Friday, August 13, 2010

The War of 18-49, Supernanny


Why post this on Friday? It's aired a lot on Monday and a little on Wednesday, but it aired its last three seasons on Friday, as well as the first half of the 2005-06 season.

See (who saw) how it all began: This is one of a few long-running reality franchises for which I can proclaim, "It premiered with less than 10 million viewers!!!" as if that's some kind of world-changing statistic. It joins previously-covered American Idol and The Bachelor with that distinction, bowing with 9.97 million viewers and a 3.6/9 demo on 1/17/05. It would grow from there, posting a 3.9 in week 2, a 4.5 in week 3, and then a series high 4.7 in week 4. Most of its short season 1 got upper 3's and low 4's in the demo.

The best of times: It's tough to evaluate Supernanny just by looking at the season averages, because so many are heavily influenced by the inherent disadvantages of airing on Friday night or by the hit from American Idol.  The short first season was the strongest by average, but the season 2 average is only way lower because of its Friday run. It was as strong as in season 1 when it got shipped back to Monday halfway through season 2, and it was a very strong mid-season replacement option during the writer's strike-induced dead zone of early 2008 until Idol moved to 9pm and crushed its average for that season. Still, despite having its times as an admirable performer, it never got higher than the 4.7 demo on 2/7/05.

The worst of times: Though Supernanny (along with Wife Swap) was an unheralded ratings success story of that writer's strike period, the net quickly deprioritized it from there. They got an OK season out of the pair on Friday in 2008-09, but then decided they only had half as much room for the two shows in 2009-10, and Supernanny was the one that got the fall showings while Swap filled in at midseason. Then it ran fifteen more quiet episodes in the same timeslot during the 2010-11 season. The lowest it got was a 0.9 on 11/27/09, 3/4/11 and 3/11/11.

Then vs. now: Supernanny proved a pretty potent utility player at various times in its first four seasons, but it just kept getting less and less important to ABC. It was still a fairly reliable 3.0+ performer as late as the first half of season 4, but it spent the last three years of its run filling up Friday real estate with what soon became modest-even-for-Friday numbers. Its final season's ratings were less than a third of what it proved capable of garnering in the first half of its run. Was it given the Friday treatment too early? Maybe so, but inexpensively eating up that much time in the always challenging Friday timeslots was a valuable role in its own right.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
12004-05Monday 10:003.872.94.7

22005-06Fri 8:00, Mon 9:002.89-25%1.84.4

32006-07Monday 9:003.40+18%2.14.2

42007-08Wednesday 9:002.73-20%1.94.0

52008-09Friday 9:001.71-38%1.12.3

62009-10Friday 8:001.22-29%0.91.6


Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
12004-05 95 marginal1.60 71 115 88 88
22005-06 71 solid(Fri)1.20 -25% 44 108 44 103
32006-07 90 marginal1.52 +27% 56 111 77 56
42007-08 83 marginal1.39 -9% 57 121 109 76
52008-09 57 flop0.95 -31% 37 76 50 50
62009-10 43 flop0.73 -24% 32 57 39 39
72010-11 43 flop0.72 -1% 35 51 47 39

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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