Friday, October 30, 2009

Demos Year to Year, Thursday 10/29/09


(Flashforward vs. Ugly Betty) +4%
Grey's Anatomy -9%
(Private Practice vs. Life on Mars) +38%

Survivor -10%
CSI -29%
(The Mentalist vs. Eleventh Hour) +29%

(Community vs. My Name is Earl) -13%
(Parks & Rec vs. Kath & Kim) -17%
The Office -13%
30 Rock -24%
(Leno vs. ER) -56%

(Vampire Diaries vs. Smallville) +18%
Supernatural -7%

Sweeps Comparisons Return


This on-again off-again blog o' mine began about six months ago when I created daily posts comparing shows to their ratings on the year-ago evening during May Sweeps of 2009. And it's coming back for this year's November Sweeps, if in slightly diminished fashion. The biggest difference between this version and the previous one is that I won't be doing a preliminary one early in the afternoon. Just doing finals vs. finals and saving myself a lot of hassle. So they'll show up early in the evening at best. I'm not sure about all those end-of-week lists that I did in May. There will definitely be some kind of wrap-up at the end of each week and at the end of the four-week period but I'm not sure what form that will take.

And BTW, I choose sweeps because it's the time when there are most likely to be originals airing, not because I actually care about sweeps periods, which I really don't. I don't like comparing repeats to originals and most other weeks of the year there'd be a lot of that.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

First Two Weeks, By Network


If you've been reading my First Two Weeks posts, you know that I am stupidly attempting to come up with an objective way of prognosticating the fate of new shows based on just the ratings from their first two episodes. If this is the first one you're reading, you can click the "new shows" label to see the other posts, along with that silly graphic and lists that I keep posting. Since there won't be another update to the list for awhile (till week 2 of V almost a month from now), and I have a slow Thursday afternoon, I decided to look at how the networks are faring individually. Let's start with the rundown of shows:

EXCELLENT (6 points) - NCIS: Los Angeles, Flashforward
GOOD ENOUGH (5 points) - Modern Family, The Vampire Diaries, Cougar Town, Accidentally on Purpose, Glee, The Cleveland Show, The Good Wife
BORDERLINE (4 points) - Mercy, The Middle
IN TROUBLE (2-3 points) - Community, Melrose Place, TBL:TBL, Eastwick, Three Rivers (3 points), The Forgotten, Brothers, Trauma, Hank (2 points)

The biggest problem with this method, as I've mentioned before, is that despite the Big 4 all being relatively scrunched together ratings-wise, they have very different standards for scripted TV. (Because a net like NBC is a mess in the scripted department but is really kept in the game by the huge numbers of Sunday Night Football.) So I'm going to just break these up by network.

ABC
EXCELLENT (6 points) - Flashforward
GOOD ENOUGH (5 points) - Modern Family, Cougar Town
BORDERLINE (4 points) - The Middle
IN TROUBLE (2-3 points) - Eastwick (3 points), The Forgotten, Hank (2 points)

Everything Borderline and above has gotten a back 9, and there's a good chance that those will be the only ones to do so. Right now, I think the top 3, FF, MF, and CT, will all make it into a season 2, and The Middle is the definition of "borderline" (has a back 9, but may not see s2). The Forgotten surprisingly stopped dropping after week 2 and may actually be a bit of a sleeper; we'll see. Eastwick and Hank look decidedly finished, just as the scale would indicate. This net definitely has some variety on the scale, and you can almost use it as is.

CBS
EXCELLENT (6 points) - NCIS: Los Angeles
GOOD ENOUGH (5 points) - Accidentally on Purpose, The Good Wife
IN TROUBLE (2-3 points) - Three Rivers (3 points)

As we'll see on some other nets, 3 points is not always a certain death. But in the case of Three Rivers, 3 points looks terrible, because the rest of its network newbies are a 6-5-5. Those high standards may well also plague AOP and The Good Wife, both of which are second-season-bound compared to new shows on other nets but within the CBS context are only average newbie efforts, if that. On CBS, 5 is the new 4. I consider both borderline (AOP perhaps even worse due to its timeslot situation).

