Monday, August 31, 2009

19 Timeslots, Monday 10PM

Now we get into the 10:00 hour. Just three nets for these articles, but many of them are pretty full of upheaval since this hour often consists of struggling lead-outs for high-rated 9:00 shows.

ABC: For '06-'07 ABC renewed What About Brian, a drama that was coming off the heels of a mini-season after Desperate Housewives in spring of '06. Brian didn't rate very well but it got the back nine and ran in the slot until the end of March, when the net brought in a rather disappointing edition of The Bachelor. The show returned for fall and spring of '07 but took a rest at midseason for another show coming off a mini-season that got a decent sampling because of a big lead-in, October Road. Three different shows aired in the slot in '08-'09, first the final season of law drama Boston Legal, then reality sleeper success True Beauty, then crime newbie Castle, which had OK results especially out of two-hour Dancings and returns to the slot in fall '09. It averaged a 2.4 in its ten airings. True Beauty should return to this slot in midseason. Its Monday originals averaged a 3.0.

CBS: There hasn't been any problem for CBS in this slot since they plugged CSI: Miami here in September of 2002. They've gotten seven straight seasons in the top 15 in total viewers out of the show. A pretty consistent show wire-to-wire, it averaged a 4.0 in originals last season and actually hit the 4.0 plateau as late as the third-to-last episode of the season in a climate where spring declines are the norm. Its improved lead-in Rules of Engagement helped it late in the season, and it could get even more good news as The Big Bang Theory takes over at 9:30 this year.

NBC: For NBC it's been a substantially rougher ride in the timeslot, as has been the case in many of its 10:00 hours. The first lead-out of breakout hit Heroes was heavily hyped drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, but it got bumped to the summer after 16 episodes and in filled family crime drama The Black Donnellys. It got through only six of its 13 filmed episodes before being replaced by Ashton Kutcher reality effort The Real Wedding Crashers and finally some higher-profile airings for Law & Order: CI just days before its move to USA Network was announced. For fall '07 they aired sci-fi out of sci-fi with time travel drama Journeyman and it probably only got through its filmed episodes because of the strike. The net plugged in Medium, a former tentpole in the timeslot, and got pretty good business out of the show during the writer's strike. They went back to another newbie in fall '08 in My Own Worst Enemy but it failed as well so in stepped reality dud Momma's Boys and then Medium again, this time to diminished results so it got the axe. NBC's woes in the 10:00 hour have led to them giving up on scripted in the hour and going with The Jay Leno Show.

Cable Notables: Of course, ESPN's Monday Night Football.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

19 Timeslots, Sunday 9PM

Desperate Housewives premiered in this hour on ABC in fall 2004 and a megahit - and timeslot definer - was born.

ABC: See above. Desperate Housewives, despite being in an almost continual decline since season 2, remains the force to beat here. It averaged a 5.3 in 2008-09 originals but dipped as low as a 4.1 near the end of the season. Its 2007-08 season was shortened due to the writer's strike so reality show Oprah's Big Give filled in for the typically low-repeating drama.

CBS: After airing its first three seasons in the Sunday 8:00 hour, veteran drama Cold Case got moved to 9:00 in the fall of '06. It would stay there for almost all of the next three years but is being moved yet another hour later for fall '09. Medical newbie Three Rivers joins the slot this year and has been widely pegged as an early failure. In that event, don't be surprised if Cold Case returns to this hour.

FOX: Animated offering Family Guy has a checkered past that has been well documented and 2006-07 was the first time in the show's existence that it actually aired an entire season of originals starting in September and ending in May, something that's standard procedure for most shows. It has held down the timeslot ever since and will continue there for '09-'10. Its lead-out across these last three years has generally been another animated show American Dad though the 9:30 half-hour was the home for live-action newbies The Winner in spring '07 and Unhitched toward the end of the strike-affected '07-'08 season. Family Guy averaged about a 4.0 and American Dad pulled around a 2.9 on average, though Dad aired several episodes without an original FG lead-in. Family Guy aired just 16 originals in '08-'09.

NBC: Of course, this net has Sunday Night Football going strong in the fall. The question is what airs afterwards. Deal or No Deal got some action here among other places in early '07 followed by some specials and theatricals. It was repeats of drama Law & Order, USA Network import Psych, and comedy The Office in '08. But, after starting the post-football run in '09 with some miniseries and specials, the peacock finally seemed to find something they could stick with in this hour in '09 by bringing in two hour editions of The Celebrity Apprentice. It's expected that show will fill the timeslot again starting in winter of 2010. The show averaged around a 3.2 on Sundays last season, a marked improvement over most of the other attempts there recently.

