Friday, July 9, 2010

The War of 18-49, Friday Night Lights


Why post this on Friday? Well, it is in the title of the show.  Also, the NBC first runs of this show have aired on this evening ever since the season 2 premiere. It got moved because the ratings weren't high enough to keep it on the midweek schedule. But at the time it made the move, there were people claiming that NBC was making this move because the title was confusing people as to what night it was on! And just when I thought that notion was ridiculous, people start claiming the off-putting title is the reason Cougar Town is low rated!!! But I digress...

See (who saw) how it all began: Friday Night Lights premiered on 10/3/06 with 7.2 million total viewers and a 2.7/8 in adults 18-49.  A pretty modest start to be sure, but a start that no regularly scheduled episode of the show would ever exceed.  The only time it ever beat that mark was when it aired out of then-highly rated Heroes and pulled a 3.5 on 10/30/06.

The best of times: Well, the show rated above 2.5 for four of its first five episodes and would never exceed that mark again, so I guess we have to go with the first few weeks. It became pretty clear pretty early on that if this show was going to make it, it'd be for reasons other than its first-run ratings.

The worst of times: Since the show got subsidized by DirecTV, Friday Night Lights' ratings have just gone from bad to worse, from the low to mid-1's of season 3 to the generally low 1's of season 4 to the really low-rated final season, which never even broke a 1.0 demo. The series low was a 0.6 demo on 7/1/11.

Then vs. now: The last season of Friday Night Lights dropped nearly two-thirds from the already mediocre-rated first season, though there were so many weird circumstances in play (the first window on DirecTV, Friday, plus airing in the summer) that it's not really that surprising. If you're a fan of the show, you can choose to lament the fact that the mainstream never really caught on to this show, or you can feel good about the fact that it managed five seasons anyway. I'd choose the latter; this one probably didn't deserve more than one season ratings-wise, but NBC found some rather creative ways to keep it going.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
12006-07Tue 8:00, Wed 8:002.301.73.5

22007-08Friday 9:001.85-19%1.72.1


4Summer 2010Friday 8:001.06-19%0.91.3

5Summer 20110.80-25%0.60.9

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
12006-07 61 flop1.03 45 93 72 56
22007-08 56 flop0.94 -8% 51 63 63 51
32008-09 44 flop0.74 -22% 37 53 53 40
4Summer 2010 38 flop0.63 -14% 32 46 43 39
5Summer 2011 31 flop0.53 -17% 24 35 35 31

For more on The War of 18-49, my look at the history of primetime TV's veteran shows, see the Index.

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