggest events, like the showdowns between Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps. Seriously, tape delays blow!