This is a week later than I intended, in part due to me kinda forgetting about Memorial Day last week and not being available to get it finished. So sorry about that. Anyway, most of the TV blargs that people actually read do some kind of summer TV preview, but there's not a whole lot of numerical info there for a ratings guru like myself. Since summer ratings are defined in large part by cable, and info on cable ratings is not as accessible, I thought I'd do a quick roundup of summer ratings. On the cable roundup, I'll usually focus on two or three nets of note and then do a quick rundown of other notables whose ratings I don't know as much about.
The Bachelorette - The Bachelor/Bachelorette is a unique franchise in that its ratings almost always go uniformly upward over the course of a season, with the exception of the season premiere that gets a post-Dancing with the Stars boost. Last year, the first episodes after the premiere were in the low 2's but ended up in the upper 2's toward the end and a 3.5 for the last Monday edition. This year, the first not-after-DWTS airing posted a 2.5, up 0.4 from the same airing last year. Could be good tidings.
True Beauty - True Beauty debuted in early 2009 to surprisingly good retention out of ABC's resurgent Bachelor franchise, averaging about a 3.0 demo. After well over a year off the air, the show did not return with a bang, premiering on May 24 to just a 2.0 demo. But it'll be interesting to see if it continues to perform well retention-wise... if so, these numbers could rise along with the inevitable Bachelorette rise.
The "second string" for ABC on this night is Bachelor Pad, which will bring back some former Bachelor/Bachelorette contestants for a "second chance at love," and Dating in the Dark, a second-year show that did decently out of the Bachelorette last summer. Those two will show up on August 9, after the other two shows wrap up.
Usually I won't throw repeat-filled nights into this discussion, but this one is an exception because the Two and a Half Men/Big Bang Theory repeat hour is so potent that it will make CBS a contender on this evening even without originals. Look for them to stay ahead of completely original nights on NBC and Fox.
Last Comic Standing - After the summer of 2008, NBC axed almost its entire summer reality slate, and perhaps the most notable victim was veteran comedian competition reality program Last Comic Standing, done after six seasons. But after a whooping one summer off the air, the show returns, this time hosted by The Office and Hot Tub Time Machine's Craig Robinson. Admittedly, the show was sputtering in Summer 2008, averaging only around a 1.8 demo, but NBC hopes the new host will bring some buzz and perhaps absence will make the heart grow fonder.
Persons Unknown - One of Fox TV Studios' three "cost-efficient" scripted series this summer, the odds aren't particularly good for the mystery/horror genre lately, so don't count on this one doing a whole lot. But, as the ads say, it's a "miniseries event" and "by the end of the summer, answers will be known."
Lie to Me - This is going to be one of the more interesting shows to watch this summer because it represents about as close as you can get to a true good faith effort at programming scripted TV in the summer. Most summer scripted efforts are either burnoffs or somehow very cost-controlled, often as an international co-production. But Lie to Me is neither; in fact, it's a legit broadcast program that's aired a season and a half in the regular season, has already been renewed for a third season, and will be on the fall schedule as well. How's it done in the regular season? It finished its first season run on Wednesdays at 8pm in the low to mid 2's, while in season 2 to date it's usually gotten upper 2's with a large House lead-in. I think a 2.0 average for this show in the summer would be a nice achievement, but I'm not banking on that happening.
The Good Guys - This is another show that airs in the summer and is already skedded for the fall, but this one may well not last that long, if the 1.5 it got in a pre-Idol preview on May 19 is any indication. It does fall under the "cost-controlled" banner I talked about above, as it's one of three productions from Fox TV Studios, which "has focused its efforts on producing cost-efficient series and relying on international dollars as well" according to Variety.
TNT - The biggest hit on this network, The Closer, will air on Monday nights starting on July 12. Despite its extremely gaudy total viewer numbers, The Closer is not quite as massive in the demo, pulling mid-1's for most of last summer. Saving Grace is playing out its low-rated final episodes right now (last two pulled just 0.4 in the demo) and will be out of the way by the time The Closer returns, making way for new lead-out Rizzoli and Isles starring Angie Harmon.
ABC Family - Monday at 8pm is the home of ABC Family's flagship show, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, which has pretty comfortably outrated almost every other original in network history. It usually pulls low 1's in adults 18-49, which is still strong by cable standards, but on ABC Family the more important demos are women 18-34 and female teens, and the show is a blockbuster there. The recent lead-out for the show has been Make It or Break It, typically a show that's done around two-thirds retention out of Secret Life, but it will move to 10pm this summer in favor of newbie Huge.
Other - Showtime's Weeds shows up late in the summer accompanied by newbie The Big C. There are a few reality tentpoles on this evening as well, from A&E's Intervention and Obsessed to History's American Pickers and Pawn Stars.