Thursday, August 5, 2010

The War of 18-49, The Apprentice


Scheduling history: While reality franchise The Apprentice has aired seasons on Monday and Sunday, the show was at its strongest by a wide margin in its first few seasons, which aired Thursday. The show moved back to Thursday for the first celebrity edition, but most of the celebrity seasons have aired on Sunday. The most recent celebrity season in 2015 aired between The Voice seasons on Monday.

See (who saw) how it all began: It began really big, with 18.49 million viewers and a 9.1/22 in the demo on 1/8/04, and it got bigger in week two, rising to a 10.0 demo. It would then drop back to a 9.3 two weeks later and remain in the 9's for the majority of season 1.

The best of times: Season 1 was the biggest, and it's not even remotely close, but it's still fairly admirable that, while it started as an out-of-the-box hit, it still built up and had its best run at the end of the first season.  Three of its four telecasts with double-digit demos came in the last four weeks of season 1, including an enormous 13.6/34 in the demo on 4/15/04. And while The Apprentice is (very deservedly) not lumped in with the American Idols and Survivors of the world as a reality powerhouse, that 13.6 number is higher than all but two Idol finales and all but the first two Survivor finales.

The worst of times: I've done a lot of these posts now, but except for maybe a select couple serialized dramas, I haven't seen anything fall as hard and as fast as The Apprentice. The show averaged double digits in the first season, but by season 6 (which was only three calendar years later) the average was below a 3.0 in the demo!  That's a drop of over 70%. Then another three calendar years later, the return of the non-celebrity edition dropped more than 50% from those numbers. Now, the series low (a 0.9 demo on Halloween night in 2010) is less than one-fifteenth of the series high demo for that season 1 finale. That's the kind of drop you don't see too often. We're talking about a franchise that went from just about the very top of the primetime totem pole to just about the very bottom.

Then vs. now: To NBC's credit, the celebrity version did revitalize the show on some level. It really took till the fifth celebrity season for the show to drop significantly below where "original recipe" was when first axed in 2007, which is impressive considering how fast the show plummeted for awhile. But in fall 2010 we saw just how dead the "original recipe" version of the show really was, and it probably won't be seen again. That disaster didn't seem to hurt the celebrity edition, which in 2011 became the first season in Apprentice history to increase from the previous one (unless you count the creation of Celebrity Apprentice in 2008). A big downturn in 2012 and 2013 again had The Apprentice potentially knocking on death's door. It pulled off another big resurgence with its return from a year off in 2015, but the loss of its host to the political world hurt the 2017 season. It's back into limbo for now.

The Apprentice:

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
1Spring 2004Thursday 9:009.784.913.6
2Fall 20047.535.48.1
3Spring 20056.43-34%4.87.4

4Fall 20054.88-35%3.75.7
5Spring 2006Monday 9:003.84-40%3.34.3

6Spring 2007Sun 9:00, Sun 10:002.86-26%2.34.1

7Fall 2010Thursday 10:001.35-53%0.91.6F

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now14 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
1Spring 2004241megahit4.55121336224336
2Fall 2004 185 big hit3.49 133 199 197 192
3Spring 2005158big hit2.98-34%118182182155
4Fall 2005 120 solid2.26 -35% 91 140 113 140
5Spring 200694marginal1.78-40%811069696
6Spring 200777marginal1.44-19%6211011086
7Fall 201053flop1.01-30%36635963

The Celebrity Apprentice:

Adults 18-49 info by season:

1Winter 2008Thursday 9:003.623.14.5detail
2Spring 2009Sunday 9:003.15-13%2.83.9detail
3Spring 20102.80-11%2.33.4detail
4Spring 20112.82+1%2.43.1detailB+
5Spring 20122.02-28%1.82.6detailD-
6Spring 20131.60-21%1.31.8detailD+
7Winter 2015Monday 8:001.911.42.4detailA
8Winter 20171.080.91.3detailC-

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

1Winter 2008109solid1.3494136136136
2Spring 2009105solid1.28-4%93130130103
3Spring 201099marginal1.22-5%82121114121
4Spring 2011111solid1.36+12%94122110118
5Spring 201286marginal1.05-23%7611011093
6Spring 201376marginal0.93-11%62858171
7Winter 2015113solid1.3983143143101
8Winter 201789marginal1.087310610673

For more on The War of 18-49, my look at the history of primetime TV's veteran shows, see the Index.

1 comment:

Spot said...

I'm almost disappointed that the fall 2010 civilian run will have a Now number above a 1.0...

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