FOX
GOOD ENOUGH (5 points) - Glee, The Cleveland Show
IN TROUBLE (2-3 points) - Brothers (2 points)

Nothing borderline here. The prognosis is pretty much correct on all 3. Glee/Cleveland are here to stay. Brothers isn't.

NBC

BORDERLINE (4 points) - Mercy
IN TROUBLE (2-3 points) - Community (3 points), Trauma (2 points)

And then there's NBC, the anti-CBS where almost everything has to be graded upward. Does Mercy get some kind of extension for managing to hang in the 2.0 arena, which has been something of a challenge for a lot of NBC scripted shows lately? Could be. Community premiered well but dropped huge in week 2 and then dropped huge again when it moved to 8:00, but it's still probably a borderline show at worst unless NBC wants to just get rid of comedy in the Thursday 8:00 hour.

CW
GOOD ENOUGH (5 points) - The Vampire Diaries
IN TROUBLE (2-3 points) - Melrose Place, The Beautiful Life:TBL (3 points)

Vampire Diaries is going to be around for awhile, it looks like. TBL:TBL left after two episodes, and its situation was very Three Riversian; it was DOA and then did a serviceable job of holding the DOA audience, which made it look "better" on this scale than it should have. Melrose probably deserves more points than TBL:TBL and if the scale were more precise, it'd have more. That's the CW's borderline show right now.

Fourth and Fabulous, or Why 4th Place Isn't Death


I try not to get too hung up in what place a show finishes in among the shows in its timeslot, because ultimately it isn't all that important. Shows compete for audience members against shows in the same timeslot, but they don't compete for renewal against shows in the same timeslot. They compete against the other shows on the network. That means that finishing 4th place in your timeslot isn't necessarily a death sentence, if you have three legit competitors fighting for viewers.

There have been 4th place success stories in the recent past. Certainly Gordon Ramsay knows all about it, as his Kitchen Nightmares was a very admirable 4th in its initial Wednesday run competing against Criminal Minds and potent newbies Private Practice and Bionic Woman in the opening weeks of the '07-'08 season. It got renewed (and went on to finish a less-admirable 4th on Thursdays). Hell's Kitchen was in absolutely no danger even though it often pulled 4th against Grey's, CSI, and The Office/30 Rock during spring 2009.

For that matter, we could mention 30 Rock, which regularly lost to Hell's in the 9:30 half-hour even if it had a slight edge across the whole hour paired with The Office. That's another one that's not going away.

But for now, we'll look at even more contemporary examples: 4 shows on the air this fall.

Heroes (NBC)
In one of TV's toughest timeslots, Monday at 8pm, Heroes pulls 4th-place behind Fox's House, ABC's Dancing with the Stars, and CBS' combo of How I Met Your Mother and Accidentally on Purpose. Heroes is constantly bagged on for a couple reasons other than the fact that it finishes in 4th: 1) Everybody on the Internet, myself included, seems to hate it now. 2) The ER Effect - instead of comparing it to the rest of its network, people compare it to what its ratings used to be.

And yet, despite being admittedly a shadow of its former self, there's really only one scripted show on NBC (The Office) that we can say is without question stronger. SVU may also be a bit stronger. Heroes has fallen a long way, creatively and ratings-wise, and maybe it should go away, but I think this show is much more in play for another year than many would like to think. TVByTheNumbers has it moving on to a season 5 if the season ended today. I wouldn't be stunned either way.

