Friday, August 6, 2010

The War of 18-49, Numb3rs



NUMB3RS (CBS) 

Why post this on Friday? Aside from the series premiere, which aired on a Sunday after the AFC Championship game, Numb3rs aired its entire 118-episode run on Friday.

See (who saw) how it all began: The Numb3rs series premiere had what you might call a "mini-Super Bowl" lead-in, the AFC Championship game on 1/23/05, and it got a "mini-Super Bowl" type of boost, premiering to a hefty 24.92 million viewers and a 9.2/21 in the demo.  Only a little over half that crowd followed it to Friday, but its first Friday airing - a 5.0/14 demo on 1/28/05 - was still pretty monstrous by Friday standards.  Then another third of that group disappeared the next week when it pulled a 3.3.  It may have looked like panic time at that point, but from there the show instantly stabilized in the low 3's for most of the rest of its initial season.

The best of times: It's funny that so many people abandoned ship between the first and the third airings of Numb3rs, but then the audience stayed incredibly consistent (low to mid 3's) from that point until about midway through season three. Though the 9.2 remained easily a series high and the 5.0 remained easily a Friday series high, the show's best run since that point was in early 2006, when it posted a 3.7 or higher for four straight airings from 1/6/06 through 2/3/06.

The worst of times: The show then declined about halfway through season 3 and would continue to drop every year from that point on, but it remained a pretty potent Friday player through season 5, usually outshining whatever CBS showed leading into it in the 9:00 hour. Season 6, though, saw the show in an unfamiliar position: Friday weak link. It was often the lowest-rated hour on the CBS Friday schedule that season, and getting above a 2.0 in the demo was a rarity. It hit a series low 1.6 demo on three occasions during its last season. (10/2/09, 10/9/09, 12/4/09)

Then vs. now: Season 6 was down about half from the show's performance in the first two seasons, even though it was off the schedule for the usually low-rated last couple months of the season. Much like with Ghost Whisperer, it was still one of the stronger players on a rapidly eroding Friday night, but it was the raw number declines over the years that probably saw it come to an end, along with the fact that CBS finally found something in Medium that did OK comparatively speaking in the 9:00 hour. Spending essentially six years as one of the power players of Friday night is a pretty good run, though, and alongside Ghost Whisperer, they spent an impressive five years as the tentpoles of the evening. They may well be the last scripted programs that we ever see last anywhere near that long on Friday night.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
12004-05Friday 10:003.783.09.2

22005-063.40-10%2.93.8

32006-072.97-13%2.33.5

42007-082.48-17%2.12.8

52008-092.23-10%1.82.7

62009-101.79-20%1.62.2


Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
12004-05 93 hit(Fri)1.56 74 226 226 83
22005-06 84 hit(Fri)1.41 -9% 71 94 74 86
32006-07 79 hit(Fri)1.33 -6% 61 93 82 74
42007-08 75 hit(Fri)1.26 -5% 63 85 79 70
52008-09 74 solid(Fri)1.25 -1% 60 90 70 70
62009-10 64 solid(Fri)1.07 -15% 57 78 64 60
AVERAGE:78hit(Fri)
CAREER:468utility



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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