Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The War of 18-49, According to Jim


Why post this on Tuesday? Six of According to Jim's eight seasons aired primarily on Tuesday. The exceptions were seasons 1 and 6, which aired on Wednesday.

See (who saw) how it all began: Suffice to say this was not a show that lived as long as it did because of critical acclaim, and the reviews were bad even from the very start for Jim. So the 12.72 million viewers and 5.7/15 demo that the series premiere achieved on 10/3/01 were considered something of a surprise. Critics got their revenge as it dropped 18% to a 4.7 in week 2, but then it perked up to a 5.3 and a 5.8, and it became very clear this was a show that didn't need reviews.

The best of times: For its first three seasons, According to Jim chugged along as a pretty strong mid-4's show that did better in the fall and worse in the spring, when Tuesday night was often weaker as a whole because of American Idol. It was actually one of the very few success stories for ABC during those infamously "dark years" before the breakout fall of 2004. The show jumped around a lot ratings-wise because of the Idol effect, meaning numbers in the 3's, 4's, and 5's were all common during those years. Out of my data, I have just three performances at a 6.0 or higher, led by a 6.1/17 demo on 12/10/02.

The worst of times: It's funny that the show was an ABC bright spot during their down years but became the subject of ratings ridicule once the net turned its fortunes around. It had a decent year during ABC's breakout 2004-05 season, but then 2005-06 saw a brutal drop of around 30%, and it only got worse from there. An episode on 4/28/09 saw the show hit merely a 0.9/3 demo, the show's only performance below a 1, and down 85% from the show's peak ratings.

Then vs. now: In seasons 5 and 6, ABC could kinda sorta maybe justify keeping it around because they had no successes whatsoever in the comedy arena. But by the last two years, it was pretty clear that first-run results had little to do with the show's improbable survival. It was all about building up the old syndication package. To prove my point, ABC gave it zero fall premieres in its last three years, and only one year of those three seasons did it get a February sweeps airing. The final season of the show averaged less than a third the young adult ratings of the earliest years. Now, even though star James Belushi's new show The Defenders on CBS didn't make a season 2, the critics can (I'm 98% sure) finally rest assured that the seemingly unkillable Jim is dead.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
12001-02Wednesday 8:304.323.25.8

22002-03Tue 8:30, Tue 9:004.50+4%3.56.1

32003-04Tuesday 9:004.39-3%3.36.0


52005-06Tuesday 8:002.52-34%1.53.2

62006-07Wed 8:00/8:30, Wed 9:002.31-8%1.83.2

72007-08Tuesday 8:00/8:301.57-32%1.12.3

82008-09Tue 9:00/9:30, 8:00/8:301.31-17%0.92.2

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
12001-02 100 solid1.69 74 135 132 98
22002-03 102 solid1.71 +1% 79 138 118 84
32003-04 108 solid1.82 +6% 81 148 133 104
42004-05 94 marginal1.58 -13% 74 120 103 81
52005-06 62 flop1.04 -34% 37 79 64 37
62006-07 61 flop1.03 -1% 48 85 66 53
72007-08 48 flop0.80 -23% 33 70 54 57
82008-09 43 flop0.73 -9% 30 73 73 40

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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