Dancing with the Stars Results (ABC)
The DWTS results show has generally pulled somewhere between a 2.5 and 3.0 this season, but that's been on several occasions not enough to finish better than 4th or a tie for 3rd, up against the likes of new hit NCIS:LA, NBC reality property The Biggest Loser, and Fox's So You Think You Can Dance or Hell's Kitchen. Last season the show often couldn't overcome any of The Mentalist, Fringe, or The Biggest Loser. People like to blame the lead-in/lead-out for Dancing's declines on this evening, but it was considerably stronger even last year when surrounded by Opportunity Knocks and Eli Stone, which were arguably even weaker help than Shark Tank and The Forgotten have been.

But let's face it, Dancing isn't going away, at least not for a couple years. The franchise can't necessarily thank the Tuesday show for that, but getting two hours of upper-3s on Mondays is just not something the network can do without. Perhaps we'll see the show taking up fewer hours on the schedule in coming years, but for now, Dancing results will be fine with 4th.

Law & Order: SVU (NBC)
Trailing an old tentpole, CBS' Criminal Minds, and two hip new successful hours in Fox's Glee and ABC's Modern Family/Cougar Town, Law & Order: SVU's mid-2 demos haven't been good enough to creep out of the big 4 basement. The move from the 10pm hour thanks to Jay Leno has not been good to SVU's ratings, and neither has Criminal Minds, a more legitimate piece of crime drama competition than anything CBS ever threw against it during its run on Tuesday.

And yet, at those numbers, it's still the highest rated drama on the peacock, which means it's probably not in serious danger despite a pretty high price tag for its two leads. As people get to SVU at 9, perhaps it could even overtake one of the newer hours, but that may well not happen especially with Glee looking at an Idol lead-in down the road. Still, fourth is fine.

Fringe (FOX)
For some reason, people seemed to expect the world of Fringe, and that has certainly not been delivered. Since all three of its daunting competitors joined the hour (ABC's Grey's Anatomy, CBS' CSI, and NBC's The Office) the Fox sci-fi drama hasn't even broken a 2.5 demo. In the low-2's, it's frankly a distant 4th.

But is it dead? I don't think so. Here's what I posted a couple weeks before Fringe's season premiere on PIFeedback:

"
I think a lot of the expectations for this show are too high. I'd be pretty surprised if it broke a 3.0 demo once everything is in play. I think it can survive in that brutal timeslot with a 2.5ish but I don't know that it can consistently even get that. I hope I'm proven wrong, but there are a lot of young adults already watching stuff in this hour..."

Not quoting that to brag. ;-) I'm saying that these results were almost inevitable, even if a certain PIFeedbacker has decided once he's seen the Season 2 ratings that he doesn't like the show anymore. Going from huge lead-ins to OK lead-ins with considerably stronger competition is a tough transition. I think at a 2.0+ in what is honestly the toughest hour for scripted on TV means Fringe could continue to be in play for another season. I feel pretty darn unsure about this, and so is TVByTheNumbers, but Fox had to know what they were getting into here. I don't think they could've conceivably imagined doing better than 4th place, even though that seemed to be the expectation from many people.

All right, that's it! We'll see how the above 4 shows continue to progress, though I'm almost 100% sure at least two of these fourth-placers will see '10-'11 and it wouldn't stun me if 3 or 4 did. I don't think any of them are bonafide failures compared to the rest of their networks during this particular season.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

First Two Weeks, Three Rivers


Sorry this was late, but on an NFL overrun Sunday, you pretty much have to wait on the finals.

Three Rivers (CBS)

Sampling:
As close as you can get to DOA on CBS. Its 1.9 demo is the lowest premiere for a non-Friday show on the big 4 this season.
Retention: Keeping a DOA audience means you're still DOA. The 11% drop for Three Rivers in week 2 could be potentially promising if not for what a disaster the premiere was.
Prognosis: This show is not thinking about a back 9 or a second season, it's thinking about how many more episodes it gets to air. I'm guessing one more. We've seen several shows in that 3 points area below that seem to be sticking around in the short term, but considering CBS' other three shows scored 6, 5, and 5, a 3 (with such a horrific debut) looks all the worse for this one.


