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.

See (who saw) how it all began: Deal or No Deal began as one of those shows that gets a weeklong run on every night of the week to fill up time during the holiday rerun season. Its premiere on 12/19/05 garnered 11.6 million viewers and a 3.9 rating in adults 18-49. That number rose on the next two nights to a 4.6 and then a 4.9, then declined to a 4.6 and 3.6 for the last two nights of the five-night tryout.

The best of times: The disclaimer for this post is that while the averages below are simply averages of every airing as in all the other War of 18-49 posts, in DOND's case that means I'm usually combining a pretty wide variety of different timeslot situations. When you consider, for example, that the show actually ran originals in the Sunday 7pm hour for several weeks during the 2006-07 season, the season highs might actually be more instructive than the averages. So the show's highest points were indeed in the first season, for a 5.9 demo on 4/3/06, but the show remained capable of occasionally putting up 5.0+ demos as late as February of 2008, when the declining show suddenly became a hugely potent option again during the dog days of the WGA strike.

The worst of times: By the fall of 2008, it was clear that this show's days as a force in primetime were pretty much over. A couple late summer 2008 airings were still north of 2.5 in the demo, but by the time the full-fledged broadcast competition stepped in, the show was struggling to even break a 2.0. While the show's lowest rating was a 0.9 demo on Halloween night in 2008, its most embarrassing run of episodes was probably when it came back for a few weeks in May 2009 and quietly posted 1.2, 1.1, 1.2, and 1.5 in its four hours. The show was never seen again in primetime after that.

Then vs. now: What everyone always says about this show is that it was badly over-exposed, like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? from earlier in the decade. It's hard to argue, considering it aired almost 200 episodes in about three calendar years. But while I'm sort of getting into editorializing here, I never felt like this was a long term kind of show. I just didn't really buy that people were going to sit around for years watching a game show with no real skill element and a fairly flimsy play-along aspect. Maybe we could still be talking about the show in late 2010, airing once a week on NBC and bringing home a solid 2.5 demo or so. Or maybe it was really a "strike while the fire's hot" situation, and NBC struck and struck a lot. We'll never know for sure, though it only lasted a couple seasons in first-run syndication as well.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
12005-065-night, then M/W/F4.432.95.9

22006-07Mon, Wed, Thu, Sun3.69-17%1.85.5

32007-08Mon, Wed, Fri2.79-24%1.65.2

42008-09Mon, Fri1.68-40%0.92.8

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
12005-06 109 solid1.84 71 145 96 138
22006-07 98 marginal1.65 -10% 48 146 133 82
32007-08 84 marginal1.42 -14% 48 157 94 48
42008-09 56 flop0.94 -34% 30 93 93 50

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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