Friday, December 31, 2010

Midseason Matchups 2011, Friday


Winter: Supernanny (ABC) vs. The Defenders (CBS, 2/4) vs. Who Do You Think You Are? (NBC, 2/4) vs. Kitchen Nightmares (Fox, 1/21) vs. Smallville (The CW)

Spring: Supernanny (ABC) vs. Chaos (CBS, 4/1) vs. Who Do You Think You Are? (NBC) vs. Kitchen Nightmares (Fox) vs. Smallville (The CW)

Cable: WWE Smackdown! (Syfy)

Notes: Nightmares has aired on Friday before and figures to do decent business by the standards of the night, probably even better than lead-out Fringe. The ABC and NBC reality shows won't do much, and maybe Smallville will build as it nears the end of its decade-long run. The question mark is whether The Defenders can make the Friday transition respectably. It's tough to feel good about it.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Midseason Matchups 2011, Thursday


Winter: Wipeout (ABC, 1/6) vs. The Big Bang Theory/$#*! My Dad Says (CBS) vs. Community/PERFECT COUPLES (NBC, 1/20) vs. American Idol (Fox, 1/20) vs. The Vampire Diaries (The CW)

Spring: TBA (ABC) vs. The Big Bang Theory/Rules of Engagement (CBS, 2/24) vs. Community/Perfect Couples (NBC) vs. American Idol (Fox) vs. The Vampire Diaries (The CW)

Notes: Idol will sort of take over the role that Survivor had for so long in this hour, the reality show that dominates a field of (mostly) scripted TV. It'll be a real test for The Big Bang Theory, but I feel it should hold up as well as Modern Family did last year. (Modern became the first regularly-scheduled show in years to frequently break a 4.0 demo against Idol competition.)

The Top 10 TV Ratings Moments of 2010, 5 to 1

Back with the top half of the top 10 TV ratings moments of 2010. The first half went up yesterday.

Let the controversy begin...! If there's any particularly notable ratings result I missed, let me know. I'm open to there being a truly cataclysmic event that I forgot about. Maybe if I do this next year, I'll have a nice archive of Five-Spots to look back on so I won't miss anything big. Here goes:

5. The Walking Dead premiere (October 31) - I talked about shattering the network's glass ceiling with Hot in Cleveland yesterday, and The Walking Dead did it in an even bigger way for AMC. Its 2.7 A18-49 premiere on Halloween night was triple the highest rating ever for either of AMC's Emmy-laden originals Mad Men and Breaking Bad. Perhaps even more amazing was that it held almost all of that number in subsequent weeks, then actually grew as high as a 3.0 for the finale.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Midseason Matchups 2011, Wednesday


Winter: The Middle/Better with You (ABC) vs. LIVE TO DANCE (CBS, 1/5) vs. Minute to Win It  (NBC, 1/5) vs. American Idol (Fox, 1/19) vs. America's Next Top Model (The CW, 2/23)

Spring: The Middle/Better with You (ABC) vs. Survivor (CBS, 2/16) vs. Minute to Win It (NBC) vs. American Idol (Fox) vs. America's Next Top Model (The CW)

Notes: Three years ago, there was a Drew Carey game show called Power of 10 that I really liked and that served as Carey's audition for the Price is Right job. It had an OK run in summer 2007, then CBS scheduled it in this hour in midseason 2008, where it got absolutely crushed against a reality gauntlet of Idol, Deal or No Deal, Wife Swap, and Top Model and was never seen again. If I were a fan of NBC's Minute to Win It, I think I'd be similarly worried. That show is a bit more established than Power of 10 was, but it's still one reality-heavy hour.

The Top 10 TV Ratings Moments of 2010, 10 to 6

I don't really like the practice of making top 10 best TV lists at the end of the calendar year, since most broadcast shows are still in the middle of their seasons. So I'll hold off on the creative side till the summer (and perhaps just post my 2009-10 top ten post, which is missing a lot of commentary, at some point in the future).

Since I'm mostly about ratings around here, I thought I'd take the year-end top 10 idea in a different direction: what were the ten most memorable/interesting/game-changing moments in the world of TV ratings? OK, all ten moments don't fit all three of those adjectives... but I think they all fit at least one really well! 10 thru 6 right now, the rest tomorrow!