CW: The CW started off fall '06 with their trademark second-run of America's Next Top Model in the hour but made a quick audible, bringing drama newbie Runaway over. It struggled mightily and so encores of Beauty and the Geek filled in for much of early '07. In fall of '07 the hour went back to the ANTM encore while the net tried originals again at 7 and 8. The comedy block returned to the evening later in that season due to failure in the first two hours, with Girlfriends and The Game airing in the 9:00 hour. Girlfriends was axed after the season and The Game shifted to Friday while the CW leased out Sunday night to Media Rights Capital. Drama Easy Money aired here but while it garnered a little bit of critical acclaim it was DOA and soon replaced by movie nights. The CDub abandons the evening for '09-'10 and so affiliates will offer local programming.

Cable Notables: Showtime offers one of its signature dramas in Dexter starting in late September. HBO goes with veteran comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm leading into newbie Bored to Death.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Gender in TV Ratings - In Conclusion...

6. In conclusion...

Listen, I hate unfounded blanket statements and generalizations as much as the next guy. But looking at the previous five posts, it's kind of hard not to see a couple of trends. Males 18-49 like comedy and action. Genre and comedy are the two best ways to get a male audience, and it seems to be supported across block after block after block of TV. Females 18-49 watch to get invested in characters, whether it's Meredith and Derek on Grey's Anatomy or their favorite celeb on Dancing with the Stars.

Of course, the percentages used in these posts are ratios, not raw numbers. A flop is still a flop even if it skews way off of the median (see Kings, Life on Mars, SDSU, etc.). But males are the scarcer gender, and hopefully this post has helped display why the nets keep going back to the genre well even when a lot of them fail. Because when they succeed, they bring something you just can't get on a procedural. Stuff like 24, Fringe, and Heroes, even as modest performers in the whole demo, still bring in more M18-49s than just about any crime drama on TV.

Here's the complete list, separated by day and network. I think in a lot of cases it's interesting to look at gender dynamics across entire evenings. For example, the kind of mish-mash of shows on CBS Sunday are all over the place. Fringe has a very different percentage than Idol even though the Idol lead-in is so huge and is no doubt helping Fringe. Will it skew even more male in fall '09? Is female-heavy Biggest Loser contributing to SVU being the most female-skewing procedural on TV? Enjoy.

Show Date W18-49 M18-49 % male

In Motherhood 16-Apr 1.95 0.95 33% male
Samantha Who? 16-Apr 2.1 0.95 31% male
Ugly Betty 30-Apr 2.9 1.1 28% male
7.65 2.3 23% male
5.1 1.5 23% male

4.1 3.05 43% male
4.3 3.05 41% male
Eleventh 2-Apr 3 1.95 39% male
2.5 1.3 34% male

2.35 2.05 47% male
2.45 2.25 48% male
3.8 3.7 49% male
3.25 3.05 48% male
ER 2-Apr 8 4 33% male
2.65 2.2 45% male

2.9 1.6 36% male
3.5 2.55 42% male

1.1 1.5 58% male
1.15 1.05 48% male

Wife Swap
1.75 0.9 34% male
Supernanny 17-Apr 2.15 0.95 31% male
20/20 17-Apr 1.8 1.05 37% male

Ghost Whisperer
2.95 1.4 32% male
2 1.05 34% male
2.15 1.4 39% male

Howie Do It
1 0.75 43% male
FNL 10-Apr 1.4 1 42% male
Dateline (Fri.)
1.55 1.025 40% male

Terminator:SCC 10-Apr 1.3 1.55 54% male
Prison Break
1.15 0.9 44% male
1.25 1.1 47% male

0.85 0.4 32% male
1.2 0.5 29% male

2.25 2.25 50% male
3.35 2.1 39% male
6.3 3.15 33% male
4.45 1.7 28% male

60 Minutes
1.55 1.5 49% male
Amazing Race
3.65 2.6 42% male
Cold Case
2.65 1.6 38% male
The Unit
2.15 1.85 46% male

Dateline (Sun.)
1.1 0.925 46% male
Kings 5-Apr 1.05 1.05 50% male
Celebrity Apprentice 3.4 2.75 45% male

King of the Hill
1.2 1.6 57% male
2.45 3.5 59% male
Sit Down, Shut Up
1.75 2.1 55% male
Family Guy
2.65 4.15 61% male
American Dad
1.9 2.95 61% male

DWTS (Mon.)
6.2 2.433 28% male
Surviving Suburbia 3.15 1.25 28% male
2.6 1.45 36% male

3.5 3.3 49% male
3.9 3.5 47% male
2.5 Men
5.1 4.7 48% male
4.25 3.55 46% male
CSI: Miami
3.85 2.7 41% male

