Monday, July 5, 2010

The War of 18-49, Rules of Engagement


Scheduling history: The show's first four seasons and the first half of the fifth aired on Monday. After a year and a half as a Thursday relief player, filling in for $#*! My Dad Says in the second half of the 2010-11 season and then replacing How to Be a Gentleman in 2011-12, it returned to Monday to replace Partners in its seventh and final season.

See (who saw) how it all began: Rules of Engagement was a measly midseason replacement with a 7-episode order when it debuted on February 5, 2007 with a 5.2 in the demo. That's a big number, and it's also an abnormally big 90% retention out of lead-in Two and a Half Men.  The show cooled a bit, dipping all the way to a 3.6 for the season finale on March 19, but it was good enough for season 2.

The best of times: While it never got better than the 5.2 premiere, the show returned for the 2007-08 and spent pretty much the whole year in the 4.0 range. But CBS was so filled up in the comedy department that it got held for midseason, and its March 2009 return brought another 13-episode run of ~4.0 demos.

The worst of times: The complaint about this show was that while it seemed a better 2.5 Men retainer than other options, nobody really knew how well it would do away from that.  It finally got that chance toward the end of its midseason 2009 run and it didn't impress, posting a mere 1.9 demo for an original on a special Wednesday airing and a 2.7 at 8:00 on a Monday. Those results probably contributed to it getting bumped back to midseason duty for 2009-10. Its worst run of raw numbers came at the end, as it dropped back below 2.0 on a couple occasions (including a 1.6 on 4/22/13 and a 1.8 for the 5/20/13 series finale) when its How I Met Your Mother lead-in was a repeat.

Then vs. now: On a network with little need for utility players, Rules of Engagement found a way to get to 100 episodes basically filling that role. It consistently managed to fill in for and improve upon failed fall comedies, and CBS was mostly content with it doing that and not much more; even in its one full season (2010-11), it changed timeslots halfway through. By the end, it was hanging on largely because of CBS' struggles developing new comedies. And with what sounds like a strong class of newbies for the 2013-14 season, CBS finally had no need for Rules of Engagement.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
12006-07Monday 9:304.573.65.2detail
42009-10Monday 8:303.00-18%2.53.6detail
52010-11Mon 8:30, Thu 8:302.88-4%2.23.4detailC+
62011-12Thursday 8:302.91+1%2.13.7detailB-
72012-13Monday 8:302.31-21%1.63.1detailC

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
12006-07 121 solid2.04 96 138 138 96
22007-08 123 solid2.06 +1% 112 136 136 130
32008-09 121 solid2.04 -1% 63 146 130 146
42009-10 107 solid1.79 -12% 89 128 121 114
52010-11 113 solid1.90 +6% 87 134 122 98
62011-12 123 solid2.07 +9% 89 157 152 89
72012-13 110 solid1.84 -11% 76 147 147 85

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


Spot said...

I love that a show that spent its entire run as a utility player has a career label "tentpole."

Spot said...

I think it is interesting it was a solid its entire career. Getting both a 122 and 123 twice each!

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