Thursday, June 30, 2011

Spotted Ratings, Wednesday 6/22/11 & 6/29/11

  • Apparently The Voice is not exempt from the norm: not as many people are interested in reality TV results shows. The Wednesday airings on June 22 (3.3) and the finale on June 29 (3.5) were both much weaker than most recent Tuesday results (which were usually in the mid-4's).
  • But America's Got Talent (3.9 on 6/22, 4.0 on 6/29) is absolutely thriving in its one-hour Wednesday airings. The 4.0 marks the first time Got Talent has broken a 4.0 demo on Wednesday since season 1 back in 2006. Got Talent lead-out Love in the Wild (2.2) didn't start off too well last night, though. It dropped 45% of its lead-in and significantly trailed last week's timeslot occupant, a repeat of Got Talent from last week (which got a 2.9).
  • So You Think You Can Dance (1.9) dropped below the 2.0 threshold for the first time this season and just the third time in series history. It's now just a tick above its lowest summer rating ever.
Numbers from 6/19/11 through 6/25/11 based on FINAL adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted. Numbers starting on 6/26/11 based on PRELIMINARY adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Spotted Ratings, Tuesday 6/21/11 & 6/28/11

  • The one-hour America's Got Talent eps (3.4 on 6/21, 3.2 on 6/28) have been getting a little weaker lately but may benefit from a return to two-hour length starting next week.
  • The Voice (4.4 on 6/21, 4.4 on 6/28) is not exactly exploding to the finish but remains comfortably the highest-rated thing on TV nowadays. The finale is tonight (6/29).
  • While the Monday editions of MasterChef have been doing decently against less reality competition, the Tuesday ones (1.8 on 6/21, 1.7 on 6/28) have dropped off against Got Talent and Wipeout.
  • ABC premiered its all new Tuesday on June 21. Wipeout (1.7 on 6/21, 1.8 on 6/28) is off to a particularly slow start on Tuesday, 101 Ways to Leave a Game Show (1.9 on 6/21, 1.8 on 6/28) isn't doing anything great, but it deserves at least some kudos for building slightly on/maintaining its weaker-than-expected Wipeout lead-in thus far. And 10:00 scripted offering Combat Hospital (1.2 on 6/21, 1.1 on 6/28) is bringing up the rear with numbers fairly reminiscent of last summer's scripted flop Scoundrels.
Numbers from 6/19/11 through 6/25/11 based on FINAL adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted. Numbers starting on 6/26/11 based on PRELIMINARY adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

True Strength: Viewing Levels 102 - How TV Events Affect Viewing

Seemingly about 20 years ago, I looked at some of the basics of how many adults 18-49 watch TV during primetime. Ultimately, we want to look at how a program's rating is affected by the level of viewing. But before we look at how viewing affects ratings, we're gonna look at the reverse: how do ratings, specifically big events with really big ratings, affect viewing levels?*

Spotted Ratings, Monday 6/20/11 & 6/27/11

  •  The last two weeks of The Bachelorette (2.3 on 6/20, 2.5 on 6/27) didn't distinguish themselves, while Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition (2.0 on 6/20, highest-since-premiere 2.3 on 6/27) seems to be doing well enough in the post-Bachelorette slot to secure a renewal.
  • MasterChef (2.2) hit a season high on 6/20 but then came back to more normal levels with a 2.0 on 6/27.
  • The end is nearing for the Law & Order: LA burnoff run, and it's not doing anything special (1.3 on 6/20, 1.5 on 6/27). The finale airs in two weeks (7/11) after a break for the Fourth of July.
Numbers from 6/19/11 through 6/25/11 based on FINAL adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted. Numbers starting on 6/26/11 based on PRELIMINARY adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Spotted Ratings, Sunday 6/19/11 & 6/26/11

I didn't find the broadcast ratings interesting enough to write up while on vacation, so we'll be doing two-a-days throughout this week.