10. Big Bang's Thursday debut (September 23) - The ballsiest move of upfront week 2010 was CBS moving TV's #1 scripted show of 2009-10 by placing The Big Bang Theory in the Thursday leadoff slot. On premiere night, it looked like the show may not miss a beat, as its 4.9 demo was actually up year-to-year from its 2009 premiere in the "cushier" Monday slot. Though Big Bang has dropped into the low 4s since then, that still makes the move a resounding success. Next step: rejuvenating the rest of Thursday.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Midseason Matchups 2011, Tuesday


Winter: No Ordinary Family (ABC) vs. NCIS (CBS) vs. The Biggest Loser (NBC) vs. Glee (Fox) vs. One Tree Hill (The CW)

Spring: (projected) No Ordinary Family (ABC) vs. NCIS (CBS) vs. The Biggest Loser (NBC) vs. Glee (Fox) vs. One Tree Hill (The CW)

Notes: This hour will look a lot like it did in the fall, but an important note for both this and the 9:00 hour is that we don't know for sure where ABC will put the DWTS results show. If anything, the move of American Idol to Wednesday/Thursday might give the net even more incentive to lead off the night with the results show. Then again, giving the best possible lead-in to Body of Proof might take top priority. For now, I'm lining it up the way they had it in the fall, but it's in pencil.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Midseason Matchups 2011, Monday


Winter: The Bachelor (ABC, 1/3) vs. How I Met Your Mother/Rules of Engagement (CBS) vs. Chuck (NBC) vs. House (Fox) vs. 90210 (CW)

Spring: Dancing with the Stars (ABC, 3/21) vs. How I Met Your Mother/MAD LOVE (CBS, 2/21) vs. Chuck (NBC) vs. House (Fox) vs. 90210 (CW)

Cable: Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family, 1/3)

Notes: This is one of primetime's most stable hours, but keep an eye on 90210. Not that it's had a particularly strong ratings season anyway (0.95 A18-49, 1.85 W18-34 averages to date), but in the winter it gets hit with the women 18-34 double-whammie of The Bachelor and Pretty Little Liars (which, by the second half of its initial run, was usually doing slightly better than 90210 has this season). Could get even uglier.

Scheduling Five-Spot, WE 12/26/10 - CBS Midseason: Mad Love, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, The Defenders, Chaos, Blue Bloods

I decided to make this whole Five-Spot all about the only really significant news of the last week, CBS' midseason announcement. The only other notable developments were FX skedding the return of Justified for Wednesday, February 9 and a snowstorm moving NBC's Sunday Night Football game to Tuesday, making it the first Tuesday NFL game since 1946. It will be nationally televised.

Not sure about how the Five-Spots will be going down the next couple weeks with such a dearth of interesting TV and TV ratings running around this time of year. I might do a couple "extra" things this week and then take the week ending January 2 off completely. We'll see.

Here's your Scheduling Five-Spot for the week ending December 26, 2010:

Mad Love - Many had pegged CBS' new midseason comedy as bound for Thursday night at 8:30 to relieve the could-be-better $#*! My Dad Says, but instead it goes to Monday at 8:30 for what seems like a more natural thematic pairing with How I Met Your Mother. Even if it's a pairing that makes sense, we may not have seen this particular piece of scheduling if not for the fact that Fox moved American Idol into that Thursday 8:00 hour, making it much more precarious to try to launch a new comedy.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The War of 18-49, 2010-11 Battlegrounds


The War of 18-49, 2009-10 Battlegrounds


The War of 18-49, 2008-09 Battlegrounds


The War of 18-49, 2007-08 Battlegrounds


The War of 18-49, 2006-07 Battlegrounds


The War of 18-49, 2005-06 Battlegrounds


The War of 18-49, 2004-05 Battlegrounds


The War of 18-49, 2003-04 Battlegrounds


The War of 18-49, 2002-03 Battlegrounds


The War of 18-49, 2001-02 Battlegrounds


The War of 18-49, 2000-01 Battlegrounds


The War of 18-49, 1999-2000 Battlegrounds


Thursday, December 23, 2010

The War of 18-49, Everybody Hates Chris


Why post this on Thursday? Everybody Hates Chris aired on four different nights during its four season run. Its highest-rated by far was the first one, on Thursday.

