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 had its strongest early seasons after it moved to Wednesday in the 2002-03 season. 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.

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: For many years, 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. But when adjusting for the decline of broadcast ratings in general, some of those records are beginning to fall nearly 15 years later. The winter 2017 season set a new high in A18-49+ for the franchise, and winter 2019 topped it again. The winter 2020 season was the first to shatter the 200 Plus megahit label.

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 2014 Bachelorette season was the lowest in raw numbers for three full years, finally beaten by the 2017 season (which got as low as a 1.2 for a Tuesday airing on 6/27/17).

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, 2015, 2016 and 2017, with The Bachelorette having a big renaissance of its own in 2015 and 2016.

The Bachelor

Adults 18-49 info by season:

1Spring 2002Monday 9:004.83
2Fall 2002Wednesday 9:007.87
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%3.34.1detail
7Spring 2005Monday 9:003.52-33%2.93.9detail
8Winter 2006Monday 10:004.14+18%2.75.1detail
9Fall 20063.27
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
20Winter 20162.34+1%2.02.9detailA
21Winter 2017
22Winter 20181.74-25%1.12.2detailC
23Winter 20191.86+7%1.52.4detailA
24Winter 20201.82-2%1.32.5detailA+
25Winter 20211.34-26%1.11.5detailC+
26Winter 20220.81-40%0.61.1detailD+
27Winter 20230.58-28%0.40.6detailC

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

1Spring 2002112solid0.48
2Fall 2002180big hit0.77
3Spring 2003137hit0.58+22%108165114108
4Fall 2003159big hit0.68-12%118217148138
5Spring 2004129hit0.55-6%103148128148
6Fall 200491marginal0.39-43%811019193
7Spring 200586marginal0.37-33%71969171
8Winter 2006102solid0.43+18%661266699
9Fall 200687marginal0.37
10Spring 2007101solid0.43-1%9012798106
11Fall 2007107solid0.45+23%97127106127
12Spring 200882marginal0.35-19%70979770
13Winter 2009137hit0.58+67%103223103223
14Winter 2010145hit0.62+6%117188117188
15Winter 2011128hit0.55-12%106185114177
16Winter 2012109solid0.46-15%93140102123
17Winter 2013131hit0.56+20%109180109166
18Winter 2014136hit0.58+4%117202143175
19Winter 2015139hit0.59+2%89167131167
20Winter 2016161big hit0.69+16%134198155198
21Winter 2017189big hit0.81+17%147216175216
22Winter 2018159big hit0.68-16%103205137205
23Winter 2019195big hit0.83+23%157257157241
24Winter 2020222megahit0.95+14%162301228265
25Winter 2021208megahit0.89-6%174231206231
26Winter 2022158big hit0.67-24%127218165218
27Winter 2023136hit0.58-14%103152152148

The Bachelorette

Adults 18-49 info by season:

1Winter 2003Wednesday 9:007.85
2Winter 20045.24-33%4.16.2detail
3Winter 2005Monday 9:003.95-25%3.45.0detail
4Summer 2008Monday 8:002.54
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
12Summer 2016
13Summer 20171.60-17%1.22.1detailC
14Summer 20181.47-8%1.21.8detailB+
15Summer 20191.54+5%1.12.1detailA
16Fall 20201.31
17Summer 20210.94
18Fall 20210.67-48%0.60.8detailD
19Summer 20220.77-18%0.70.9detail

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

1Winter 2003180big hit0.77
2Winter 2004129hit0.55-28%101153138153
3Winter 200597marginal0.41-25%84123106123
4Summer 200877solid(sum)0.33
5Summer 200987solid(sum)0.37+14%7011610093
6Summer 2010106big hit(sum)0.45+21%8913599135
7Summer 201196hit(sum)0.41-9%67110110110
8Summer 2012102hit(sum)0.44+6%80131110131
9Summer 201394hit(sum)0.40-8%8112390119
10Summer 201492hit(sum)0.39-2%74111106111
11Summer 2015116big hit(sum)0.50+27%95149125137
12Summer 2016133big hit(sum)0.57+15%93174137158
13Summer 2017131big hit(sum)0.56-2%98174144174
14Summer 2018134big hit(sum)0.57+2%112166131166
15Summer 2019162mega(sum)0.69+21%120221142221
16Fall 2020203megahit0.86
17Summer 2021145mega(sum)0.62
18Fall 2021132hit0.56-35%110155155114
19Summer 2022151mega(sum)0.64+4%139176141176

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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