Monday, August 2, 2010

The War of 18-49, One Tree Hill


Scheduling history: One Tree Hill aired in all six hours of Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday and visited some of those hours for multiple separate stints. Its first two seasons (on Tuesday after Gilmore Girls) were the only stretch in nine seasons that saw the show air in one timeslot for two full seasons.

See (who saw) how it all began: I'm not exactly sure why this happened, and if anyone knows, feel free to speak up, but One Tree Hill had a horrific premiere, getting just 2.48 million viewers and a 0.8/2 in adults 18-49 on 9/23/03. It's not like it had no lead-in and then got a huge one the next week; lead-in Gilmore Girls was there but way down as well. But from that premiere number, OTH spiked to a 1.1 the next week and then a 1.4 in week three. It would stay in the mid-1's for awhile after that.

The best of times: My info for the first three seasons of the show is quite spotty, but it seems clear the show was, much like previous entry Supernatural, at its best when airing after Gilmore Girls. In particular, the show was strong in early season 2, when it was constantly pulling a 2.0+ in the demo. The highest numbers I have for One Tree Hill are 5.43 million total viewers and a 2.4 demo on 10/5/04, but my info is pretty sparse for the first three seasons, so it may have gotten higher. Credit also has to be given for the show's performance in late 2008, when it moved back into the upper 1's in the demo after getting paired with Gossip Girl on Monday.

The worst of times: One Tree Hill was impressive enough in season 2 to prompt The WB to have it anchor a night, which it did for the 2005-06 season, and it took a large 25% dive. It was a perpetual bubble show from then until the aforementioned move to Monday. But even that resurgence eventually fell apart. Season 7 became easily the show's weakest, and it went back on the bubble for the next two seasons. For a long time, the series low out of what I have remained the oddly low 0.8 for the series premiere back in 2003. Starting in February 2011, the show finally dropped below that plateau, bottoming out with a 0.6 on 5/3/11 and 5/10/11. It never got that low in the final season, but it was still the series' weakest season by average.

Then vs. now: One Tree Hill has never been an all-star for its network, but it's a serialized drama that somehow made it nine seasons. That's quite an accomplishment, even if at times it's only survived because of the poor performance by the network. Across those nine years, it's been an anchor, it's been a sufficient lead-out, it's been a midseason replacement, and it's changed timeslots seven times. It's been one of primetime TV's unsung utility players. But the end is finally here, as the CW announced a final season after the show dropped 20%+ in seasons seven and eight. The bleeding slowed in the final season, but not nearly enough to count on a 7th Heaven-style resurrection.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
12003-04Tuesday 9:001.550.82.0detail
32005-06Wednesday 8:001.35-30%1.11.7detail
42006-07Wednesday 9:001.32-2%0.91.9detail
52007-08Tue 9:00, Mon 9:001.34+2%1.11.6detail
62008-09Monday 9:001.43+6%1.11.9detail
72009-10Monday 8:001.10-22%0.91.3detail
82010-11Tuesday 8:000.86-22%0.61.2detailD+
92011-12Wednesday 8:000.76-12%0.70.9detailC+

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
12003-04 38 solid(CW)0.65 20 49 20 44
22004-05 48 hit(CW)0.80 +24% 39 59 51 39
32005-06 33 marginal(CW)0.56 -30% 27 42 42 32
42006-07 35 solid(CW)0.59 +6% 24 50 45 27
52007-08 41 solid(CW)0.68 +16% 33 48 45 48
62008-09 47 hit(CW)0.80 +17% 37 63 57 43
72009-10 39 solid(CW)0.66 -17% 32 46 43 36
82010-11 34 marginal(CW)0.57 -13% 24 47 43 28
92011-12 32 marginal(CW)0.54 -6% 30 38 38 34

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


yankeesrj12 said...

Wow, I never knew One Tree Hill premiered that low! I'm surprised it wasn't pulled after the series premiere. Great info spotup!

Spot said...

The year of 2011/12 sucks for the CW. One Tree Hill was marginal but was the third strongest show for the CW that season.

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