COLD CASE (CBS)
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:
|2||2004-05||3.1||3.70||4.8||22/23, 3 prelim|
|7||2009-10||Sun 9:00, Sun 10:00||1.7||2.14||2.6|
|Premiere||Average||Finale||P -> F|
For more on The War of 18-49, my look at the history of primetime TV's veteran shows, see the Index.