2.35 2.4 51% male
2.95 3.05 51% male
2.75 1.6 37% male

5.15 4 44% male
3.1 3.65 54% male

Gossip Girl
1.5 0.45 23% male
One Tree Hill
1.65 0.55 25% male

According to Jim
1.2 0.725 38% male
DWTS (Tues.)
4.6 1.9 29% male
2.15 1 32% male

NCIS 7-Apr 4.2 3.05 42% male
Mentalist 7-Apr 4.3 2.95 41% male
WAT 7-Apr 3.3 2.05 38% male

Biggest Loser
4.825 2.325 33% male
5.15 2.55 33% male

10.15 5.9 37% male
4.3 3.6 46% male

0.7 0.6 46% male
1.35 0.5 27% male

Scrubs 22-Apr 2 1.8 47% male
Ted 22-Apr 1.7 1.65 49% male
4.2 3.85 48% male
Life on Mars 1-Apr 2.25 1.8 44% male
1.8 1.3 42% male

Christine 8-Apr 2.4 1.75 42% male
Gary 8-Apr 2.55 1.9 43% male
3.95 2.85 42% male
3.75 2.6 41% male

Life 8-Apr 1.3 1.25 49% male
2.55 2.05 45% male

Lie to Me
2.6 2.1 45% male
9.35 6.05 39% male

2.8 0.85 23% male

19 Timeslots, Friday 9PM

This is one of the very few timeslots on TV where almost every network has had a lot of upheaval in the last three seasons. Nobody's had a staple show.

ABC: Fall '06 saw the debut of Men in Trees here for ABC, and while low-rated it did manage to exceed some expectations so it got moved to the plum post-Grey's spot on Thursdays. After its November move the slot saw a revolving door of two-hour 20/20's, theatricals, and repeats until the burnoff return of former post-Grey's occupant Six Degrees which lasted just two episodes on Friday. Repeats of Wife Swap would fill the slot for the rest of spring '07. Fall '07 saw another effort at a new drama, this time the moderately successful if old-skewing Women's Murder Club. But the strike derailed its relative success on the night and gave way to Desperate Housewives repeats and more expanded 20/20 until the horrific return of game show Duel. The net got a bit more aggressive for '08-'09 by plugging in Supernanny, which was coming off a very solid midseason year as writer's strike bait. That show will stay on the night in fall '09 but be moved down to the 8:00 slot so that Thursday tentpole Ugly Betty can join the evening here.

CBS: This timeslot has seemingly consisted of a series of borderline decisions with CBS making the wrong one every time. '06-'07 was the final season of legal drama Close to Home, which was cancelled despite often leading Friday in total viewers and sometimes even in the demo. Vampire drama Moonlight took over for most of '07-'08, though it was briefly replaced during the writer's strike with primetime telecasts of game show The Price is Right. Moonlight returned with some post-strike episodes but was ultimately down from Close to Home and didn't do enough for a renewal. For fall '08 it was female-targeting The Ex-List which bombed even harder and was pulled after just four episodes. Some repeats and then Canadian import Flashpoint filled in. This year, CBS brings in axed NBC drama Medium, which they hope will pair well with similarly-premised Ghost Whisperer.

FOX: Fox's choice for this timeslot for most of '06-'07 was Trading Spouses. For a brief period the net tried a new drama Wedding Bells but got no success out of it. Fox then debuted reality effort Nashville at 9 in fall '07 but it was the first show axed in '07-'08. Some two-hour editions of almost-as-low-rated American Band along with repeats of Don't Forget the Lyrics! would get some use in the slot later in the fall, and then reliable House repeats took over for much of the winter. Ancient-skewing newbie Canterbury's Law was moved over to the slot in the spring to burn off its remaining episodes. Lyrics made a move here in originals for fall '08 but was replaced in the winter by sci-fi newbie Dollhouse, which will return in fall of '09 despite rather disastrous results. It averaged a 1.5 demo in the timeslot but dipped as low as 1.0 by the end of its run.

NBC: The peacock moved veteran drama Las Vegas to this timeslot in fall of '06 and was very competitive with it in play. It was moved to 10:00 for the next season while the second season of Friday Night Lights showed up at 9. Two-hour Datelines and a slew of special airings filled in thanks to FNL's season being cut short because of the writer's strike. In fall '08 it was fantasy newbie Crusoe which posted anemic results and was shipped to Saturday. In stepped Lipstick Jungle for December and January which had bombed in two 10:00 timeslots already and kept on bombing at 9. For the first half of '09 it was another season of Friday Night Lights and more two-hour Dateline NBC. The net will go more aggressive in fall '09 with almost-newbie Southland, which opened well on Thursday in ER's old slot but dropped off considerably during its 7-ep run.

CW: For the first two years of the CW's existence they had the back half of Friday Night Smackdown! for this slot. The net gave up control of the UPN mainstay for '08-'09 and brought another tentpole, the encore of America's Next Top Model, to Friday night. Original episodes of reality flop 13: The Fear is Real were burned off here between ANTM cycles. The ANTM encore returns for fall '09.

