Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The War of 18-49, America's Next Top Model



AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL (UPN/The CW)

Scheduling history: America's Next Top Model has aired most of its run to date on Wednesdays, with most of those shows airing in the 8/7c hour. Only its first two were on another night, Tuesday, until it was moved off of Wednesday for the first time in eight years in fall 2012. Since then, it's been part of the CW's Friday filler mix, sometimes airing on a weeknight in the late summer.

See (who saw) how it all began: The series premiere of Top Model scored a 1.5 demo on 5/20/03. Yes, folks, this is another series that debuted in the summer and went on to become its network's signature reality series, also counting American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, and Survivor. And that's not even including America's Got Talent, which is still a summer show, but many might call that NBC's signature reality series. Anyway, back on track: Top Model rose to a 2.1 demo in week 3 and remained in the upper 1's and low 2's for season 1, including a 2.3/7 for the finale.
 
The best of times: Top Model's best cycle by far was the second, the only cycle to average a 3.0+ (or anywhere close) and the only one to break that plateau with any frequency. The show peaked with 7.64 million viewers and a 3.8/10 in the demo on 2/24/04. Strangely, the show dropped from that peak and only got a 2.8 for the finale, a number that several subsequent finales would top. After that second season, the show's next seven cycles all averaged mid-2's demos, a pretty nice run of consistency.

The worst of times: It took almost six calendar years for the show to drop to its first season levels again. And now it's miles below those levels, with the spring 2011 season getting below the 1.0 demo for the first time and actually averaging slightly below a 1.0. But that was only the beginning of Top Model's problems, as the show then dropped another 35%+ in each of its next three cycles. That left the show at an embarrassingly low level in spring 2012, dropping as far as a 0.4 A18-49 rating on 5/9/12 and 5/23/12. The show then hit many more 0.4's after its move to Friday and fell to a couple 0.2's during the Friday run: on 8/23/13 and 10/30/15.

Then vs. now: Top Model has had one of the quickest falls from grace I can remember, especially for a show that had previously held up for so long. In just two years, it went from one of the strongest shows on the CW to one of the weakest, and that's really saying something considering how far many other shows on the net were falling. For a long time, there was a sense the show was relatively expensive by reality standards; in the first few years of the CW's existence, the net would regularly schedule Top Model reruns and claim they had to do it to keep the show economically viable. That apparently wasn't entirely truthful, as the CW has since dropped those regular reruns, but it sure seemed like this show's time was about up. If the show hadn't been renewed so early (on February 24, before the complete debacle that was Cycle 18 even began), it may have already been over.

However, the show held up somewhat reasonably in its move to Friday in fall 2012. While it remained among the network's lower tier, that performance on a Friday was good enough to get a few more years out of the franchise. The end finally came in fall 2015, even though the show hadn't gotten meaningfully weaker since it began its filler role.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
1Summer 2003Tuesday 9:001.851.52.3detail
2Spring 20043.01+63%2.23.8detail
3Fall 2004Wednesday 8:002.351.82.9detail
4Spring 20052.36-22%1.83.0detail
5Fall 20052.45+4%2.12.9detail
6Spring 20062.37+0%2.12.8detail
7Fall 20062.52+3%1.93.0detail
8Spring 20072.52+6%2.03.0detail
9Fall 20072.31-8%1.52.6detail
10Spring 20081.94-23%1.72.3detail
11Fall 20081.97-15%1.72.3detail
12Spring 20091.77-9%1.41.9detail
13Fall 20091.51-23%1.31.8detail
14Spring 20101.51-14%1.21.7detail
15Fall 20101.30-14%1.11.5detailC+
16Spring 2011Wed 8:00, Wed 9:000.98-35%0.91.1detailD-
17Fall 2011Wednesday 9:000.85-35%0.71.1detailF
18Spring 20120.53-46%0.40.7detailF
19Fall 2012Friday 8:000.51-40%0.40.6detailC-
20Fall 20130.44-14%0.20.6detailC+
21Fall 2014Mon 9:00, Fri 9:000.38-14%0.30.4detailC
22Fall 2015Wed 8:00, Fri 9:000.37-2%0.20.6detailB

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
1Summer 200342solid(CW)0.7034523452
2Spring 200474hit(CW)1.25+78%54945469
3Fall 2004 58 hit(CW)0.97 44 71 44 71
4Spring 200558hit(CW)0.97-22%44745474
5Fall 2005 60 hit(CW)1.01 +5% 52 71 57 71
6Spring 200658hit(CW)0.98+1%52696269
7Fall 2006 67 hit(CW)1.12 +11% 50 80 69 80
8Spring 200767hit(CW)1.12+15%53806680
9Fall 2007 70 hit(CW)1.17 +4% 45 79 76 79
10Spring 200859hit(CW)0.99-12%51705770
11Fall 2008 65 hit(CW)1.10 -6% 57 76 57 76
12Spring 200959hit(CW)0.99+0%47636063
13Fall 2009 54 hit(CW)0.90 -18% 46 64 53 64
14Spring 201054hit(CW)0.90-9%43605760
15Fall 2010 51 hit(CW)0.86 -5% 43 59 51 59
16Spring 201139solid(CW)0.65-28%35434335
17Fall 2011 36 solid(CW)0.61 -30% 30 47 38 47
18Spring 201222flop0.38-42%17302125
19Fall 2012 24 solid(CWFri)0.41 -33% 19 28 19 28
20Fall 2013 23 solid(CWFri)0.39 -4% 11 32 32 27
21Fall 2014 22 solid(CWFri)0.38 -4% 18 24 24 24
22Fall 2015 24 solid(CWFri)0.41 +9% 13 40 26 20

*- For this winter's War of 18-49 updates, the A18-49+ is based on a projected league average, calculated by applying the league average's current year-to-year trend (thru 1/3/16) to the final 2014-15 average. This should help make these numbers compare more fairly with fall seasons past.

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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