Thursday, August 5, 2010

The War of 18-49, My Name is Earl


Why post this on Thursday? My Name is Earl aired almost all of its run on Thursday, the only exception being its initial Tuesday run.  It got moved to Thursday about halfway through season 1.

See (who saw) how it all began: Earl was one of the last really big series premieres for NBC, opening with a pretty large 15.2 million viewers and a 6.6/16 in the demo on 9/20/05. That's even bigger than the two shows most people think of when they think of big recent NBC premieres, the 5.9 of Heroes in fall 2006 and the 5.7 of Bionic Woman in 2007. It dropped big in week two, 23% to a 5.1 demo, but bounced back to a 6.0 in week three and would spend its entire Tuesday run above a 5.0 demo.

The best of times: Earl was never stronger than when it aired on Tuesday in fall 2005 out of The Biggest Loser, with the aforementioned series premiere 6.6 number being easily the series high and the aforementioned 6.0 in week three being the only other time it cracked a 6.0.  Still, the show made a solid transition to Thursday midway through season 1, hitting a 5.9 in its second week on the night and breaking 5.0 seven times in 14 season 1 episodes after the move.

The worst of times: But Earl dropped in a hurry, starting with the move to the always difficult 8:00 half-hour but continuing from there. An original on 5/7/09 hit a series low 1.7 in the demo, and most episodes during the last couple months of the final season pulled low 2's in the demo.

Then vs. now: It's kind of rare to see drops of this magnitude among comedies; usually it's serialized dramas that descend this quickly. But Earl's final season was seen on average by less than half the young adults that saw the first season, and at those low 2 numbers of the stretch run it just wasn't something that begged to be kept on the schedule. The show that effectively replaced it, Community, averaged a 2.20 demo in the 2009-10 season. That was consistently a bit weaker than Earl's final season, but keep in mind Earl likely would've continued to drop in season 5 (if the first four seasons were any indication), so dumping it for a younger show that did about 10% worse was probably a good decision.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
12005-06Tue 9:00, Thu 9:

22006-07Thursday 8:003.82-25%3.04.6



Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
12005-06 125 hit2.11 99 163 163 103
22006-07 101 solid1.71 -19% 80 122 101 80
32007-08 95 marginal1.59 -7% 73 115 115 91
42008-09 82 marginal1.37 -14% 57 93 90 66

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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