Cable Notables: USA drama Monk kicked off its season on August 7 and will be running its entire 16-ep season consecutively, meaning its originals will be a factor in the fall - something that's never been the case before. Syfy offers a new show but an old brand in Stargate Universe.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Gender in TV Ratings - Reality TV

5. As with serialized drama, reality TV can succeed with either gender, depending on what kind it is.

I'm leaving newsmagazines out of this mix because I think they're probably very story-dependent.

AFHV 50% male
Celebrity Apprentice 45% male
Howie Do It 43% male
Survivor 43% male
Hell's 42% male
Amazing Race 42% male
Idol (Wed.) 39% male
EM:HE 39% male
Idol (Tues.) 37% male
Wife Swap 34% male
Biggest Loser 33% male
Supernanny 31% male
DWTS (Tues.) 29% male
DWTS (Mon.) 28% male
ANTM 23% male

All right, I'm going to return to the sweeping stereotype I posited in previous sections: dudes watch TV for action and laughs. The stuff above the median provides that: either explicitly, with ridiculous videos/stunts as in AFHV and Howie, or in the cutthroat interactions and strategy that populate the above-median competitive reality shows. The game is the thing that takes center stage. But comedy is built to generate laughs, and genre is usually built to generate action. Reality isn't so specific, and like drama, it can succeed on other levels. Below that line, I think you hit a different kind of reality show, where it's less about a team or a competition or interplay and more about investing in the people involved, be it a performance or just through some way of making their lives better. I don't know, maybe I'm not making any sense, but I think there's a change in the type of show, and it comes right at that median line, but I'm having trouble articulating it.

19 Timeslots, Thursday 9PM

Fall 2006 was when year the Thursday landscape completely changed thanks to ABC bringing Sunday hit Grey's Anatomy over to the night.

ABC: Grey's Anatomy came to the slot in fall '06 and dominated staple CSI in the demo, but its declines the past couple years have been hefty. Still it's the favorite to win the hour because CSI has done more than its fair share of declining as well. It posted a 5.7 original average in '08-'09.

CBS: The eye has long offered the father of its crime drama family CSI in this timeslot and will continue to do so for '09-'10 but big hit The Mentalist moved to the 10:00 hour and may have its eye on the slot in the near future. CSI averaged a 4.8 demo in originals last season but that doesn't tell the whole story as it got spikes for cast upheaval moments and was a substantially stronger show in the fall than in the spring, when it dipped all the way to a 3.4 for its season finale. The return of Jorja Fox and some tweaking of the Laurence Fishburne character could bode well for '09-'10 though.

FOX: ABC and CBS have offered staples in this timeslot, but Fox has certainly not. The O.C. had its disastrous final run here in fall '06 and winter '07. While 5th Grader helped the 8:00 hour in the spring, Fox had nothing to offer at 9 and went with repeats of Family Guy and a repeat/original mix of Trading Spouses. Don't Forget the Lyrics! debuted in summer '07 and nailed down the timeslot safely for all of '07-'08 but it and 5th Grader were moved to Fridays in fall '08 and Fox went with another run of Kitchen Nightmares which did much worse than its fall '07 sleeper success on Wednesday. For winter and spring of '09 the net went with Hell's Kitchen which was a marked improvement on Nightmares. This year, it's a big risk with sci-fi drama Fringe joining the hour.

NBC: The peacock opened up '06-'07 with Deal or No Deal in the slot but soon abandoned it in favor of a second hour of what they called "Comedy Night Done Right." The only time NBC has shrunk this block since then in the regular season was for the writer's strike run of The Celebrity Apprentice in early 2008. The block was initially top-heavy with the 8:00 hour doing pretty well and the 9:00 combo of Scrubs and 30 Rock really struggling, so NBC got a little bolder in fall '07 by moving The Office to the second hour. Scrubs was the post-Office occupant at 9:30 but was switched with 30 Rock which has seen growth in each of its three seasons (thanks last year to Tina Fey's impression of Sarah Palin) and will occupy 9:30 in '09-'10 starting in October, after the slot briefly goes to newbie Community for some post-Office sampling. The Office averaged a 4.3 in Thursday originals and while it showed signs of decline toward the end of the season, it did beat CSI in the demo for the first time ever. 30 Rock averaged a 3.3 in originals.

