Sunday, August 8, 2010

The War of 18-49, Cold Case


Why post this on Sunday? Cold Case aired its entire 156-episode run on Sundays, though it aired regularly in three different hours on the night. (8:00 in seasons 1-3, 9:00 in seasons 4-6 and part of 7, and 10:00 in parts of 7)

See (who saw) how it all began: The Cold Case series premiere pulled 15.85 million viewers and a 3.4/9 in the demo on 9/28/03.  That's a pretty modest start for CBS in 2003, but it only dropped 6% to a (preliminary) 3.2 the next week and stabilized around that number for the next couple months before leaping up big time on 11/30/03 to a 4.3/10 demo.

The best of times: My info on the first three Cold Case seasons is fairly limited, but it seems like the show peaked in seasons 2 and 3, when breaking 4.0 was a relatively frequent occurrence out of my data. The highest demo I have was a 4.8/11 demo on 11/14/04, while the viewer high was 19.36 million on 11/27/05. Even as late as season 4, though, it managed to break a 4.0 sometimes.

The worst of times: The show took a dip into the upper 2's for seasons 5 and 6, but then it took a massive drop in its final season, as the post-Three Rivers timeslot and some 10:30 or later starts due to NFL overrun really hurt matters. The low point was a 1.7 on 11/1/09 and 11/8/09. It made a minor rally in the second half of the season back into the low 2's, but that was largely thanks to a big lead-in from surprise hit Undercover Boss, and even if not for the large lead-in, it likely wouldn't have been enough to save the show.

Then vs. now: Cold Case was one of those unsung heroes that very quietly put up decent but not particularly hit-like numbers, and suddenly one day you realize it's been doing this for seven years. It was pretty consistent for the first four of those years and still reasonable enough to renew for the next two, but it was not strong enough to withstand the 10:00 hour and the late starts. Season 7 was down more than 40% from the very rough averages I have for the peak seasons.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
12003-04Sunday 8:003.482.84.3



42006-07Sunday 9:003.61-3%2.74.3



72009-10Sun 9:00, Sun 10:002.14-20%1.72.6

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
12003-04 86 marginal1.44 69 106 84 79
22004-05 91 marginal1.53 +6% 76 118 91 78
32005-06 91 marginal1.54 +1% 69 111 79 74
42006-07 96 marginal1.61 +5% 72 114 109 85
52007-08 88 marginal1.47 -9% 63 106 94 73
62008-09 89 marginal1.50 +2% 70 103 90 86
72009-10 76 marginal1.28 -14% 60 92 75 78

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


Spot said...

Kind of a random place to ask but it is as good as any so here it goes: will you ever publish the actual numbers for these shows for which you have wars of 18-49? I know you have the averages but I mean in terms of complete series of numbers. I find it so hard to find some of them!

Spot said...

Not for every single one, but there will probably be another wave of them at some point. I'll add Cold Case to the list. Any others in particular?

Spot said...

Thanks! 24 if you have it would be cool, especially seeing as the show is coming back!

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