Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The War of 18-49, Lost


Why post this on Wednesday? Four of Lost's six seasons aired on Wednesday, and the show actually aired regularly in all three hours on Wednesday. The show had six regular timeslots in six seasons, also including two hours on Thursday during season 4 and Tuesday at 9:00 for the final season.

See (who saw) how it all began: Lost was the first of four major series premieres in 9 months that would totally reverse the fortunes of an ABC that was slumping after the decline of Millionaire. And while it wasn't as big as the Desperate Housewives premiere a couple weeks later, it was still strong, attracting 18.65 million viewers and a 6.8/20 in the demo. It declined the next couple weeks, but only by small amounts: to a 6.5 in week 2 and a 6.2 in week 3.  Then it bounced right back up to that 6.8 in week 4 and would only drop below the 6.0 mark once in all of season 1.

The best of times: As strong as season 1 was, the clear peak for Lost was in early season 2, when it premiered with 23.47 million viewers and a 10.2/25 in the demo, the show's only double-digit demo ever. Six of the first seven episodes of season 2 broke a 9.0 demo, while no other airing in any season did, and 11 of the first 12 episodes of season 2 broke an 8.0 demo, while just one other airing did.  Are you getting my point yet?!

The worst of times: Lost dropped a lot from its best days, but not as much as the likes of Grey's Anatomy and Desperate Housewives, because while it was never as potent as those two at their peaks, by the very end it was actually a slightly stronger show.  As far as low points, the show dipped below the 4.0 mark on five occasions, including once in season 5 and four times in the last season. The lowest rating was a 3.7 demo on 4/20/10.

Then vs. now: ABC famously announced in 2007, near the end of season 3, that the show would end after 48 episodes across three more seasons. The show was coming off the widely reviled six-episode "pod" and, after a long in-season hiatus, had dropped from a 7.0 before to a 5.7 in the second episode after and was in the low 5's around the time of the announcement. From a ratings standpoint, it seems like a smart decision, as the show's lowest average since then was the 4.46 of the penultimate season, down only about 10-15% from where it was around announcement time. That's a pretty good hold for a serialized drama across more than three seasons, or about two full seasons' worth of episodes. Of course, we'll never know what it would've done without the announcement, but it certainly did better down the stretch than its open-ended peers on ABC. It stayed strong, and it went out strong, and that's probably the best it could've done.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
12004-05Wednesday 8:006.895.98.4detail
22005-06Wednesday 9:007.92+15%6.110.2detail
32006-07Wed 9:00, Wed 10:005.85-26%4.97.7detail
42007-08Thu 9:00, Thu 10:005.31-9%4.66.7detail
52008-09Wednesday 9:004.46-16%3.85.2detail
62009-10Tuesday 9:004.49+1%3.75.8detail

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
12004-05 169 big hit2.84 145 206 167 191
22005-06 195 big hit3.28 +15% 150 251 251 187
32006-07 155 big hit2.61 -20% 130 204 204 157
42007-08 161 big hit2.70 +3% 139 203 203 148
52008-09 148 hit2.50 -8% 126 173 166 146
62009-10 160 big hit2.69 +8% 131 206 195 206
AVERAGE:165big hit

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


Luca Pennisi said...

Nice post, you made a little mistake though. Season 4 aired only in Winter/Spring 2008, just like S5 and S6.

Spot said...

Thanks! Never noticed that. It's corrected now.

Spot said...

Are you able to make SpotVault posts for Lost with all the viewers and 18-49 info? It's hard to find final ratings for this show and see so many different results for this show.

Spot said...

Thanks for the suggestion. I may look into this once things slow down a bit.

Spot said...

Thank you for the consideration :)

Spot said...

" Lost was the first of four major series premieres in 9 months that would totally reverse the fortunes of an ABC that was slumping after the decline of Millionaire. "

Desperate Housewives
Grey's Anatomy

What was the fourth show?

Spot said...

Dancing with the Stars.

Of course they also had Wife Swap, Supernanny and Boston Legal premiere within this period too. Quite a year for them.

Spot said...

Thanks for making a SpotVault for Lost!

Spot said...

I will have a post on it soon, probably at the end of the week. Basically it's an attempt to evaluate the full run of a series. The formula is just sum all the seasons of A18-49+.

Spot said...

Oh well, I can't believe Lost is a "tentpole" for 7 points. It was a star.

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