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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The War of 18-49, The Bachelor/Bachelorette


Scheduling history: Most of the Bachelor/Bachelorette seasons have aired on Monday, including the first season in 2002 and everything from 2005 forward. But the franchise was at its strongest after it moved to Wednesday in the 2002-03 season.

See (who saw) how it all began: The series premiere of The Bachelor on 3/25/02 managed 9.9 viewers and a 4.0/9 in adults 18-49, which was a fine start for an ABC show during the tough early 2000's, but a relatively modest number considering the heights the show would soon achieve. It built to a 4.4 demo in week two, a 4.6 in week three, and continued upward until the season 1 finale managed 18.19 million viewers and a 7.3/17 demo.

The best of times: The 2002-03 season was clearly the peak of the Bachelor phenomenon, with three of the series' four highest-rated cycles, as well as the highest-rated cycle for each different time of the year (fall, winter, spring). No other airing has even come within 20% of the season 2 finale on 11/19/02, which scored a huge 11.9/28 demo, but the first season of the Bachelorette was probably the most consistently strong season in franchise history, including a premiere (8.4/20 demo on 1/8/03) that was 40% stronger than any other season premiere for the franchise. 2002-03 was the first of three straight years in which The Bachelor/ette ran three cycles per regular season, with The Bachelor in the fall/spring and The Bachelorette in the winter.

The worst of times: By the end of those three years of three cycles, the ratings erosion was considerable, especially in the 2004-05 season which was otherwise brilliant for ABC. Though plenty of people have listed the shows that failed to capitalize on the Lost lead-in, one that often gets left out is the very first: The Bachelor, whose season 6 after the first season of Lost was much weaker than any previous cycle. The show moved to Monday after that weak season, and for the 2005-06 season there was just one cycle for the franchise, a winter run for The Bachelor. The show got back onto a fall/spring schedule for the next two seasons, but ratings continued to sputter, bottoming out with season 12 in spring 2008. The 2.2 demo on 1/9/12 is the lowest regular season performance yet (though it matched it with a 2.2 vs. the Winter Olympics on 2/17/14). The weakest raw seasons were the 2013 and 2014 Bachelorettes, which got as low as a 1.4 for a special Sunday edition on 6/1/14 (and a 1.5 on Monday 6/23/14).

Then vs. now: After that weak season 12, a couple adjustments to the formula created a pretty remarkable turnaround for The Bachelor/ette. First, The Bachelorette returned (it had been dormant for about 3.5 years) as a summer show, and the franchise was skedded as a summer/winter program, filling in the first couple hours of Monday between Dancing with the Stars cycles. Second, and perhaps most importantly, was the adoption of a "continuing storyline" concept in which the star of each season was someone scorned by the star of a previous season. The show had done this in the past with The Bachelorette, but not The Bachelor. They began it again with the Bachelorette revival in summer 2008 and have used it for each cycle since, peaking with single dad Jason Mesnick's season in 2009. That was the highest-rated cycle in a whooping five years, something you just don't see too often in primetime these days. The momentum continued from there, with the 2010 Bachelor season only barely down and The Bachelorette growing in 2009 and 2010. It appeared to be back on the downturn after two Bachelor seasons each dropping more than 20% year-to-year, but yet another turnaround came with the winter 2013 season, which didn't have to face The Voice. The Bachelor has since grown in Plus again in 2014 and 2015, with The Bachelorette having a big renaissance of its own in 2015.

The Bachelor

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
1Spring 2002Monday 9:004.833.67.3detail
2Fall 2002Wednesday 9:007.874.911.9detail
3Spring 20035.99+24%4.77.2detail
4Fall 20036.44-18%4.88.8detail
5Spring 20045.22-13%4.26.0detail
6Fall 20043.71-42%3.34.1

7Spring 2005Monday 9:003.52-33%2.93.9detail
8Winter 2006Monday 10:004.14+18%2.75.1detail
9Fall 20063.272.73.9detail
10Spring 20073.82-8%3.44.8detail
11Fall 20073.52+8%3.24.2detail
12Spring 20082.71-29%2.33.2detail
13Winter 2009Monday 8:004.11+52%3.16.7detail
14Winter 20104.08-1%3.35.3detail
15Winter 20113.26-20%2.74.7detailC
16Winter 20122.57-21%2.23.3detailC-
17Winter 20132.75+7%2.33.8detailB+
18Winter 20142.56-7%2.23.8detailB+
19Winter 20152.33-9%1.52.8detailB

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
1Spring 2002112solid1.898416993169
2Fall 2002 178 big hit2.99 111 269 111 269
3Spring 2003135hit2.28+21%106163113163
4Fall 2003 159 big hit2.67 -11% 118 217 148 217
5Spring 2004129hit2.17-5%104148128148
6Fall 2004 91 marginal1.53 -43% 81 101 91 101
7Spring 200586marginal1.45-33%71969196
8Winter 2006102solid1.71+18%6612666126
9Fall 2006 87 marginal1.46 72 104 82 104
10Spring 2007101solid1.70-1%9012798127
11Fall 2007 106 solid1.79 +22% 97 127 106 124
12Spring 200882marginal1.37-19%69979797
13Winter 2009137hit2.30+67%103223103136
14Winter 2010145hit2.44+6%117188117188
15Winter 2011128hit2.15-12%106185114185
16Winter 2012109solid1.83-15%93140102140
17Winter 2013131hit2.20+20%109180109180
18Winter 2014136hit2.29+4%117202143202
19Winter 2015139hit2.33+2%89167131161

The Bachelorette

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
12002-03Wednesday 9:007.856.09.3detail
32004-05Monday 9:003.95-25%3.45.0detail
4Summer 2008Monday 8:002.541.83.7detail
5Summer 20092.63+3%2.13.5detail
6Summer 20102.98+14%2.53.8detail
7Summer 20112.44-18%1.72.8detailD+
8Summer 20122.42-1%1.93.1detailB+
9Summer 20131.98-18%1.72.6detailC
10Summer 20141.73-13%1.42.1detailC+
11Summer 20151.96+13%1.62.5detailA

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
12002-03 177 big hit2.98 136 210 190 210
22003-04 129 hit2.17 -27% 101 153 138 153
32004-05 97 marginal1.63 -25% 83 123 105 123
4Summer 2008 77 solid(sum)1.29 54 112 88 112
5Summer 2009 87 solid(sum)1.47 +14% 70 116 100 93
6Summer 2010 106 big hit(sum)1.78 +21% 89 135 99 135
7Summer 2011 96 hit(sum)1.62 -9% 67 110 110 110
8Summer 2012 102 hit(sum)1.72 +6% 80 131 110 131
9Summer 2013 94 hit(sum)1.58 -8% 81 123 90 119
10Summer 2014 92 hit(sum)1.54 -2% 74 111 106 111
11Summer 2015 116 big hit(sum)1.96 +27% 95 149 125 149

Note on Bachelor/ette averages: This is another of my convoluted averaging quirks, but I ain't Nielsen, so deal with it; I'm only including After the Final Rose specials if they are on the show's regular night. Some of the ATFR specials early in the run were much, much lower than any of the other airings that season, and I didn't want them distorting the averages too much, since they just don't look like ratings that would be a part of those seasons.

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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