CW: The CW has aired Supernatural here since its inception and will continue to do so in '09-'10. The only exception was a brief tryout for Reaper during the writer's strike in spring 2008, but it did worse than Supernatural usually does and plans to bring Reaper back on Thursday in season 2 fell through when the net decided to return it to Tuesday to go up against Idol.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gender in TV Ratings - Comedies

4. TV's most successful comedy blocks all skew young and male (or very close to it).

Why do the likes of Old Christine, Gary, Scrubs, and Better Off Ted keep coming back despite rather tepid A18-49 numbers? Well, if males are the scarcer gender and thus the gender in demand, comedy is a good route to getting them. Consider this:

Family Guy 61% male
American Dad 61% male
Simpsons 59% male
King of the Hill 57% male
Sit Down, Shut Up 55% male
Office 49% male
Ted 49% male
BBT 49% male
30 Rock 48% male
2.5 Men 48% male
P&R 48% male
Scrubs 47% male
HIMYM 47% male
Earl 47% male
Rules 46% male
Gary 43% male
Christine 42% male
According to Jim 38% male
In Motherhood 33% male
Chris 32% male
Samantha Who? 31% male
The Game 29% male
Surviving Suburbia 28% male

Fox's animation block is the most male-skewing block on television, no questions asked. The CBS and NBC blocks are both in the upper 40s along with Scrubs/Ted on ABC, while CBS Wednesday is lower, but still, right at the gender median despite being pretty old-skewing overall. Even though some of these shows are fairly "soapy" (HIMYM, Scrubs, The Office coming to mind) they still bring in the males because the males seemingly want to laugh. Now look at the six shows on the bottom of this list. All axed, all incapable of tapping into any kind of male interest. Is that a necessity to launch a successful comedy? 6 of 6 shows below the median were canned, 14 of 17 above it renewed. Coincidence? Maybe that is what ABC's doing wrong on the comedy front, and maybe that male skew is what saved Scrubs/Ted, because you've got to start somewhere. Will the two-hour ABC Wednesday block this fall find interest from the gender that, frankly, is defining successful comedy these days? Would seem to me that they'll have to at least skew as male as Christine/Gary, but, to be continued...

19 Timeslots, Wednesday 9PM

You can pretty much count on two things in this timeslot: 1) Criminal Minds dominates the fourth quarter and 2) American Idol dominates the first half of the calendar year. But Law & Order: SVU may have something to say about that this season.

ABC: The alphabet started off in fall '06 with the Lost "mini-season" of six episodes, then a hiatus. The time-period filler during Lost's absence was supposed to be limited-run drama Day Break but its ratings were so bad that it didn't last to anywhere near the end of the Lost hiatus and gave way to the second half of a comedy block. Among the comedies that aired in the 9:00 hour were Knights of Prosperity, In Case of Emergency, and According to Jim, but by April results were so dire that ABC brought in repeats of Lost to try to help the originals which the net decided during the hiatus to move to 10:00. With Wednesday staple Lost pushed to midseason for '07-'08 the net went with three new dramas anchored in the 9:00 hour by the successful Grey's Anatomy spinoff Private Practice. The writer's strike cut the dramas' rookie season off so Supernanny filled in at 9:00 for the rest of the season. Practice returned for fall '08 to diminished results but got a reprieve when it was moved to Thursday after its mother show. Lost came back to Wednesday for midseason of '08-'09. This fall it's back to comedies with wonderfully-reviewed Modern Family and Courteney Cox-led Cougar Town. Cox's show will interestingly be airing in the same timeslot as her hubby's In Case of Emergency from almost three years earlier.

CBS: Criminal Minds debuted in this timeslot for CBS in fall '05 and has remained a consistent success ever since in the face of some brutal competition. It averaged about a 3.6 in originals last season but Law & Order: SVU's arrival will be a crime drama challenge unlike anything this show has seen.

FOX: Fall '06 opened with legal drama Justice here but its lack of success saw it moved to Monday and eventually Friday. The November debut of game show The Rich List was even more disastrous, axed after just one airing. A Wednesday airing of The O.C. didn't work the next week so Fox just resorted to repeats of Bones and waited for Idol to come back. Among the shows given a post-Idol sampling in 2007 were Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? (outstanding retention got it a regular slot on Thursday), The Wedding Bells (moved to regular Friday slot and died), and 'Til Death (decent retention got it another season in the 8:00 hour). Fall of '08 saw a solid 4th place show in Gordon Ramsay reality effort Kitchen Nightmares, and the big post-Idol launch of 2008 was another game show in The Moment of Truth. In fall '09 came a disastrous hour of comedy including 'Til Death which somehow survived to yet another season while lead-out Do Not Disturb just saw three episodes. In early '09 a drama got the post-Idol nod, with newbie Lie to Me airing for several weeks at 9 before shifting to 8. This fall the choice is Glee, a teen dramedy that aired just one episode to rather disappointing post-Idol retention in '08-'09. Newbie Human Target is slated to get a post-Idol run in the winter.