See (who saw) how it all began: The premiere of Everybody Hates Chris on 9/22/05 was the last of the really world-beating premieres for the "netlets," UPN and the WB, before their merge a year later. At 7.78 million viewers and a 3.2/9 among adults 18-49, it was the most-watched comedy episode in the history of the net. It plunged 25% to a 2.4 demo in week two, then another couple ticks to a 2.2, then rose back to a 2.5 in week four.

The best of times: Those first four weeks remain the four strongest demo performances in the history of the show. It continued hitting 2.0+ as late as episode 9 and still frequently finished in the upper half of the 1's as late as March 2006.

The worst of times: The weakest season of Chris by average was the final one, but that's mostly because the show still did pretty respectably early in season 3. Its weakest run of episodes was definitely in the second half of the third season, when it had an extremely tough time doing much of anything in the Sunday lead-off spot for the last hurrah of the CDub's two-hour comedy block. Even though it was one of the very few scripted shows to actually complete a full 22-episode season of TV during the WGA strike-hindered 2007-08 season, it still took a four-month hiatus along with the other comedies and was DOA when it came back. It got as low as a mere 0.4 demo on 4/6/08, 4/20/08, and 5/4/08. So bad was the performance of it and the other comedies that the network actually stopped programming Sundays in a traditional sense. And a year later, they stopped programming the night altogether!

Then vs. now: Like several other CW shows, including multiple shows I've covered on the War, Everybody Hates Chris was only in part (and maybe even only in small part) axed because of its adults 18-49 numbers. In the end, it and the other comedies didn't hit that demographic sweet spot of women 18-34 that the CW has seemingly been so obsessed with chasing, so it got moved to Friday (alongside a third season of The Game) in what was clearly the first step of a phasing out of the situation comedy genre. Its Friday run was arguably a fairly pleasant surprise ratings-wise, noticeably up from those 0.4 and 0.5 depths it so often hit late in season 3, but it didn't really matter. And Smallville has gone on to significantly improve on those comedies in the Friday 8:00 timeslot.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
12005-06Thursday 8:001.801.03.2

22006-07CW, Sun 8:00, Mon 8:001.15-36%0.91.4

32007-08Mon 8:00, Sun 8:000.71-39%0.41.1

42008-09Friday 8:000.64-10%0.50.8

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
12005-06 44 solid(CW)0.75 25 79 79 32
22006-07 31 marginal(CW)0.52 -31% 24 37 24 27
32007-08 21 flop0.36 -30% 12 33 30 15
42008-09 21 solid(CWFri)0.36 -1% 17 27 27 23

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

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

War of 18-49 Update, Survivor (fall 2010)

Let's take a look at the fall 2010 season (the twenty-first overall) of Survivor on CBS.

Fall 2010 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 3.2/3.68/4.1

Rating the Ratings: This was the lowest-rated season of Survivor ever, but not by much. It's down a mere 5% from the fall 2009 season (the show's previous weakest) and just 6% from the impressive Heroes vs. Villains campaign in the spring. The 4.1 for the season finale was also the lowest in the history of the show, but most recent finales have been in the low 4's. Once again, nothing to be concerned about. Usually I'd dole out about a B for a low single-digits drop (see The Amazing Race), but I'm knocking this one up a notch because the show took that small drop while moving nights, and its raw numbers are also a bit stronger than the Race. Overall, the show made the transition to Wednesday in fine form. Grade: B+.

Here's the now updated War of 18-49 post for Survivor.

Ratings Five-Spot, WE 12/19/10 - Pawn Stars, Hell's Kitchen, Psych/Burn Notice/Leverage, Larry King Live, Perfect Couples

Here's your Ratings Five-Spot for the week ending December 19, 2010:

Pawn Stars - You don't see a ton of series highs as things slow down in mid-December except for the odd fall finale, but I've gotta give a nod to one of my favorite reality shows, which tied a series high with a whooping 2.5 demo last Monday and hit a series high in total viewers with 6.38 million. That put the History show ahead of everything on the cable top 25 last week not named Monday Night Football. This show can really score at any time of the year; its other 2.5 demos came on 3/8/10 and 7/5/10.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The War of 18-49, Boston Legal


Why post this on Tuesday? Three of Boston Legal's five seasons aired on Tuesdays. Only the first (Sunday) and last (Monday) didn't.

