Thursday, August 26, 2010

The War of 18-49, Survivor


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 starting in fall 2010, and has now aired there about as long as it did on Thursday.

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 reunions have gotten weaker (and shorter) over the years, and the season 36 reunion became the first Survivor episode to go fractional. But as of spring 2020, no regular episode has been close to dropping below 1.0.

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 much or any weaker in the relative landscape than it was over a decade ago. The end is not in immediate sight right now.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

1Summer 2000Wednesday 8:0012.47
2Spring 2001Thursday 8:0012.39-1%9.715.9detail
4Spring 20028.66-30%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 20162.02-11%1.52.2detailB
33Fall 20161.83-13%1.42.3detailB+
34Spring 20171.71-15%1.41.9detail
35Fall 20171.71-7%1.21.9detailA-
36Spring 20181.58-8%0.91.8detailB-
37Fall 20181.49-12%1.01.7detailB+
38Spring 20191.48-6%0.91.6detailA-
39Fall 20191.21-19%0.91.4detailB-
40Spring 20201.48+0%1.31.7detailA-
41Fall 20210.95
42Spring 20220.84
43Fall 20220.72-24%0.60.8detailB-
44Spring 20230.70-16%0.70.8detailB+

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

1Summer 2000260mega(sum)1.11
2Spring 2001258megahit1.10-1%202330247330
32001-02198big hit0.84
4Spring 2002201megahit0.86-22%174242212242
5Fall 2002197big hit0.840%160226220226
6Spring 2003177big hit0.75-12%140213208204
7Fall 2003199big hit0.85+1%172239207239
8Spring 2004206megahit0.88+16%155261219246
9Fall 2004179big hit0.76-10%147192192184
10Spring 2005185big hit0.79-10%160224224192
11Fall 2005162big hit0.69-9%140190163190
12Spring 2006143hit0.61-23%113172172153
13Fall 2006145hit0.62-11%114173173151
14Spring 2007123solid0.53-14%109151151122
15Fall 2007143hit0.61-1%136157151157
16Spring 2008126hit0.54+2%115145145133
17Fall 2008139hit0.59-2%126150150146
18Spring 2009130hit0.55+3%116150146140
19Fall 2009137hit0.58-2%121156128156
20Spring 2010139hit0.59+7%121160160149
21Fall 2010145hit0.62+6%126161157161
22Spring 2011129hit0.55-7%122157126157
23Fall 2011142hit0.60-2%131169144169
24Spring 2012120solid0.51-7%97135131123
25Fall 2012136hit0.58-4%109152152133
26Spring 2013122solid0.52+2%104138114128
27Fall 2013131hit0.56-4%101143138138
28Spring 2014127hit0.54+4%101138127138
29Fall 2014138hit0.59+5%107167167143
30Spring 2015134hit0.57+6%107149143137
31Fall 2015145hit0.62+5%117169169151
32Spring 2016138hit0.59+3%104153134145
33Fall 2016150big hit0.64+4%110188188159
34Spring 2017140hit0.60+1%110156139156
35Fall 2017156big hit0.66+4%113171161171
36Spring 2018144hit0.62+3%78160156132
37Fall 2018157big hit0.67+1%107176176159
38Spring 2019156big hit0.66+8%100170170158
39Fall 2019147hit0.63-6%105170155149
40Spring 2020181big hit0.77+16%161204161173
41Fall 2021187big hit0.80
42Spring 2022164big hit0.70
43Fall 2022169big hit0.72-10%145188185167
44Spring 2023165big hit0.70+1%155183155167

The War of 18-49 chronicles the ratings history of veteran primetime series. For more, see the Index.


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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