NBC: The peacock had reality show The Biggest Loser in this timeslot for fall '06 but shipped it to Tuesday and aired Deal or No Deal for awhile before importing midseason vet Crossing Jordan to the period. It continued its struggles from earlier in the season and got the axe at season's end. Fall '07 saw the extremely successful launch of newbie The Bionic Woman but it'd run out of steam within a couple months and was replaced by Deal or No Deal and eventually second runs of the now-on-USA Law & Order: CI. For fall '08 the plan was to use the last couple weeks of America's Got Talent and then Deal or No Deal at 9 to lead into Lipstick Jungle but the night was a disaster so Jungle was shipped to Friday in favor of crime drama Life at 9 which got a back nine but didn't fare much better and in fact did even worse after Lost and American Idol entered the mix in early '09. Life wrapped up in April and was replaced by Law & Order: SVU repeats to close out the season. With the 10:00 hour out of play due to Jay Leno's show NBC is moving longtime Tuesday tentpole Law & Order: SVU down to the slot for fall of '09. SVU's been so big in part because of CBS' problems in that Tuesday 10:00 hour but it took a hit from Without a Trace showing up there last year and Criminal Minds should be an even more potent foe.

CW: One of the most plum slots on the CW due to the America's Next Top Model lead-in has been unable to make anything stick. First it was WB import One Tree Hill in fall and winter of '06-'07, then repeats of Tuesday reality show Pussycat Dolls Present. For fall '07 it was the launch of new drama Gossip Girl but its results were mediocre and it was moved to Monday by spring in favor of another season of the Pussycat Dolls show, this time in originals, and the opening weeks of eventual summer reality effort Farmer Wants a Wife. In fall '08 the net started out with repeats of newbie 90210 but in late October debuted reality dud Stylista. The net could not find any original programming to put after ANTM in the entire first half of '09 so it was 90210 repeats the whole way, posting downright embarrassing retention percentages. There's another new drama getting the slot this fall, but it's actually an original in The Beautiful Life: TBL. Thematically, a modeling drama is about as compatible with a modeling reality show as you can get.

Cable Notables: Bravo's powerhouse reality show Top Chef will be a factor. Syfy tentpole Ghost Hunters will also bring original episodes to the table.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Gender in TV Ratings - Procedural/Crime Dramas

3. Mythbuster: Procedurals/crime shows pretty much don't ever skew male. You can bank on right around a 60 female/40 male split.

It's a misconception that I see a lot - people assume that because there are dead bodies and men doing investigating that it's something that mostly macho men would be interested in. Not the case.

Life 49% male
Southland 45% male
Lie to Me 45% male
L&O 45% male
NCIS 42% male
Unusuals 42% male
C.Minds 42% male
CSI 41% male
CSI: Miami 41% male
CSI:NY 41% male
Mentalist 41% male
Numb3rs 39% male
Eleventh 39% male
WAT 38% male
Cold Case 38% male
Castle 36% male
Bones 36% male
Flashpoint 34% male
SVU 33% male

There are some case-of-the-week shows in the serialized that would fit right in on this list, like House (44%), Life on Mars (44%), and Medium (37%), but I decided basically to just go with non-genre crime dramas. The consistency in this group is really staggering, and even among this group, there's some gray area on the edges. Castle and Bones are both pretty "shippy" and light as crime shows go. Southland's grittiness and Life's conspiracy serial storyline keep those shows on the high end of the male count. But for the most part, the variation won't be significant. With very few exceptions, a crime drama will fall within 5% of the 60 female / 40 male plateau. It's quite amazing that all three CSIs plus the big CBS stars on Tuesday and Wednesday are within one percentage point.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I'm not a huge procedural watcher. But here's the deal with procedurals, in terms of gender: they're going to give you a very predictable, very normal audience. The audience you get is very close to the average audience that watches primetime TV. Both in males and in females, you can rely on decent but not chart-topping. If you remember my M18-49 and W18-49 top 10 charts from the first post, there was very little crime presence. The top-rated M18-49 draws were CSI and NCIS, tied for 16th, and they were the only ones in the top 20. Among W18-49, SVU is on the list at 7th, but then only Mentalist at 16th and NCIS at 19th in the top 20. So there are ceilings when you greenlight procedurals, because it's unlikely that you'll do much better than CBS did with The Mentalist this year. There's certainly nothing wrong with being 16th/19th as NCIS is, but compared to shows like 24 (8th in M18-49) and Private Practice (9th in W18-49), which aren't exactly smash successes in the entire demo, you're not swinging for the fences.

19 Timeslots, Tuesday 9PM

Across the last three years, it's been a timeslot owned by eccentric geniuses, first Hugh Laurie's House and then Simon Baker's The Mentalist, but they're both out of the picture in fall '09, while three networks go the reality route.