SAMPLING

The Vampire Diaries (6.3)
The Cleveland Show 4.9
NCIS: LA 4.4
Cougar Town 4.4
Modern Family 4.2
Flashforward 4.0

Melrose Place (3.9)
Community 3.8
Glee 3.5
Accidentally on Purpose 3.3
The Good Wife 3.1
Eastwick 3.0
The Middle 2.6

The Forgotten 2.6
Mercy 2.3
Trauma 2.2
Hank 2.1
Three Rivers 1.9
The Beautiful Life: TBL (1.8)
Brothers 1.0

RETENTION
The Good Wife +3%
Accidentally on Purpose -6%
NCIS:LA -7%
Flashforward -8%
Glee -9%
Mercy -9%

Modern Family -10%
The Cleveland Show -10%
Three Rivers -11%
Cougar Town -14%
The Vampire Diaries -16%
The Beautiful Life: TBL -18%
The Middle -19%

Brothers - 20%
Trauma -23%
Eastwick -23%
The Forgotten -23%
Hank -24%
Community -29%
Melrose Place -31%

EXCELLENT (6 points) - NCIS: Los Angeles, Flashforward
GOOD ENOUGH (5 points) - Modern Family, The Vampire Diaries, Cougar Town, Accidentally on Purpose, Glee, The Cleveland Show, The Good Wife
BORDERLINE (4 points) - Mercy, The Middle
IN TROUBLE (2-3 points) - Community, Melrose Place, TBL:TBL, Eastwick, Three Rivers (3 points), The Forgotten, Brothers, Trauma, Hank (2 points)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

First Two Weeks, Hank and The Middle


Hank (ABC)
Sampling: Not good. A 2.1 demo means this thing was only a couple ticks ahead of its weak comedy competition Old Christine, and that's on series premiere week.
Retention: Even worse. Christine leaves it in the dust as Hank tumbles 24% to a 1.6 demo.
Prognosis: Preliminarily, this looks like the weakest link on a weakening ABC comedy Wednesday. Not gonna get extended.

The Middle (ABC)
Sampling: A rather tepid 2.6 demo, but it's a number that looks better when you consider what it had for a lead-in. (see above)
Retention: A 19% drop is also rather tepid.
Prognosis: It could stay in play as long as it continues to build big-time on Hank, but right now other than its .5 leaps in the demo out of Hank, there's nothing else compelling that suggests this will be around. I'm on the fence.

SAMPLING
The Vampire Diaries (6.3)
The Cleveland Show 4.9
NCIS: LA 4.4
Cougar Town 4.4
Modern Family 4.2
Flashforward 4.0

Melrose Place (3.9)
Community 3.8
Glee 3.5
Accidentally on Purpose 3.3
The Good Wife 3.1
Eastwick 3.0

The Forgotten 2.6
The Middle 2.6
Mercy 2.3
Trauma 2.2
Hank 2.1
The Beautiful Life: TBL (1.8)
Brothers 1.0

RETENTION
The Good Wife +3%
Accidentally on Purpose -6%
NCIS:LA -7%
Flashforward -8%
Glee -9%
Mercy -9%

Modern Family -10%
The Cleveland Show -10%
Cougar Town -14%
The Vampire Diaries -16%
The Beautiful Life: TBL -18%
The Middle -19%

Brothers - 20%
Trauma -23%
Eastwick -23%
The Forgotten -23%
Hank -24%
Community -29%
Melrose Place -31%

EXCELLENT (6 points) - NCIS: Los Angeles, Flashforward
GOOD ENOUGH (5 points) - Modern Family, The Vampire Diaries, Cougar Town, Accidentally on Purpose, Glee, The Cleveland Show, The Good Wife
BORDERLINE (4 points) - Mercy
IN TROUBLE (2-3 points) - Community, Melrose Place, TBL:TBL, Eastwick, The Middle (3 points), The Forgotten, Brothers, Trauma, Hank (2 points)


My chart has 9 out of 19 new shows thus far in the green zones. Percentage-wise, that's more than should make it. Three Rivers will probably put that at 9 of 20. However, I think the only one of the "safe" shows that's in any serious danger at this juncture is Accidentally on Purpose. And I don't feel really good about any of the not-safe shows, so it's not a terrible system thus far, even if the percentages are a bit high. It's just so happened that quite a lot of shows have barely qualified, with very good showings in one category and OK showings in another.