See (who saw) how it all began: Boston Legal began as the first of what would eventually be three regularly-scheduled lead-outs of Desperate Housewives to run 5+ seasons. It premiered on the same night that the Housewives shocked the world with a massive 8.9 demo, and Boston Legal held 54% of that demo in premiering to a 4.8. It'd stay at a 4.8 the next week and spend its first few episodes in the upper 4's. That seems like an impressive hold, but lead-in Desperate Housewives was on the upswing big-time while Legal was holding steady.

Opinion Five-Spot, WE 12/19/10 - Burn Notice, Survivor, The Next Survivor, Million Dollar Money Drop, Perfect Couples

Here's my Five-Spot of TV opinions for the week ending December 19, 2010 (or more like December 20):

Burn Notice - The two episodes that made up the finale on Thursday were both good, as a lot of villains of Burn Notice past came back to haunt Michael. And I have to say that I'm quite intrigued by the way the episode ended, with Michael Westen seemingly on his way back into the spy game. You'd think this won't be a long-term thing (or at least not a full-time thing) because they'd drop the other characters, but for now I'm still interested to see where it goes. And Dylan Baker is a great supporting actor get for the show.

Monday, December 20, 2010

War of 18-49 Update, The Biggest Loser (fall 2010)

Let's take a look at the fall 2010 season (the tenth overall) of The Biggest Loser on NBC.

Fall 2010 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 2.3/2.73/4.0

Rating the Ratings: Start with the good news: this season of The Biggest Loser certainly ended on a high note. After spending most of the season hovering around a 2.5 demo, it moved to 9pm (away from heavy competition like Glee and Dancing with the Stars) and posted a 2.9, 3.1, and 4.0 in its final three weeks. Did that save an otherwise awful season?  Not really. Despite the rally, the 2.9 and 3.1 were still more than 15% behind their corresponding eps in the fall 2009 season, and the 4.0 was still 20% behind last fall's 5.0 finale. Overall, the season finished down a whooping 27% from last fall and was a little over 15% lower than the show's weakest previous season (fall 2008). It was really the first major downturn for an otherwise fairly consistent show, and so it still deserves a bad grade. But I'll give it a little better one than the season as a whole likely deserves because of its late rally. Grade: D+.

Here's the now updated War of 18-49 post for The Biggest Loser.

Scheduling Five-Spot, WE 12/19/10 - Hellcats, Running Wilde, Perfect Couples, Stargate Universe, The Good Guys

Here's your Scheduling Five-Spot for the week ending December 19, 2010:

CW Midseason - There isn't a whole lot of change going on at the CDub in midseason, but they will be moving drama newbie Hellcats from Wednesday to Tuesday, where it'll most likely have a weaker lead-in in One Tree Hill, but at least it doesn't have to go up against two-hour Idols on Wednesday. Meanwhile, reality newbie Shedding for the Wedding becomes the latest in a very long line of reality newbies to inherit the post-Top Model slot. Pretty much all the others have failed.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

War of 18-49 Update, The Apprentice (fall 2010)

Let's take a look at the fall 2010 season (the show's tenth overall and seventh non-celebrity season) of The Apprentice on NBC.

Fall 2010 adults 18-49 high/average/low: 0.9/1.34/1.6

Rating the Ratings: I'm editing this out of the official War of 18-49 post, but I gotta preserve it somewhere, so I'll just remind us all once more that during the summer I prophetically asked, "But have we forgotten just how rapidly this show went down the tubes?" Then I went on to predict in a later post that this supposedly recession-friendly version would do pretty decently. Apparently I should've gone with my first instinct. This season was an embarrassment from the word go, down more than 50% from any previous season of the show, including the most recent celebrity season in early 2010 and the most recent "original recipe" season in early 2007. This show which once pulled a thirteen point six in the demo less than six years ago actually dropped below a 1.0 for a regular elimination ep on Thanksgiving night. Disaster. I actually gave some very brief consideration to upping this grade to a D- because of the "big" spike to a 1.6 for the finale, but then I remembered it also had a much larger than usual lead-in with The Office airing a one-hour episode. Since I'm not clever enough to be able to resist the easy joke, I gotta say it: original recipe Apprentice, y'fired. Grade: F.

