Friday, July 16, 2010

The War of 18-49, Ugly Betty


Why Friday? In order to get exactly eight shows on every day, I had to get a little... creative at times. Yes, out of Ugly Betty's four seasons, it only aired about half of one on this night, and it was its lowest-rated run ever.  But there's another reason; Betty was originally slated to air on Friday in its first season. An audible by ABC led to a pairing with Grey's Anatomy on Thursday, which probably benefited both shows.

See (who saw) how it all began: Betty began pretty big, with 16.32 million viewers and a 5.0/14 in the demo on 9/28/06, a number that exceeded many expectations for the show.  In week two, the drop was just 10% in the demo to a 4.5. It would spend its first seven episodes and 13 of its first 16 episodes above the 4.0 mark, so the show held up well.

The best of times: The series premiere was a series high for the show, but perhaps the strongest run of episodes for the show was about midway through season 1, when it had five straight episodes with a 4.4 demo or higher from 1/11/07 through 2/15/07.

The worst of times: It was pretty much downhill from that point, though; after a month off, it returned on 3/15/07 with merely a 3.5 demo and posted low to mid 3's for the rest of season 1 and early season 2, then dipped below a 3.0 late in season 2, then took another plunge late in season 3 to around the 2.0 mark.  This prompted the move to Friday. Friday moves inherently cause a ton of audience loss, little of which was recovered when the show got sent back to Wednesday for its final run late in season 4. Its lowest point was a 0.9 demo on 11/27/09.

Then vs. now: It's kinda par for the course for serialized dramas, even the successful ones; the audience loss is substantial. The season 4 average is only barely over a third of the season 1 average, and comparing the show's best run (mid-season 1) with its worst run (early season 4 on Friday), it's nearly a three-quarters drop. The show lives on with a syndication deal on TV Guide Channel, but the first-run results had dipped way too low for ABC to stick it out for another year of syndie eps.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
12006-07Thursday 8:003.972.85.0



42009-10Fri 9:00, Wed 10:001.36-42%0.91.7

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
12006-07 105 solid1.77 74 133 133 96
22007-08 92 marginal1.54 -13% 67 118 118 85
32008-09 78 marginal1.31 -15% 57 110 110 63
42009-10 48 flop0.81 -38% 32 60 50 60

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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