First Two Weeks, Trauma


Trauma (NBC)
Sampling: A not-good 2.2 demo. That could conceivably survive on NBC but this is a show that reeks of expense, with explosions and helicopters abounding in the pilot. The net was certainly hoping for much better.
Retention: Also not good, with a major 18% drop below the 2.0 threshold.
Prognosis: This show is, even by NBC standards, looking very unlikely to get an extension. Combine its bad start with its bad retention with its seemingly high price tag and this one's probably behind even Mercy on the NBC food chain.

SAMPLING

The Vampire Diaries (6.3)
The Cleveland Show 4.9
NCIS: LA 4.4
Cougar Town 4.4
Modern Family 4.2

Flashforward 4.0
Melrose Place (3.9)
Community 3.8
Glee 3.5
Accidentally on Purpose 3.3
The Good Wife 3.1

Eastwick 3.0
The Forgotten 2.6
Mercy 2.3
Trauma 2.2
The Beautiful Life: TBL (1.8)
Brothers 1.0

RETENTION
The Good Wife +3%
Accidentally on Purpose -6%
NCIS:LA -7%
Flashforward -8%
Glee -9%

Mercy -9%
Modern Family -10%
The Cleveland Show -14%
Cougar Town -14%
The Vampire Diaries -16%
Trauma -18%

The Beautiful Life: TBL -18%
Brothers - 20%
Eastwick -23%
The Forgotten -23%
Community -29%
Melrose Place -31%

EXCELLENT (6 points) - NCIS: Los Angeles
GOOD ENOUGH (5 points) - Flashforward, Modern Family, The Vampire Diaries, Cougar Town, Accidentally on Purpose, Glee, The Cleveland Show, The Good Wife
BORDERLINE (4 points)
IN TROUBLE (2-3 points) - Community, Melrose Place, Mercy, Trauma (3 points), The Forgotten, Eastwick, Brothers, TBL:TBL (2 points)

Monday, October 5, 2009

First Two Weeks, The Cleveland Show


Just naming the shows individually in post titles since we won't have high quantities of them on any one day now.

The Cleveland Show (FOX)
Sampling: Very good. Its 4.9 demo built heavily out of its Simpsons lead-in. It's the most-sampled new show of the season.
Retention: Not great. A 4.2 demo means an average 14% drop, not great considering it had the same lead-in dynamics.
Prognosis: Already renewed for two seasons, so this will be around. The week 2 drop isn't great, but being part of the Macfarlane family, it's hard to see it completely bombing the way previous entry Sit Down Shut Up did in this slot last spring.

Back to the scoring system: three points if you're in the best third of new shows, 2 in the average third, 1 in the bottom third.

SAMPLING
The Vampire Diaries (6.3)
The Cleveland Show 4.9
NCIS: LA 4.4
Cougar Town 4.4
Modern Family 4.2

Flashforward 4.0
Melrose Place (3.9)
Community 3.8
Glee 3.5
Accidentally on Purpose 3.3

The Good Wife 3.1
Eastwick 3.0
The Forgotten 2.6
Mercy 2.3
The Beautiful Life: TBL (1.8)
Brothers 1.0

RETENTION
The Good Wife +3%
Accidentally on Purpose -6%
NCIS:LA -7%
Flashforward -8%
Glee -9%

Mercy -9%
Modern Family -10%
The Cleveland Show -14%
Cougar Town -14%
The Vampire Diaries -16%