Here's the now updated War of 18-49 post for The Apprentice.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

War of 18-49 Update, The Amazing Race (fall 2010)

Let's take a look at the fall 2010 season (the seventeenth overall) of The Amazing Race on CBS.

Fall 2010 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 2.6/3.32/3.8

Rating the Ratings: As usual, the fall ratings for the Race are a bit of an up-and-down affair on a week-to-week basis due to the wackiness of the football overruns. But at the end of the day, after spending the early part of the season up year-to-year, the show settled into the low 3's and then spiked to a 3.7 for Sunday's finale. That left the season average at a 3.32, down 2% from last fall's version but still the second-highest cycle by average in the last five. -2% is a fine number these days, and while the show's still not one of its strong network's standouts, it's the very definition of a solid player. Grade: B.

Here's the now updated War of 18-49 post for The Amazing Race.

Ratings Five-Spot, WE 12/12/10 - The Sing-Off, American Country Awards, Eureka/Warehouse 13/Leverage, Sunday Night Football, Dexter

Here's your Ratings Five-Spot for the week ending December 12, 2010:

The Sing-Off - In December 2009, the NBC holiday reality series was in "did nicely for December filler; let's bring it back next December" territory. This year, the show has taken the next step into "stronger than almost everything on our schedule" territory, including a 3.3 demo on Monday of the current week. That's gonna make it tough for NBC to resist upgrading it from the "filler" role, but most of the rest of the TV year is littered with singing and dancing competitions. We'll see just how lightly NBC treads.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

War of 18-49 Update, Dancing with the Stars (fall 2010)

Let's take a look at the fall 2010 season (the eleventh overall) of Dancing with the Stars on ABC.

Monday Fall 2010 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 4.0/4.33/5.1
Tuesday Fall 2010 adults 18-49 low/average high: 3.1/3.78/5.3

Rating the Ratings: Dancing has been up on a year-to-year basis pretty much throughout this fall season, though to be fair that fall 2009 season was by far the weakest in the history of the show. Even if you throw that season out, the show's about even with the fall cycle of two years ago, and in primetime these days that's an accomplishment. The Tuesday average was the show's best since fall 2008, and the finale number was the best since 2007. Though last spring's Monday average was higher, this fall's Monday performance was more consistent; the spring season started at a massive 6.4 and declined almost every week, while the fall stayed in the low 4's pretty much starting in the third week. Overall, another stout season turned in by this franchise. Grade: A-.

Here's the now updated War of 18-49 post for Dancing with the Stars.

Opinion Five-Spot, WE 12/12/10 - Men of a Certain Age, Glee, Community, The Office, Desperate Housewives

Here's a Five-Spot of TV opinions for the week ending December 12, 2010:

Men of a Certain Age - I'm not quite "of a certain age," but this is still one of the most enjoyable shows I watch, and I'm happy to have it back for one more run (probably the last run based on its ratings). Love the show's usually dry humor. It looked like they might be backpedaling on some of the things set up in last season's finale, but I'm happy they ultimately kept Terry working for Owen. I think that's got potential to make Bakula's character more interesting this season. (Haven't seen last night's ep 2 yet.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

The War of 18-49, Deal or No Deal


Why Monday? Though Deal or No Deal's nearly 200 episodes were scheduled on literally almost every night of the week, the show always seemed to be at its strongest on Monday night. And Monday was the only night on which it was regularly scheduled during each of its four seasons on the air.

Scheduling Five-Spot, WE 12/12/10 - Terriers, ABC 3-Hour Comedy, Lie to Me, The Hasselhoffs, The Closer

Man, why couldn't we have had some of this stuff a couple weeks back when even finding one or two good tidbits was a stretch? Left out of this edition: NBC's upcoming and probably doomed Love Bites sees its order trimmed, The Whole Truth is yanked from the schedule (again), and same with Running Wilde. On to the top 5!  Here's your Scheduling Five-Spot for the week ending December 12, 2010:

Terriers Canceled - The FX drama, one of an absolute bevy of shows that I managed to stop watching right before it supposedly got amazingly good, will not be returning for a second season. One of the questions I always ask about a show's ratings is, "What could a replacement reasonably do?" It's hard to imagine a replacement drama doing much worse than the 0.28 demo average that Terriers posted, especially when fellow fall FX show Sons of Anarchy often did 5+ times as well.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Network Season Averages in the 2000s

This is another thing, like my recent cable syndication deals list, that seems like it should've been done somewhere already. It maybe/probably has and I just don't know about it. Anyway, here's my version. These are the adults 18-49 averages for each of the big four broadcast networks across the last ten regular seasons.

