Thursday, March 3, 2011

Encore! Which Shows/Genres Repeat the Best?


A lot of primetime shows aren't defined entirely by the ratings they get in first-run telecasts. It may not be much of a stretch to say they count as two different shows. The second show is a lot weaker than the first, but it's also a lot cheaper. And for some strong shows that repeat well, that second show (the repeats) may be stronger than a lot of other first-run stuff! This won't be terribly new to anyone who follows TV ratings on a daily basis, but I thought it'd be neat to have the numbers out there.

Which Genre Repeats Best?

Let's look at the top 10 shows by "repeat percentage," AKA what the repeats do in adults 18-49 as a percentage of the first-run numbers.

Show Net Avg R-Avg R-%
The Cleveland Show Fox 2.88 2.10 73%
Rules of Engagement CBS 3.09 2.12 69%
Better with You ABC 2.16 1.48 68%
The Middle ABC 2.59 1.74 67%
American Dad! Fox 2.47 1.63 66%
The Defenders CBS 1.93 1.27 66%
Raising Hope Fox 2.65 1.73 65%
The Simpsons Fox 3.57 2.30 64%
Two and a Half Men CBS 4.49 2.84 63%
How I Met Your Mother CBS 3.59 2.27 63%

So nine of the top ten are comedies, with the only hour-long program on the whole list (The Defenders) seeing its numbers skewed by its big first-run dip since its move to Friday. Take out The Defenders (which would be around 58% if you just compared its repeats to its Wednesday first-run) and #10 would be Family Guy (62%), leaving the entire top ten as comedies. This is definitely the genre that does the best in repeats, or at least has the potential to. But it's also the most variable genre, as there are some that fall much farther down the list (The Office is actually in the top ten in the other direction).

After that is the procedural drama. Most of these do in the 50s to low 60s:

Show Net Avg R-Avg R-%
CSI: NY CBS 1.76 1.09 62%
NCIS: Los Angeles CBS 3.45 2.10 61%
Blue Bloods CBS 1.81 1.10 61%
Law & Order: SVU NBC 2.58 1.53 59%
CSI CBS 3.06 1.77 58%
The Good Wife CBS 2.26 1.30 57%
Criminal Minds CBS 3.47 1.98 57%
The Mentalist CBS 2.97 1.66 56%
Hawaii Five-0 CBS 3.18 1.74 55%
NCIS CBS 4.07 2.21 54%
Detroit 1-8-7 ABC 1.59 0.83 53%
CSI: Miami CBS 2.46 1.27 52%
Castle ABC 2.52 1.15 46%
Bones Fox 2.86 1.22 43%
House Fox 3.75 1.44 38%

I don't want to get too much into case-by-case basis here, but shows like Castle and Bones would be closer if not for some weird numbers (namely Castle's two-hour 0.7 repeat in late December and Bones' first-run average being driven up by the post-Idol airings).

And the worst-repeating kind of scripted show by far is the non-crime drama. For a sampling, here's the bottom-ten by repeat percentage.

Show Net Avg R-Avg R-%
Grey's Anatomy ABC 4.22 1.20 28%
Desperate Housewives ABC 3.71 1.17 31%
Private Practice ABC 2.81 0.93 33%
Brothers & Sisters ABC 2.38 0.80 34%
Chuck NBC 1.86 0.66 36%
The Office NBC 3.74 1.33 36%
Glee Fox 4.73 1.70 36%
The Vampire Diaries CW 1.51 0.55 36%
Gossip Girl CW 0.91 0.33 37%
House Fox 3.75 1.44 38%

With the exception of The Office most of these are hourlong soaps or otherwise heavily buzz-driven dramas, and the audience simply doesn't show up for those in encores. That's why (except for on the CW, where they seem to be under the impression that they have no other choice) most of these don't get repeated much. An interesting exception is Glee, which does poorly percentage-wise but is so strong that the repeats still do pretty well by repeat standards for now. Most of the rest of the CW is in the 40s, knocking on the door of this top ten, but I think a lot of those have higher percentages simply because they're so weak in first run.

Repeat percentage breakdown
Comedies - most in the 60s, but many "buzzier" ones (like Modern Family, Big Bang and pretty much everything on NBC) are around 50 or lower
Procedural/crime dramas - almost all in the 50s or just outside
Soaps/other non-crime dramas - almost all in the 30s and 40s

The next couple months will provide us a lot more repeats to work with, so I may update this at season's end and see how it looks. But I have to say I was fairly surprised how consistently most of it lined up. A pretty good rule of thumb seems to be that "buzzier" shows are helped by that buzz in first run, but decidedly not in repeats.

I might throw unscripted into the end-of-season version of this, but that gets kinda wonky because so many of those are never repeated at all, while there are certain unscripted franchises for which the repeats are basically indistinguishable from the first-run.

Which Shows Repeat Best?

One last thing: let me get away from the percentage game and back to the point of the original paragraph. A lot of these shows are capable of operating almost like two separate shows in a sense because the repeats do so well. Here are the top ten repeaters in terms of raw numbers:

Show Net Avg R-Avg R-%
Two and a Half Men CBS 4.49 2.84 63%
Family Guy Fox 3.82 2.38 62%
The Simpsons Fox 3.57 2.30 64%
Modern Family ABC 4.56 2.28 50%
How I Met Your Mother CBS 3.59 2.27 63%
Mike & Molly CBS 3.65 2.23 61%
NCIS CBS 4.07 2.21 54%
The Big Bang Theory CBS 4.20 2.19 52%
Rules of Engagement CBS 3.09 2.12 69%
The Cleveland Show Fox 2.88 2.10 73%

Now, Two and a Half Men has seen its repeat numbers boosted a bit by airing amidst originals the last couple weeks, but its 2.84 repeat average is still pretty staggering, and ahead of quite a few fairly safe shows on the air these days in first-run! If you counted stuff like Family Guy and The Simpsons repeats as separate shows, they'd still be ahead of pretty much all the Fox shows on the bubble (Fringe, Lie to Me, Human Target, The Chicago Code). And heading a little farther down the list, some new NBC dramas have trouble even managing the 1.53 average of SVU repeats!

Disclaimer time! After some deliberation, I ended up mostly counting all repeats that air on the same day as the show in first-run, no matter what timeslot. There are a couple exceptions (like The Simpsons' airings at 7:00 on Sunday) but that's mostly how it works. Lemme know if you have any questions about what I counted. These numbers are lifted from my spreadsheet and so they include everything up through Wednesday, March 3. (The March 3 numbers are still based on preliminaries.)

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