ABC: The alphabet has relied on Dancing with the Stars in this timeslot, first the last half hour of the performance show in fall '06 leading into failed Ted Danson comedy Help Me Help You, then the results show in future cycles. As is the case on Monday, the adventure comes in the winter. ABC brought another comedy bomb to the 9:00 hour in November '06 in Big Day, then eventually found considerably more success with February '07 effort Primetime: The Outsiders. More comedy disasters filled the slot during the '07-'08 hiatus starting with repeats of According to Jim and eventually bringing in originals alongside burnoffs of fall '07 failure Carpoolers. The '08-'09 Dancing break saw yet more Jim and then a run for NBC import Scrubs which started surprisingly well (over a 3.0 demo) but lost steam by the end. It'll be Dancing results once again in '09-'10. The two cycles averaged a 4.1 and 3.6 in Tuesday originals last season. Returning comedies Scrubs and Better Off Ted are initially slated to fill the hiatus. Both comedies have seen some time in this slot during the summer including some Ted originals which had completely awful (usually sub-1 demo) results.

CBS: This timeslot was the home to the first three seasons of military drama The Unit starting in spring '06. The third season was only 11 episodes due to the writer's strike and so the slot was one of the homes for the strike edition of Big Brother and then a tryout for legal drama Shark which skewed too old on Tuesday and was axed. Mediocre results from the Unit in fall '07 led to an injection of new blood for fall '08 in drama The Mentalist. It was a smash success and aired there all of last year but is being moved to Thursday as a seeming heir apparent to CSI's Thursday 9:00 home so for fall '09 it's newbie NCIS:LA, a spinoff of its 8:00 lead-in.

FOX: The original home of medical drama House, the net moved House to 8:00 in fall of '06 so it could lead into newbie Standoff at 9. When Standoff had a tepid start it was bumped to 8 and House returned to 9, where it stayed until winter of '08 when the net shifted its Bones/House night to Monday and brought in a writer's strike edition of Hell's Kitchen to air after American Idol. New Amsterdam and 'Til Death got brief tryouts in the slot in between the House move and the Kitchen arrival. In fall '08 House returned to 8 to lead into newbie Fringe which lasted for the full season in the slot, staying there even after Idol arrived. Plenty of two-hour Idols air their second hour in this slot as well. But the fall '09 plan is the second half of a two-hour So You Think You Can Dance. New drama Past Life will get a run post-Idol in the spring.

NBC: In fall '06 NBC kicked off its "Law & Order Tuesdays" in this hour with Criminal Intent in what would be its final first-run season on broadcast. In fall '07 The Biggest Loser took up residence in the 9:00 hour where it has pretty much stayed ever since, with the exception of some Saturday Night Live encores near the end of the '07-'08 season. TBL returns for fall '09, though it is slated at midseason to share this hour with new comedy 100 Questions. It's not the first time NBC has tried shortening the show (comedy Kath & Kim was supposed to air at 9:30 in fall '08 but shipped to Thursdays before the season began) so we'll see how it goes.

CW: In fall '06 the CW aired UPN import Veronica Mars to unsatisfactory results. It was canned at season's end in favor of drama Reaper which stayed there for all of '07-'08 and eked out a second season despite not skewing the way the net wanted. However it was slated for midseason and the CW went with another new drama Privileged in the slot for fall '08. Privileged saw only a small expansion on its original 13-ep order and was cleared out by winter so that 90210 could air in the timeslot, away from American Idol. 90210 shifts back to 8:00 in fall '09 while yet another remake Melrose Place will lead out of it.

Cable Notables: Syfy offers Scare Tactics, a reality effort that took a 2.5 year hiatus between its second and third seasons.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Gender in TV Ratings - Serialized/Genre Dramas

2. Serialized dramas are a great way to target a gender.

I'm gonna go really broad here and say there are two types of serialized dramas, "action" and "relationship." Plenty of these shows have cases-of-the-week, but also more serial elements than your average crime effort, so bear with me. Both types of serials are capable of going way off that median 58 female/42 male breakdown.

Smallville 58% male
Terminator:SCC 54% male
24 54% male
Heroes 51% male
Chuck 51% male
Kings 50% male
Lost 48% male
Supernatural 48% male
Dollhouse 47% male
The Unit 46% male
Reaper 46% male
Fringe 46% male
Life on Mars 44% male
Prison Break 44% male
House 44% male
FNL 42% male
Medium 37% male
Harper's 34% male
DH 33% male
ER 33% male
Ghost Whisperer 32% male
Cupid 32% male
B&S 28% male
Ugly Betty 28% male
90210 27% male
One Tree Hill 25% male
Grey's 23% male
Gossip Girl 23% male
PP 23% male

The median show is 42% and I think that's also a good dividing point between "action" and "relationship." I think an interesting point here is that the line between these two types of serials gets blurrier as you get closer to the median. Life on Mars and Reaper had lots of relationship-type stuff (perhaps as ordered by their female-loving nets). Though a relationship drama at heart, the football element probably brings FNL's male number up. Certainly stuff like DH and Harper's Island have heavy mystery/horror elements to them, but anyone who watches them knows there's also plenty of soap.

