AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL (UPN/The CW)
Scheduling history: America's Next Top Model has aired 16 of its 17 cycles to date on Wednesdays, with most of those shows airing in the 8/7c hour. Only its first two were on another night, Tuesday. It was moved off of Wednesday for the first time in eight years in fall 2012, as it led off the CW's Friday night.
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 has dropped another 35%+ in each of its last 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 a 0.4 a few more times in its move to Friday in fall 2012.
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 have fallen. There's long been a sense the show is 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 seems like this show's time is about up. If the show hadn't been renewed so early (on February 24, before 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 remains among the network's lower tier, that performance on a Friday was good enough to get it a 20th season, this one in the summer.
Adults 18-49 info by season:
|1||Summer 2003||Tuesday 9:00||1.5||1.85||2.3||detail|
|3||Fall 2004||Wednesday 8:00||1.8||2.35||2.9||detail|
|16||Spring 2011||Wed 8:00, Wed 9:00||0.9||0.98||1.1||detail||D-|
|17||Fall 2011||Wednesday 9:00||0.7||0.85||1.1||detail||F|
|19||Fall 2012||Friday 8:00||0.4||0.51||0.6||detail||C-|
|Premiere||Average||Finale||P -> F|
*- 2012-13 A18-49+ based on the season-to-date league average; will update at season's end based on final league average
For more on The War of 18-49, my look at the history of primetime TV's veteran shows, see the Index.