Thursday, August 26, 2010

The War of 18-49, Survivor



SURVIVOR (CBS)

Scheduling history: The cultural phenomenon that was season one of Survivor aired on Wednesday, and then the show became a regular season fixture on Thursday for almost exactly a decade. It's returned to the lead-off role on Wednesday for the last few years.

See (who saw) how it all began: Survivor was one of those big-time unscripted franchises of today that once debuted in the summer! On 5/31/00, it got 15.51 million viewers and a 6.1/20 in the demo. Even ten years ago, this was a great start for a summer show.  But it was only the beginning. It climbed almost 25% to a 7.5 in week two, then another 25% to a 9.4 in week three, and three weeks later its demos were in the double digits.  For a summer show! I'd say more about Survivor's phenomenal first season, but I wouldn't want to ruin the next segment...

The best of times: The two-hour season 1 finale of Survivor was a series high, with a freaking unbelievable 51.69 million viewers and a 22.8/54 in the demo. Yes, over half of the TV watchers on 8/23/00 in Survivor's timeslot were watching Survivor. So monstrous was this result that the next original episode of the show five months later scored a lower demo... not a surprising stat at all till you hear that said episode aired after the Super Bowl. Still, the measly 21.6 demo for the season 2 premiere launched the most consistently stout season overall. No all-new episode of the show scored below an 11.2 in the demo, and the clips episode of that season was still pretty amazing with a 9.7.

The worst of times: Survivor's gone downhill quite a bit since those first couple seasons but has pretty much always been a force in primetime. Most of the bleeding has happened in two periods: the 2001-02 season, in which those two cycles simply came down to earth after the monstrous first two seasons, and then from about 2004-05 through 2007-08, when both the fall and spring cycles typically took big year to year hits. From then, it was relatively stable until the spring 2011 season when it had to regularly face American Idol for the first time in 22 seasons. The show then had another bad spring in 2012, as a show that had gone 23 seasons without going sub-3.0 went below that mark for all but three episodes. The series low is the 1.5 demo for the spring 2016  reunion.

Then vs. now: Survivor was not usually the #1 option for CBS on Thursday nights. It was the all-star of the night in the very early 2000s, but by the 2002-03 season it was being easily outshone by CSI, and that pretty much remained the case until around spring of 2009. But though it didn't maintain the absolutely mammoth Nielsens of its first couple seasons, it has remained at worst a very solid option for an incredibly long time, and its consistency in the late aughts only made it look better and better as much of primetime has collapsed around it, including longtime lead-out CSI. The move to Wednesday might have appeared a possible hiccup, but it mostly pulled it off seamlessly. The raw numbers continue to decline, but it's still not gotten all that much weaker in the relative landscape than it was a decade ago. The end is not in immediate sight right now.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

SeasYearSlotAvgy2yLoHiResultsGrade
1Summer 2000Wednesday 8:0012.076.122.8detail
2Spring 2001Thursday 8:0012.57+4%11.215.9detail
32001-028.506.611.3detail
4Spring 20028.66-31%7.510.4detail
5Fall 20028.61+1%7.09.9detail
6Spring 20037.74-11%6.19.3detail
7Fall 20038.08-6%7.09.7detail
8Spring 20048.35+8%6.310.6detail
9Fall 20047.29-10%6.07.8detail
10Spring 20057.55-10%6.59.1detail
11Fall 20056.58-10%5.77.7detail
12Spring 20065.81-23%4.67.0detail
13Fall 20065.46-17%4.36.5detail
14Spring 20074.65-20%4.15.7detail
15Fall 20074.72-13%4.55.2detail
16Spring 20084.16-10%3.84.8detail
17Fall 20084.19-11%3.84.5detail
18Spring 20093.91-6%3.54.5detail
19Fall 20093.86-8%3.44.4detail
20Spring 20103.910%3.44.5detail
21Fall 2010Wednesday 8:003.68-5%3.24.1detailB+
22Spring 20113.27-16%3.14.0detailB-
23Fall 20113.35-9%3.14.0detailB
24Spring 20122.83-14%2.33.2detailC-
25Fall 20122.86-15%2.33.2detailC
26Spring 20132.56-9%2.22.9detailB
27Fall 20132.47-14%1.92.7detailC+
28Spring 20142.39-7%1.92.6detailB
29Fall 20142.32-6%1.82.8detailB+
30Spring 20152.26-5%1.82.5detailB+
31Fall 20152.11-9%1.72.5detailB
32Spring 20162.00-11%1.52.2detailB

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

SeasYearA18-49+LabelNow16y2yLoHiPremiereFinale
32001-02197big hit2.87153262241262
4Spring 2002201megahit2.93174241211241
5Fall 2002194big hit2.82-2%158223216223
6Spring 2003174big hit2.54-13%137209205200
7Fall 2003199big hit2.90+3%172239207239
8Spring 2004206megahit3.00+18%155261219246
9Fall 2004179big hit2.61-10%147192192184
10Spring 2005185big hit2.70-10%160224224192
11Fall 2005162big hit2.36-9%140190163190
12Spring 2006143hit2.08-23%113172172153
13Fall 2006145hit2.11-11%114173173151
14Spring 2007123solid1.80-14%109151151122
15Fall 2007143hit2.08-1%136157151157
16Spring 2008126hit1.83+2%115145145133
17Fall 2008139hit2.03-2%126150150146
18Spring 2009130hit1.89+3%116150146140
19Fall 2009137hit2.00-2%121156128156
20Spring 2010139hit2.02+7%121160160149
21Fall 2010145hit2.11+6%126161157161
22Spring 2011129hit1.88-7%122157126157
23Fall 2011142hit2.07-2%131169144169
24Spring 2012120solid1.74-7%97135131123
25Fall 2012136hit1.98-4%109152152133
26Spring 2013122solid1.77+2%104138114128
27Fall 2013131hit1.91-4%101143138138
28Spring 2014127hit1.85+4%101138127138
29Fall 2014138hit2.01+5%107167167143
30Spring 2015134hit1.96+6%107149143137
31Fall 2015145hit2.11+5%117172172151
32Spring 2016138hit2.00+2%103151130144

Not included in averages are the post-Super Bowl episodes: 45.37m, 21.8/48 on 1/28/01; and 33.53m, 14.9/37 on 2/1/04.

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

4 comments:

Spot said...

How many more seasons do you see Survivor having? I would say 6 or 7 more (3-4 years), with some sort of special final season as either the 30th or 31st.

Spot said...

Fixed, thanks!

Spot said...

Most summer shows of today are happy pulling in about a 3.0 demo.


Can that be updated? No summer show gets a 3.0 anymore (few regular season shows even do).

Spot said...

The finale numbers for Season 29 are wrong- they are using the reunion instead of the finale.

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