Saturday, August 28, 2010

War is Over, or The War of 18-49 Post-mortem

I hate to be one of those people who just writes about what I'm going to write about in the future, since 1) nobody cares and 2) it's usually a sign that the end is near (how many dead blogs end with a post that says "more to come tomorrow!") but I hope that my 59-part epic poem about TV ratings in the 2000s was enough to earn me one such rant.

Looking Back on the War of 18-49

I feel quite a sense of accomplishment having set out to do what seemed like a truly overwhelming project and actually getting it done. I started digging for ratings within a week or two of the end of the regular season, decided to write up the whole deal sometime in June, started rolling out the posts in early July, and in late August, here we are, finally wrapping it up. Quite a massive project, and probably a bigger undertaking than anything else I'll do on this blog.

My primary goal with this was to become more knowledgeable about TV ratings, and I think I have done that. I feel like I had a decent knack for looking at the numbers before, but now my context is much more considerable and I have a great archive of numbers to look back on. It kinda bugs me that I couldn't find more complete ratings for most of these shows, and I'm sorry if you feel the incompleteness is... I dunno, "unprofessional" or something. I'm sure there are some individual show fanatics out there who have more data on their shows than I do, but I still feel I've put together a pretty impressive collection of old ratings, particularly in the all-important A18-49 demo. (So many places with old ratings just look at households or viewers.) Even though I feel like I often spent half of the posts apologizing for my lack of info, in most cases the estimates are fine as a starting point. If I ever find a source somewhere that can fill in all the missing info, I may go back and do some serious re-averaging some time.

Till then, I've still learned a ton from a sheer numbers standpoint. If even one reader feels the same way from reading this stuff, that's awesome. This series didn't make the blog an overnight sensation or anything, not even close, but I think quite a few people stumbled across this blog thanks to the War and I hope some have stuck around. I really appreciate everyone who's read, commented, or shouted out, and I hope you'll stick with me going forward.  Speaking of going forward...

The Future of the War of 18-49

We're a long way from summer 2011, but my extremely preliminary plans are to bring back The War of 18-49 next summer. The idea kind of turns my stomach right now, since this project chewed up such a massive portion of my free time this summer! But there's plenty more history to be archived.(Also, future versions would not take nearly as much time. Not even in the same stratosphere.) So here are a few of the ideas:
  • Breaking down the battlegrounds: As I was finishing off my Final Battlegrounds post, which went up yesterday, I realized that post is pretty damn big.  I think I'm going to break it apart into some more manageable pieces so we can track how similar shows evolved over time. Ideally, I'll do that within the next three weeks, so that isn't a next summer thing.
  • Updates to the War: Everything that will be on the air in 2010-11 will hopefully at least get its 2010-11 average added on and maybe another sentence added to their text. I've thought about taking a select set of shows that already have a War of 18-49 post but had a very interesting year for one reason or another and re-featuring those. We'll see how 2010-11 shakes down.
  • Additions to the War: The main criteria for additions to the War of 18-49 going forward will remain that the show has been on the air for 4+ years. That may not be a totally hard and fast rule, but I will continue to use it for the average new addition. So the very first new additions would be newly eligible shows like Chuck, Gossip Girl, The Big Bang Theory, and Private Practice. There are some other shows that are eligible but that I didn't do for a variety of reasons. There are a few eligible shows like Deal or No Deal, King of the Hill, Prison Break, and Everybody Hates Chris which I didn't get around to or forgot about until very late in the process. I may look at those shows which failed my "too boring" criteria that pushed out America's Funniest Home Videos, all the newsmagazines, and Fox Saturday stuff, but probably not (I don't want tons of shows where I know nothing about the early history; I think L&O, Simpsons, and ER were enough). Beyond that, I would probably look into bending the "ended recently" rule to look at some defining shows like Friends that I'd have at least some data on, but again, I'd be missing the early history in most cases. I might look into cable shows also, but I kinda doubt it, because again of the availability of data issue. We'll see. I may just do the new broadcast shows from 2007-08 and call it a day.
  • Other projects: Every once in awhile I'll take on a one-shot type of project that looks at some theme or trend or something, and those will only get better now that I have so much more info. I'm not sure I'd want to go ten years into the past for a post like The Finale Spike, but it'll be cool to have that option. So the benefits of the War of 18-49 certainly don't end with this post. Bottom line is I'll just plain know more stuff and have access to more stuff, and that can never hurt.
Tomorrow, we launch into another project! Hope you'll join me!


      yankeesrj12 said...

      spotupj, the War of 18-49 was a great read each day. At first I didn't think I would read any of the info listed, but it turned out to be very interesting.

      I noticed you said something about doing stuff like Friends, and I found a site that has all the ratings from every episode. I don't know how accurate it is, but here it is:

      Thanks again! :)

      Spot said...

      Thanks yanks, that means a lot! That's another old archive that is mostly total viewer info, but if I went farther back in time, I think I'd have to resort to that anyway... I had a lot of trouble finding any demo info before around the turn of the century.

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