The Beautiful Life: TBL -18%
Brothers - 20%
Eastwick -23%
The Forgotten -23%
Community -29%
Melrose Place -31%




EXCELLENT (6 points) - NCIS: Los Angeles
GOOD ENOUGH (5 points) - Flashforward, Modern Family, The Vampire Diaries, Cougar Town, Accidentally on Purpose, Glee, The Cleveland Show
BORDERLINE (4 points) - The Good Wife
IN TROUBLE (2-3 points) - Community, Melrose Place, Mercy (3 points), The Forgotten, Eastwick, Brothers, TBL:TBL (2 points)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

First Two Weeks, Friday


Brothers (Fox)
Sampling: Yikes. A 1.0 demo. Yes, it's a Friday, but that's pretty awful.
Retention: Yikes. It's a 20% drop to a 0.8.
Prognosis: Yikes. This could get axed any second now. However, Fox has a lot of virtually-free episodes of 'Til Death to burn through, so maybe it just sticks around as long as it has filmed episodes. Either way, I don't see any form of renewal.

And now we'll revisit the scoring system I invented yesterday. Three points if you're in the best third of new shows, 2 in the average third, 1 in the bottom third.

SAMPLING
The Vampire Diaries (6.3)
NCIS: LA 4.4
Cougar Town 4.4
Modern Family 4.2
Flashforward 4.0

Melrose Place (3.9)
Community 3.8
Glee 3.5
Accidentally on Purpose 3.3
The Good Wife 3.1

Eastwick 3.0
The Forgotten 2.6
Mercy 2.3
The Beautiful Life: TBL (1.8)
Brothers 1.0

RETENTION
The Good Wife +3%
Accidentally on Purpose -6%
NCIS:LA -7%
Flashforward -8%
Glee -9%

Mercy -9%
Modern Family -10%
Cougar Town -14%
The Vampire Diaries -16%
The Beautiful Life: TBL -18%

Brothers - 20%
Eastwick -23%
The Forgotten -23%
Community -29%
Melrose Place -31%




EXCELLENT (6 points) - NCIS: Los Angeles, Flashforward
GOOD ENOUGH (5 points) - Modern Family, The Vampire Diaries, Cougar Town, Accidentally on Purpose, Glee, The Good Wife
BORDERLINE (4 points)
IN TROUBLE (2-3 points) - Community, Melrose Place, Mercy, TBL:TBL (3 points), The Forgotten, Eastwick, Brothers (2 points)


Friday, October 2, 2009

First Two Weeks, More Prognosis


The Futon Critic always points out in its 10 Things You Need to Know About the New Season that over two-thirds of broadcast newbies don't get to season 2. So on that note, let's assume that being in the top third of newbies is good and being in the bottom two-thirds is not good.

First, lists of all the newbies' sampling and retention.*

SAMPLING
The Vampire Diaries (6.3)
NCIS: LA 4.4
Cougar Town 4.4
Modern Family 4.2

Flashforward 4.0
Melrose Place (3.9)
Community 3.8
Glee 3.5
Accidentally on Purpose 3.3

The Good Wife 3.1
Eastwick 3.0
The Forgotten 2.6
Mercy 2.3
The Beautiful Life: TBL (1.8)

RETENTION
The Good Wife +3%
Accidentally on Purpose -6%
NCIS:LA -7%
Flashforward -8%

Mercy -9%
Glee -9%
Modern Family -10%
Cougar Town -14%
The Vampire Diaries -16%

The Beautiful Life: TBL -18%
Eastwick -23%
The Forgotten -23%
Community -29%
Melrose Place -31%

The lines denote the best third, average third, and worst third of new shows in those categories.** Now let's say you get 3 points for being in the best third of one category, two for being average, one for being worst. Here's the graphic I cooked up.


You're in good shape if you're top-third in both categories, and as I said in the initial post, even an average showing in one category can be made up for by a great showing in another. Mathematically, that would still put you in one of the top three blocks overall with 5 total points. Anything worse than that and there's trouble. This will get a little better once we get all the shows in here, but for now, this is what we got. Here's how the shows look so far.

