Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The War of 18-49, Scrubs


Why post this on Tuesday? It seems like Scrubs was endlessly shuffled back and forth between Tuesday and Thursday throughout its NBC run, but since I'm already doing three NBC comedy posts on Thursdays, I decided to put this one on Tuesday just to keep ya guessin'. Also, it aired a lot of its episodes after the move to ABC on Tuesdays.

See (who saw) how it all began: My info on Scrubs' first season, all the way back in 2001-02, is very sparse, so take my average below for season 1 with a massive grain of salt.  Fortunately,  I do have the series premiere number, which was 15.45 million viewers and a 6.9/16 demo on 10/2/01. It aired another new episode two days later on a Thursday (don't have that number, sadly) and then returned to Tuesday with a 5.7 demo, a reasonable-ish 17% drop. Most Tuesday results I have from season 1 indicate it hovered in the mid-5's for most of that initial season.

The best of times: Scrubs was at its strongest by far when it got to air after the ginormously-rated Friends. Again, I'm missing some data (but not as much) from season 2, its only full post-Friends season, but what I do have far outshines the results from any other season, including a stout 22.31 million viewers and a 10.9/26 in the demo for the season 2 premiere on 9/26/02.

The worst of times: Scrubs didn't get to air after Friends forever, and within fairly short order it had become a modestly-rated show, but one that managed to plug along for many years on the NBC schedule with demos mostly in the 2's and 3's.  It didn't dip below that threshold until after NBC axed it, when it got around a 2.0 in its first ABC season and then well below that mark in its second ABC season (after losing much of its main cast).

Then vs. now: Scrubs is another one of those shows that a lot of people like to say was mistreated by the network(s). When you look at the amazing number of times it changed timeslots, it's easy to see where they're coming from. But Scrubs was in reality a show with utility player ratings, and it got used like a utility player. Despite its variety of situations, it remained very consistent throughout the second half of its NBC run and debuted at about those same levels on ABC before dropping sharply. On ABC, it became a survivor for syndication purposes that was really at flop levels, especially in the last season, and now it's over. Anything that can eke out 9 seasons without ever really being a big hit must be doing something right.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
12001-02Tue 9:30, some Thu 8:305.714.28.8

22002-03Thursday 8:308.10+42%5.610.9

32003-04Thu 8:30, Tue 9:305.35-34%2.88.5

42004-05Tuesday 9:303.30-38%2.44.3

52005-06Tuesday 9:00/9:303.11-6%2.64.0

62006-07Thursday 9:003.01-3%2.34.0

72007-08Thu 9:30, Thu 8:303.10+3%2.43.8

82008-09ABC, Tue 9/9:30, Wed 82.16-30%1.53.2

92009-10Tue 9/9:30, Tue 8, Wed 81.52-29%1.12.3

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
12001-02 133 hit2.23 98 204 160 123
22002-03 183 big hit3.08 +38% 127 246 246 156
32003-04 132 hit2.22 -28% 69 210 210 121
42004-05 81 marginal1.36 -39% 59 105 93 66
52005-06 77 marginal1.29 -5% 64 99 94 84
62006-07 80 marginal1.34 +4% 61 106 96 74
72007-08 94 marginal1.58 +17% 73 115 115 76
82008-09 72 marginal1.21 -23% 50 106 103 70
92009-10 54 flop0.91 -25% 39 82 71 43

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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