So when CW head Dawn Ostroff says she wants her W18-34s and she orders stuff like Gossip Girl and 90210, and for all the flak she gets for the bad total viewer numbers on those shows, the point needs to be made - she's getting the audience she wants, and pretty much only that audience. Meanwhile, stuff like Smallville/Reaper is either deprioritized or axed for skewing a long way from her target.

The major point to be made here is this: the median is 42% male. There are very few shows on this list that are right around that number - only four within 3%, and a couple of those in House and Life on Mars are very much borderline procedural. Serials are good at targeting. 5 of the top 10 male-skewers were "action" serials. Six of the top 7 female-skewers were "relationship" serials. Tomorrow, we'll look at procedurals and you'll see a very different story.

19 Timeslots, Monday 9PM

ABC: The alphabet had Supernanny here in fall and winter of '06-'07 but brought on Dancing with the Stars' first spring cycle in '07. 9:30 in spring of '07 was often filled by the first thirty minutes of The Bachelor, which ran till 11. In fall of 2007 the net launched singlecam comedy Samantha Who? after the end of the 90-minute Dancing to exceptional results, but winter airings alongside Notes from the Underbelly were much weaker. Notes continued to air along with extended editions of DWTS-spinoff Dance War in early '08 until the return of Dancing. Samantha returned post-Dancing for spring and fall of '08, and the second half of The Bachelor filled the slot during winter '09. For the spring '09 cycle ABC tried a different post-DWTS comedy in Surviving Suburbia, a refugee from the CW's disastrous MRC experiment. It had significantly worse retention than Samantha and aired there just four times with Dancing often running two hours. This fall Dancing will be two hours all the time, with The Bachelor probably returning to the hour between cycles.

CBS: The anchor for this hour for the last four years has been Two and a Half Men which averaged a 5.1 in '08-'09 originals and is the best-repeating show on television. It will continue to occupy 9:00 in fall '09. 9:30 has been a bit more of an adventure. For most of '06-'07 the slot belonged to The New Adventures of Old Christine, but Christine got a break late in the season for the very successful tryout of newbie Rules of Engagement. Rules won the slot for fall '07 and held it for most of that season, though Christine returned for a few months during the writer's strike to run originals after Men repeats. A third show entered the mix in fall '08, singlecam effort Worst Week, but it did poorly and was eventually replaced by Rules again. This time CBS moves a known quantity into the slot in The Big Bang Theory, which has two years of success in the 8:00 hour under its belt, and should have its strongest 9:00 hour in several years.

FOX: This timeslot is best known on Fox for hit 24 which will return and run consecutively from January through May again. When 24's off, it's another story, including five new dramas across one two-year period. In '06 the net ran heavily serialized drama Vanished out of Prison Break to poor results. It was pulled after a handful of eps and Fox gave another failure Justice a brief shot in the slot. They got improvement from repeats of House which carried them through to 24. In fall '07 they went with New Orleans cop show K-Ville which also failed. Winter '08 saw 24 out of commission due to the strike but the net got pretty decent mileage out of the first season of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. After it wrapped yet another newbie, New Amsterdam, ran in the timeslot for the rest of the season. 24 came back for the first half of '09 and the net used Prison Break there in the fall of that season. This year, the nod goes to sophomore Lie to Me, which Fox is hoping will have compatibility with lead-in House.

NBC: The peacock launched Heroes to great success in fall '06 and it has been the signature show of this timeslot ever since. But the second half of '07-'08 required other programming as Heroes was cut off by the writer's strike and repeats awfully. The answer was generally some combination of American Gladiators and Deal Or No Deal. Heroes returned for most of '08-'09 though reality failure Superstars of Dance took up some time between volumes. This year Heroes slides to 8 while newbie Trauma will lead out of it.

CW: The original CW home to newbie Runaway, this timeslot instantly saw change as the net brought its UPN comedy block to the night, with Girlfriends and The Game occupying this hour. Spring '08 saw the move of One Tree Hill to this slot alongside lead-in Gossip Girl. With the shows fizzling by 2009 the net decided to move OTH to 8 to lead into Gossip Girl which has had some downright disastrous repeat results this summer. Remains to be seen how the switch will work out.

Cable notables: As at 8, ESPN's Monday Night Football is a part of the mix. ABC Family will go with season 3 of young-skewing dramedy Greek.

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