EXCELLENT (6 points) - NCIS: Los Angeles
GOOD ENOUGH (5 points) - Modern Family, The Vampire Diaries, Cougar Town, Flashforward, Accidentally on Purpose
BORDERLINE (4 points) - Glee, The Good Wife
IN TROUBLE (2-3 points) - Community, Melrose Place, Mercy (3 points), TBLTBL, The Forgotten, Eastwick (2 points)

Is this a perfect or even good system? No, but I think having all the new shows in here is going to help. It doesn't take into account lead-in dynamics (which explains why it likely overvalues AOP), shifts in timeslot competition (Community got shalacked by Grey's/CSI in week 2), or network standards (even though the four nets were fairly bunched average-wise in premiere week, NBC obviously has lower scripted standards than CBS). But I think overall it's not bad so far. Five of its six "safe" shows look very good for back nines if not second seasons in NCIS:LA, MF, CT, Flashforward and Vampire Diaries. We'll see how it develops as more new shows become eligible.

*- For sampling, in order to bring the CW into the mix, I'm multiplying its A18-49 demos by 3 to get a comparable number. The thinking here is that the entire big 3 averaged between a 2.7 and a 3.3 in premiere week, while CW had a 1.0 even average. And out of laziness, I'm sticking with the W18-34 declines for a CW retention number. Pretty messy, but then again all these mad scientist things I do on this blog seem to be. Also, these numbers are updated for finals whereever possible, so they may not match up with previous posts.
**- I allowed only 4 top-thirds because that's closer to thefutoncritic's percentage (31%) than 5/14 would be.

First Two Weeks, Thursday


Flashforward (ABC)
Sampling: It led off the night with a 4.0 demo, which is really good, period.
Retention: A 3.7 in week two means an encouraging 8% drop. This is a preliminary vs. final comparison so it may go up a bit (FF dropped in finals last week) but still, not bad at all.
Prognosis: Critics seem relatively positive in general, and both the sampling and retention numbers are nice. This one's probably going to be around for at least this season.

Community (NBC)
Sampling: The premiere had a 3.8 demo, which in NBC terms is like a miracle from above. It had a big The Office lead-in but retained over 90% of it. That's an incredibly good start.
Retention: Ugly. The drop in week 2 was to a 2.7 demo. That's a really hefty 29% fall. Extremely bad news. However, it stayed steady in week 3, which is a bit of a surprise for a show that takes that kind of week 2 dive.
Prognosis: The ultimate collision of great sampling and bad retention. Week 3 retention was a step in the right direction, but next week comes a move to 8pm and a "true test" of just how loyal this audience is. Difficult to make a prognosis here until we see what happens at 8, but so far it's a pretty mixed bag. I'd bank on a back nine right now simply because upper-2s is still very good as NBC goes.

The Vampire Diaries (CW)
Sampling: The premiere was monstrous for the CW, scoring a network-high 4.91 million viewers, 2.1 A18-49, and 3.1 in the "CW demo" of women 18-34. This was comparable to the breakout start of 90210 last year.
Retention: The week 2 crash was also comparable, dropping over a million of those viewers right off the bat. However, its fall to a 2.6 in the CW demo meant an average-ish 16% drop, which is nothing horrific, and it's stayed right in that 2.6 or 2.7 area the next couple weeks, which is very encouraging.
Prognosis: A lot of the traditionally reported numbers make TVD look really good. In total viewers and adults 18-49 it's basically the flagship show of the network. But the mid to upper 2's in W18-34 are not quite as dominant; Gossip Girl often breaks 3 in that. Still, this thing's not going away this season and almost certainly sticking around for next season. You can book that.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

