Wednesday, December 29, 2010

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.

9. Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution premiere (March 26) - If there were a lot of other nerds like me who created top 10 TV ratings moments lists, this oddity would be my token under-the-radar pick. I just remember being stunned that a reality show could premiere to a 2.6 on typically dead Friday night, five days after a Sunday preview got just a 2.2! For comparison, scripted entry Blue Bloods, widely considered a Friday success, premiered to a 2.2 in September. Revolution lost half that 2.6 by the end but got renewed.

8. Glee's "Britney/Brittany" (September 28) - We'll almost certainly look back at this Britney Spears guest turn in the second episode of Glee's second season as the peak of the Gleenomenon unless it gets a much bigger long-term bounce from the upcoming post-Super Bowl airing than most are expecting. Its 5.9 A18-49 rating is likely to make it the 2010-11 season's highest-rated regularly-scheduled scripted episode (and it'll probably trail only the post-Super Bowl Glee among all scripted eps).

7. Hot in Cleveland premiere (June 16) - Maybe they weren't nearly as heavily viewed as the above Big Bang and Glee eps, but I have a bit of a soft spot for those moments when a show shatters its network's glass ceiling. Hot in Cleveland did just that, with its 4.75 million viewers and 1.2 A18-49 taking originals on TV Land into a whole new stratosphere. Future eps averaged less than two-thirds of those numbers, but this looks like a big network tentpole going forward. It'll lead into newbie Retired at 35 this winter.

6. LeBron's Heat debut (October 26) - The Miami Threet's impact on NBA TV ratings isn't fully known yet, and we won't really know the extent until they're in the playoffs, if not the Finals. Till then, we just have to settle for the fact that LeBron's debut against the Celtics (7.35 million viewers, 3.3 A18-49) was the highest-rated NBA regular season cable game ever. He followed it up with 7.1 million and a 3.2 demo for his return to Cleveland several weeks later.

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