Friday, July 23, 2010

The War of 18-49, 'Til Death


Why post this on Friday? As with some other Friday shows, 'Til Death mostly gets a Friday post because it was tough filling the Friday roster of shows and it was tough squeezing it into one of the other days. Still, you could argue that Fox's last real good faith effort to make this show work was on Fridays, paired with new sitcom Brothers.  It didn't work very well, and the show ended up airing a ton of episodes on Sundays in the 7pm hour during the 2009-10 season.

See (who saw) how it all began: Fox had a rough go of it on Thursdays before Bones showed up on the night, so the 8.82 million viewers and 3.1/10 demo that saw the series premiere on 9/7/06 was fairly promising. It dropped 19% to a 2.5 the next week, then another three ticks to a 2.2 the next week, and it came back from the October baseball hiatus below a 2.0 demo. Still, it crept back up to a 2.0 or higher it times, which prompted...

The best of times: ...Fox to put it after American Idol, which is pretty reliably "the best of times" for the Fox scripted shows I'm covering here. It ran four episodes at 9:30 after American Idol results in spring 2007, peaking at a 6.3/16 in the demo on 3/28/07.

The worst of times: Still, the show was never able to develop into much of anything without the Idol lead-in. It was reliably able to break a 2.0 in season 2, but that's about the best there is to say. In season 3, given a Wednesday 9:00 slot, it was below 2.0 by the second week and off the sked entirely after six episodes. But the worst was still yet to come, as it did absolutely nothing in its Friday try early in the 2009-10 season and then burned off a ridiculous 28 episodes (over a third of its total produced!) in the 7:00 hour on Sunday across the first half of 2010. The worst it got was a 0.5 demo on 2/7/10 and 4/4/10.  Ouch.

Then vs. now: After the show was pulled in early fall 2008, it seemed this show was toast, but somehow it would live to air another 35 episodes in the next season, which Sony TV almost entirely subsidized to get a suitable run for syndication. (I haven't heard anything about the show going into syndication, though...) As stated in the previous section, over a third of the 81 episodes produced were basically doing burnoff duty, and when compared to the season 1 episodes that aired after American Idol, there are some pretty staggering percentage drops.  Comparing the 6.3 series high to the 0.5 series low, it's a 92% drop! Even the average of the 2009-10 airings was down about 85% from that series high. Suffice to say this show was not kept alive for the "conventional" reasons and, if it were, it would not have lasted nearly as long.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
12006-07Thursday 8:002.901.76.3

22007-08Wednesday 8:302.49-14%1.94.3

32008-09Wednesday 9:001.75-30%1.42.3

42009-10Fri 8:30, Sun 7:00/7:300.82-53%0.51.3

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
12006-07 77 marginal1.29 45 167 82 90
22007-08 75 marginal1.26 -2% 57 130 82 67
32008-09 58 flop0.98 -23% 47 76 76 57
42009-10 29 flop0.49 -50% 18 46 28 21

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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