First Two Weeks, Wednesday


Mercy (NBC)
Sampling: The total viewers lovers may like what Mercy brought to the table more than me. What I saw was a 2.3 demo. Since it's NBC, that kind of number can probably survive, but it can't feel very comfortable.
Retention: A drop to a 2.1 demo means a 9% drop. That's not bad.
Prognosis: It kept a lot of its initial samplers around may have picked up some new ones with Dancing out of the hour. However, it didn't have many initial samplers. I don't think this is going to be a success by ABC/CBS/Fox standards, but this one is probably too early to call either way. There's a decent chance NBC will want to extend either this or Trauma just to fill up all its timeslots at midseason, and there's a good chance this will end up stronger than Trauma, which faces heftier competition.

Glee (Fox)
Sampling: The first original episode of this season got a 3.5 demo and built heavily on its SYTYCD lead-in. That's a positive on this network, where you can count basically on one finger the number of fall programs that can consistently self-start at a 3.0 demo or better (House).
Retention: The second episode dropped to a 3.2, a better-than-average 9% drop. That's good news, and it lost only another tick in week three despite going up against season premieres on the entire big 3, then rebounded back to a 3.2 in preliminaries this week.
Prognosis: Given a back nine after week two, so it'll be around for all of this season. The even better news is that it's going to get an extended run at some point after the 2010 edition of American Idol. Season 2's looking very good even at this early-ish juncture.

Modern Family (ABC)
Sampling: The premiere nabbed an impressive 4.2 demo, and actually built on its Dancing with the Stars lead-in in the demo, which is almost unheard of in recent years.
Retention: A 12% drop is pretty average for a new show as it got a 3.7 in week 2. It's hard to say for sure either way on the show based on that, though its week 2 dynamics were different with the DWTS lead-in out of the picture.
Prognosis: The sampling was huge as far as ABC comedies are concerned, and that alone means it still has a long way to drop before it finds itself in unacceptability land. Combine that with waves of critical acclaim and a back nine looks to be pretty much a guarantee.

Cougar Town (ABC)
Sampling: If Modern Family building on the DWTS lead-in was impressive, perhaps Cougar Town building even more - to a 4.4 demo - was even moreso. It's the best rating for an ABC comedy since Samantha Who? was pulling consistent 4.5s out of its tremendous DWTS lead-in in fall of '07.
Retention: But then it gets a little less rosy, with the demo falling 18% to a 3.6 in its second week. This is neither catastrophic nor encouraging.
Prognosis: The good news for the 9pm hour on ABC is that even their mid-3s in week 2 are well beyond any self-starting comedy on ABC in several years. Like Modern Family, it's got a long way to fall before we starting talking about the axe, and like Modern Family, this one's getting a full season. But keep a closer eye on this one. It has acclaim, but not as much as MF, and its week 2 drop was more considerable.

Eastwick (ABC)

Sampling: The 3.0 demo for Eastwick's premiere is a good number for ABC at 10pm and put it ahead of a couple other 10pm premieres from earlier in the week, Castle and The Forgotten. Considering all three of those shows had similarish lead-ins (between a 3.5 and a 4.5) that's not a bad start.
Retention: Then came a 20% drop in week 2, which is undoubtedly bad news. The 2.4 it posted in week 2 still beats Castle and The Forgotten for the week, but that's a bit of a Pyrrhic victory.
Prognosis: It basically needs to stop dropping pretty quickly, and a show that drops 20% in week 2 usually does not just stop dropping. It's not been well received critically and seems to have been low-priority in ABC's promotion strategy this fall, so even if it's basically on par with the other two shows to which I've been comparing it when the dust settles, it probably doesn't get the extension. Not looking good.

The Beautiful Life: TBL (CW)
For some reason I was considering writing this up yesterday, then following it up with some kind of witty "If I told you that these numbers meant that the show should be pulled immediately, would you think I was a genius?" thing. But I'm too lazy to go look up the numbers for a show that's already been axed. It was DOA, it got even worse in week 2, and it's gone. Period.

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