Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The War of 18-49, Bones


Scheduling history: Bones has aired on five different nights (Monday thru Friday) and in multiple seasons on each night but Friday. In fall 2014, it went back to Thursday for the first time since early 2012.

See (who saw) how it all began: Something I've noticed about a lot of these shows is that they've taken average or above-average drops in week 2 but then pretty much stopped dropping.  Bones is another such case; it premiered with 10.79 million viewers and a 3.9/11 demo on 9/13/05, then dropped to a 3.0 (preliminary) in week two, a 23% drop. But from there, it stabilized in the low 3's, posting a 3.1 and then a 3.2 the next two weeks and staying in that general vicinity until it got a post-American Idol boost in early January 2006.

The best of times: Much like with House, Bones was at its best when it aired after American Idol, although it didn't get that honor nearly as much as House did. It merely aired there for less than half of its first season. It peaked with 12.64 million viewers and a 5.2/12 demo on 2/1/06. It's actually come very close to that total viewer high on multiple other occasions in multiple other timeslots, but the ~5.0 demos have never been approached elsewhere. That said, its retention there wasn't that great, and it's probably been more impressive as a respectable anchor show. Its best times leading off the night were in early 2007, when it broke the 4.0 plateau a few times.

The worst of times: Probably the worst run this show had was in the immediate aftermath of the move to Thursday. Thursday night had been a major problem for Fox, and in early 2009 they looked to finally find a long-term anchor for the night with Bones.  It wasn't easy going for that first half season, especially down the stretch. It really didn't approach those numbers again until the end of its 8:00 run in late 2010. The show then had another tough run in its return to Monday in spring 2012, dropping beneath the 2.0 threshold for the last couple episodes of that season. Then there was the tumultuous 2013-14 season; it started quite well on Monday, hit a series low 1.2 in its first-ever Friday episode on 11/15/13 before rallying to very impressive-for-Friday levels, then only managed mid-1's in its return to Monday. But 2014-15 was the first time it went way below its consistent league average-ish level, as low as a 1.0 on four occasions during the spring of 2015. It went fractional for the first time at the end of the following fall, and as low as a 0.7 on 6/16/16. It hit 0.7 four more times in the final season.

Then vs. now: With a 12-season run in the books, it is undeniably impressive that Bones managed to last this long on a network with limited real estate despite never really being a hit. It's been pretty much the ultimate utility player, moving timeslots ten times in nine seasons, and you can't underestimate the value of that kind of thing to a network. In 2013-14, the network finally pulled the trigger on a long-threatened move to Friday, but it was the second in-season move (back to Monday) that appears to have most damaged Bones. Rumors swirled about the end being near through the tenth season, and the low ratings were seemingly obliging with that narrative. But Fox has plenty of other problems, and that got it back in the Thursday 8/7c saddle for season eleven. However, it couldn't turn things around, so season 12 was announced as the last one.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

12005-06Tu 8:00, We 8:00, We 9:003.722.75.2detail
2Summer 2006-07Wednesday 8:003.22-13%2.54.4detail
32007-08Tue 8:00, Mon 8:003.17-1%2.73.6detail
42008-09Wed 8:00, Thu 8:002.91-8%2.33.5detail
52009-10Thursday 8:002.88-1%2.43.6detail
62010-11Thu 8:00, Thu 9:002.99+4%2.23.9detailB-
72011-12Mon 8:00, Thu 9:002.39-20%1.93.3detailC-
82012-13Monday 8:002.14-11%1.92.6detailB
92013-14Mon 8:00, Fri 8:001.72-19%1.22.3detailB-
102014-15Thursday 8:001.25-27%1.01.7detailD
12Winter 2017Tuesday 9:000.81-18%0.71.0detailC

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

2Summer 2006-0785solid(sum)1.05-7%661177293
12Winter 201766flop0.81-3%57827382


The War of 18-49 chronicles the ratings history of veteran primetime series. For more, see the Index.

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