Thursday, May 26, 2011

The War of 18-49, So You Think You Can Dance


Scheduling history: Almost every SYTYCD season in the early years aired on Wednesday and Thursday. The only exceptions were season one (Wednesday only) and the show's only regular season campaign in fall 2009 (Tuesday/Wednesday). But it was cut to one night starting in 2012, and it's been a different night each year: Thursday in 2012, Tuesday in 2013, Wednesday in 2014 and Monday starting in 2015.

See (who saw) how it all began: So You Think You Can Dance got a big premiere sampling, garnering 10.30 million viewers and a 4.6/15 among adults 18-49 for its two-hour premiere on 7/20/05. The demo number remains a series high to this day, and for most of the rest of the first season, it appeared those numbers were going to remain far ahead of any other airing; the show dropped an abnormally large 28% to a 3.3 demo in week two, then to a 3.0 in week three. It'd hover around a 3.0 for most of the rest of season 1.

The best of times: But while that 4.6 demo has still gone unmatched, the show had a pretty significant overall upswing in its second season, and it got pretty close to that 4.6 on several occasions in seasons two and three. Those were easily the show's two strongest overall seasons, as the show broke the 4.0 plateau on a dozen different occasions during those two seasons and just once (the aforementioned series premiere) in the other five seasons to date.

The worst of times: What really seems to have derailed this show was Fox's decision to run a regular-season edition. There were concerns when it was announced at the 2009 upfront that it'd get lost among the full-fledged broadcast competition, and that certainly happened. The show got as low as a 1.6 demo on 11/25/09 (Thanksgiving Eve) that season. But that could arguably have been shrugged off if the show made a nice recovery the next summer. Instead, SYTYCD didn't get back on track in the summer of 2010. The season only made insignificant gains from the summer edition and finished down by over 20% from the summer 2009 season, easily the biggest year-to-year drop the show's ever taken. It's since continued downhill, going as low as a 0.4 demo a half-dozen times in 2019.

Then vs. now: There were a couple reasons behind Fox's decision to bring SYTYCD into the regular season. The first was to take up real estate in a fairly soft development season, and the second was to provide a compatible lead-in to the only really promising thing to come out of their development, the dramedy Glee. I do have to admit that Glee became a substantial success for Fox, but it sure seems like the show's overexposure for that one year had a lot to do with the big drops the next summer. Fox cancelled the second night of SYTYCD after the summer 2011 season. The revamp didn't really slow down the show's bleeding, but the show kept ekeing out a spot on the summer sked. It finally had a somewhat promising trend in 2017, but the ratings are still low, so the fate is up in the air once more.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

1Summer 2005Wednesday 8:
2Summer 2006Thursday 8:003.723.24.4detail
Wed 8:00, Wed 9:003.74+18%2.84.4
3Summer 2007Thursday 8:003.68-1%3.24.3detail
Wednesday 8:003.47-7%2.94.4
4Summer 2008Thursday 8:003.12-15%2.13.6detail
Wednesday 8:003.26-6%3.03.7
5Summer 2009Thursday 8:003.07-2%2.33.6detail
Wednesday 8:003.04-7%2.63.5
6Fall 20092.431.62.8detail
Tuesday 8:002.332.12.6
7Summer 2010Thursday 8:002.43-21%1.83.3detail
Wednesday 8:002.37-22%2.03.0
8Summer 2011Thursday 8:002.18-10%1.63.3detailC
Wednesday 8:002.26-5%1.83.1
9Summer 20121.97-13%1.52.7detailC
10Summer 2013Tuesday 8:001.55-21%1.22.3detailD+
11Summer 2014Wednesday 8:001.25-20%0.91.7detailC-
12Summer 2015Monday 8:000.95-24%0.71.3detailD+
13Summer 20160.72-24%0.51.0detailC-
14Summer 20170.69-4%0.50.9detailB+
15Summer 20180.61-12%0.50.8detailB-
16Summer 2019Monday 9:000.47-23%0.40.7detailC-

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

1Summer 200578solid(sum)0.745611311374
2Summer 200692hit(sum)0.877910810681
3Summer 200798hit(sum)0.93+7%851149898
4Summer 200894hit(sum)0.90-3%63109106100
5Summer 2009102hit(sum)0.97+8%76120113116
6Fall 200986marginal0.8257999692
7Summer 201086solid(sum)0.82-15%6411710782
8Summer 201186solid(sum)0.82-1%6313013079
9Summer 201283solid(sum)0.79-6%6311410268
10Summer 201374solid(sum)0.70-11%571099066
11Summer 201466marg(sum)0.63-10%48908569
12Summer 201556marg(sum)0.54-15%42777748
13Summer 201649flop0.47-13%34696945
14Summer 201757marg(sum)0.54+15%44737344
15Summer 201856marg(sum)0.53-1%48716659
16Summer 201950marg(sum)0.47-11%41727245

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

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