Monday, July 19, 2010

The War of 18-49, How I Met Your Mother


Scheduling history: How I Met Your Mother aired its entire 208-episode run to date in the first hour of Monday night, and the vast majority of that came in the lead-off role. It moved to 8:30 very briefly at the beginning of season two in favor of newbie The Class, then it later returned to 8:30 for a season and a half after newbie The Big Bang Theory came on strong.

See (who saw) how it all began: How I Met Your Mother premiered on 9/19/05 with 10.94 million viewers and a 3.9/10 in the demo.  An OK number, but certainly not on par with the gems of CBS' Monday comedy lineup like Two and a Half Men and Everybody Loves Raymond, which had ended the previous season. It dropped 10% to a 3.5 in week two, then bounced back up to a 3.9 the next week and would stay in the mid to upper 3's for the next couple months.

The best of times: Always love doing the rare posts when the "best of times" doesn't come at the very beginning. And with HIMYM, it was nowhere near the very beginning, as the show essentially plugged along for two and a half years as a bubble show that usually rated in the low to mid 3's. But then, a Britney Spears guest spot happened, and How I Met Your Mother became one of primetime's very few shows to build some genuine momentum in the immediate aftermath of the WGA writer's strike of 2007-08, peaking at a 4.5 with the Britney episode. That momentum continued into the next season. But the show's best days had still not come, as season seven premiered at series high levels (a 4.7 and 5.2 demo for two eps on 9/19/11) and ended up edging out the 2008-09 season as the show's biggest overall. And the final season was arguably HIMYM's biggest triumph of all; it was the show's biggest season in A18-49+, and the one-hour finale on 3/31/14 set another new series high with a 5.4 demo rating.

The worst of times: This was a relatively consistent show in raw numbers across its whole nine-year run, and the vast majority of its episodes have rated between a 3.0 and a 4.0 demo. So the worst of times usually came when the show fell on the low end of that.  The only consistent sub-3.0 run for the show came very late in its first season, bottoming out at a 2.5 demo on 4/24/06 and 5/1/06. And those first two seasons were by far the weakest historical-adjusted seasons. Then in spring 2011, as the whole CBS Monday lineup fell apart in the wake of the premature end to Two and a Half Men's season, HIMYM again dropped as low as a 2.5 on 4/18/11.

Then vs. now: The 2011-12 season saw the sitcom reclaim a large presence near the very top of the primetime charts, and one of that wave's most improbable success stories was the seventh season of How I Met Your Mother, amazingly up 20% to its highest ratings ever. Suddenly, a show that had felt like it might be winding down became a big hit for the first time and ranked as one of the top five scripted shows on TV. Unsurprisingly, CBS found a way to continue the show beyond the eighth season, which many had pegged as its last. It paid off in the ratings in a big way, as the ninth and final campaign in 2013-14 was the strongest final season for a veteran show since Friends left the air ten years earlier.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
12005-06Monday 8:303.512.54.4detail
22006-07Mon 8:30, Mon 8:003.33-5%2.83.9detail
32007-08Mon 8:00, Mon 8:303.50+5%3.14.5detail
42008-09Monday 8:304.01+15%2.94.8detail
52009-10Monday 8:003.53-12%2.84.0detail

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
12005-06 87 marginal1.46 62 108 96 76
22006-07 88 marginal1.49 +2% 74 104 101 80
32007-08 106 solid1.78 +20% 94 136 100 100
42008-09 133 hit2.24 +26% 96 160 133 123
52009-10 125 hit2.11 -6% 99 142 128 124
62010-11 133 hit2.24 +6% 98 153 142 122
72011-12 172 big hit2.89 +29% 131 220 199 157
82012-13 152 big hit2.56 -11% 123 190 171 161
92013-14 180 big hit3.02 +18% 143 287 196 287

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


Unknown said...

Never liked How I met Your Mother...but I was told by many people that their first episode was
much much better.
It was! The show seemed much crisper and a bit edgier. there are a few new writers for this season...I think I will give it a chance!

Spot said...

do the update, please, really looking forward to see it ;p

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