These averages include sporting events like the Olympics and Super Bowl which typically have noticeable effects on the averages. Ideally I'd love to get averages of just entertainment programming, but this is all I could find for now.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

War of 18-49 Update, America's Next Top Model (fall 2010)

Let's take a look at the fall 2010 cycle (the fifteenth overall) of America's Next Top Model on the CW.

Fall 2010 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 1.1/1.30/1.5.

Rating the Ratings: C+. Top Model is still one of the CW's strongest shows, but the drops continue; it's down 14% from the 1.51 average posted in both the fall 2009 and spring 2010 cycles. That's not a bad drop for a show of this age, and it's the show's smallest year-to-year percentage drop in the fall since 2007.  It's been clearly eclipsed by sophomore The Vampire Diaries for the top spot on the CW totem pole; even that 1.5 high for the season finale trails the vast majority of TVD episodes to date this season. But I suppose it's good news for the CW that their top program is finally something actually developed in the CW era.

Here's the now updated War of 18-49 post for Top Model.

Ratings Five-Spot, WE 12/5/10 - Holiday Specials, Sons of Anarchy/Terriers, Heat in Cleveland, The Walking Dead, Men of a Certain Age

Here's your Five-Spot of TV ratings news for the week ending December 5, 2010:

Holiday Specials - This is mostly a cable edition of the Ratings Five-Spot, as it was a fairly boring week in broadcast ratings. But of note were all the holiday specials, and here's a quick A18-49 ratings rundown: CMA Country Christmas (ABC) 1.4, How The Grinch Stole Christmas (ABC) 2.2, Shrek the Halls (ABC) 2.4, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (CBS) 3.9, Xmas at Rockefeller Center (NBC) 1.9, Santa Claus is Comin' To Town (ABC) 2.3. Might list a few of the current week's in next week's edition.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The War of 18-49, The Unit


Why post this on Tuesday? Military drama The Unit aired its first three seasons on the night, then moved to Sunday for its final season.

See (who saw) how it all began: The Unit was a midseason replacement for CBS during the 2005-06 season, but its premiere was pretty strong: 18.50 million viewers and a 5.1/12 demo on March 3, 2006. It dropped just 4% to a 4.9 demo in week two, but from there most of its spring 2006 episodes would rate in the upper 3's and low 4's.

Opinion Five-Spot, WE 12/5/10 - Survivor, Psych, Fringe, The Office

Here's my Opinion Five-Spot for the week ending December 5, 2010:

Survivor - My goal was to not get too redundant with these, but here's Survivor for the fourth time in five Opinion Five-Spots. How can I not talk about DoubleQuitGate? Plenty have voiced their distress that Na'Onka and Purple Kelly are still on the jury after quitting, but what amazed me was how nobody on the show thought about the quitting in terms of alliances or game dynamics. It was all about the morality of quitting. I guess it just goes to show how little actual gameplay there has been in this rather subpar season.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The War of 18-49, Prison Break


Why post this on Monday? 75 of Prison Break's 81 total hours aired on Monday. The only ones that didn't were the last six, which aired on Fridays in 2009. The 2017 revival aired on Tuesday at 9/8c.

See (who saw) how it all began: In the first couple seasons, Prison Break was one of those shows that Fox would premiere several weeks early to make up for the inevitable baseball preemptions. Prison Break premiered on 8/29/05 to a fairly impressive 10.51 million viewers and a 4.6/12 in adults 18-49. It dropped to a 3.9 in week two but bounced right back up to a 4.5 demo in week three. The start of the traditional regular season hurt the show a bit initially, but it would creep back into the low 4's for much of the rest of season 1.

The best of times: Season 1 was when the show was at its strongest, particularly the 11/28/05 fall finale which scored 12.18 million viewers and a 5.5/12 demo. That number stood more than a half point ahead of any other airing, and the show had its five highest ratings ever in the fall half of that first season. But although I'd always heard that season 1 was the only time when the show was really any good, the drops were not realized immediately. Season 2 was down less than 10% and still a fairly impressively-rated season.

The worst of times: Even season 3 did all right for Prison Break, with almost every single episode falling in the low 3's. But by early season 4, it was clear the show was on its way out. Season 4 premiered to a still passable 2.7 but it dropped all the way to a 2.1 just four weeks later and spent most of the rest of its fall run at either a 2.1 or 2.2.  Then came the move to Friday, where it premiered in April 2009 to just a 1.2 demo and got as low as a 0.9 on 5/8/09. It hit new raw lows in the revival eight years later, but overall that short fifth season was stronger on a historical-adjusted basis than what Prison Break had been doing at the end of its original run.

Then vs. now: Prison Break was never really the massive hit in season 1 that I always sort of thought it was, and the aforementioned fall 2005 number was probably the only time it really even showed promise of becoming that. But it really epitomized what people talk about when they talk about a show having a 'core audience.' Within each of the last three seasons, you could count on the show settling at about the same rating almost every single week; look at how small the difference is between the season low and high in season 3, for example. But as with most serialized dramas, that core got smaller and smaller each season, and its significant drops in the opening weeks of season 4 finally put it below the threshold of acceptability. It was probably done for even if it hadn't completely bombed in its spring 2009 move to Friday.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

1Summer 2005-06Mon 8:00, Mon 9:
22006-07Monday 8:003.78-9%3.34.2detail
42008-09Monday 9:001.95-38%0.92.7detail
5Spring 2017Tuesday 9:000.960.71.5detailB+

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

1Summer 2005-06103hit(sum)1.2684135113111
5Spring 201778marginal0.965712212273


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

The War of 18-49 Returns with All New Episodes!

Since December is a bit of a slow time in the TV season, I thought I'd help fill the gap and "order up" a few new midseason editions of The War of 18-49, my series that looks at the ratings history of veteran programs. There were a handful of eligible regular season shows that I either forgot about or didn't get around to last summer, and this seems like a good time to knock them out. The original plan was six "all new" posts and six "update" posts, in which I add the ratings for a recently completed season and do a brief ratings season-in-review. Sadly, I couldn't find enough info on one of those all new shows (King of the Hill) to really feel good about doing it, so there will only be five all new ones for now. But one for each network...!

Scheduling Five-Spot, WE 12/5/10 - The Biggest Loser, Archer/Lights Out, Body of Proof, Dexter, Chase

Here's your Five-Spot of TV scheduling news for the week ending December 5, 2010:

The Biggest Loser Moves to 9/8c - This might not be "news" for this week, more likely back when the listings came out, but the reality show aired at 9/8c on Tuesday this week and will the next two weeks (led into by game show Minute to Win It). The show has taken a beating against DWTS and Glee all season, but things finally turned around on Tuesday as it got away from both and posted a 2.9 demo, tying the season high set for its premiere. That's way up from recent numbers which have oft been south of 2.5.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

#FringeFriday - Can it work?

The night that Fox released their midseason schedule, I did a big post on all of their moves in recent years that had led to the Monday to Thursday schedule, then at the end I threw in an offhand remark that I thought Fringe was dead on Friday night. I'll reiterate that I have loved this season and that I hope it isn't the case, but I thought I'd illuminate a little bit of the math I'm looking at and that this show will have to defy if it does indeed make it into another season.

The two issues here are What must Fringe rate? and What will Fringe rate? A recent Renew/Cancel index at TVByTheNumbers probably does as good a job with the first question as anyone could without knowing more of the money particulars, so I'll just briefly address that point and then move onto the other one, since I by no means "hesitate to predict future ratings." ;-)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ratings Five-Spot, WE 11/28/10: DWTS, Skating with the Stars, Mike & Molly, Glee, Modern Family

Here's your TV Ratings Five-Spot for the week ending November 28, 2010:

Dancing with the Stars - The ABC competition reality program has had a very strong cycle throughout and ended on a particularly high note, with both the final Monday performance show and the two-hour Tuesday finale up 23% year-to-year. The 5.3 for the finale was the show's highest finale number since fall 2007. The year-to-year momentum will be tough to maintain this spring, since the fall cycle in 2009 was relatively weak, but it's certainly possible. Especially if the Lindsay Lohan rumors come to fruition.

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