  • NBC's Miss USA 2011 (2.2) won the evening of June 19 and was way up from last year's 1.4, but that's mostly because of the later start time (9/8c this year vs. 7/6c last year). The only other original (aside from NBC US Open Golf overrun (1.8)) was the Daytime Emmy Awards (0.8), significantly down from last year's 1.1. Family Guy (1.8) led the repeat pack.
  • The only June 26 original was the second-season premiere of The Marriage Ref (1.6), which tied last season's lowest point and failed to build on its America's Got Talent repeat lead-in (1.6, and scored a 1.9 in the 9:30 half hour). The evening's top program overall was the Family Guy repeat (1.9).
Numbers from 6/19/11 through 6/25/11 based on FINAL adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted. Numbers starting on 6/26/11 based on PRELIMINARY adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Definitive Sports TV Ratings Post, 2010-11 Edition

UPDATE: For more info, please refer to the most recent edition of this post.

The first one of these was one of the most popular posts I've ever done, and I think the info is definitely all worth putting in one place again! As more info on sports TV ratings becomes publicly available, I hope to be able to expand on this in future years, but for now I'm mostly going to examine the same stuff I examined last year. So let's take a look at sports that air regularly in broadcast primetime and the big sports championships from the 2010-11 season!

First, I'll return to the three regularly-scheduled sports franchises that I examined last year:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The War of 18-49, Private Practice


Scheduling history: The successful opening season of Private Practice aired in the middle of a night of three new Wednesday dramas in fall 2007 on ABC. When that three-drama block started going awry in fall 2008, ABC shipped Private Practice to the post-Grey's Anatomy slot on Thursday. It stayed there for more than three years, then went to Tuesday late in the 2011-12 season and remained there for the final season.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

War of 18-49 Update, Desperate Housewives (2010-11)

Let's take a look at the 2010-11 season (the seventh overall) of Desperate Housewives on ABC.

2010-11 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 2.7/3.46/4.4

Rating the Ratings: The declines have become predictable for the Housewives in recent years. Since season 4 lost just 11% of the season 3 average, the next three years' drops have been almost eerily close: -21%, -20%, then -19% in season 7. It's not long ago at all that Desperate Housewives was one of the ratings monsters of primetime, but by the spring of 2011, even breaking a 3.0 demo was a struggle. It's interesting that after years of people claiming ABC left Brothers & Sisters after it for too long, it finally gets to lead into something new (Pan Am) in the year when it may finally decline out of "bonafide hit" range. (Another 20% drop would leave it at just a 2.8 average next year.) Grade: C-.

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

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The War of 18-49, Wipeout


Scheduling history: ABC premiered Wipeout on Tuesday in summer 2008 and has shuffled it around quite a bit since. Season two aired on Wednesdays, and then the next four summer seasons aired on some combination of Tuesday and Thursday. The long-troubled Thursday 8/7c hour became Wipeout's home during its two regular season runs. In season seven, it got its first crack at Sunday.

Monday, June 20, 2011

War of 18-49 Update, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (2010-11)

Let's take a look at the 2010-11 season (the eighth overall) of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on ABC.

2010-11 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 1.5/2.26/2.7

Rating the Ratings: Since peaking in the 2004-05 season when fellow Sunday program Desperate Housewives blew up, it's been pretty steadily downward for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. This season brought another 17% drop, its fifth double-digit year-to-year drop in the last six seasons. Though the size of the drop has been reliable for years, this was really the first year that the show's raw numbers sunk low enough to become a somewhat marginal player. Temporary spring replacement Secret Millionaire actually outrated it. The show's still a little too strong to get rid of, so it'll get bumped to Friday, which has been the final resting place for a couple other recent unscripted franchises on ABC. That means it's leaving its Sunday timeslot on a regular basis for the first time. Such a move is not likely to stop the bleeding, but it skews a lot older than strong timeslot competition Kitchen Nightmares, so it'll have a chance to carve out a good-for-Friday number. Grade: C-.

Here's the now updated War of 18-49 post for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

Summer 2011 Cable Ratings Guide, #1

Hoping to do a couple more of these as the summer progresses, maybe in late July and then a final one in mid-September before the regular season gets going. These are some quick thoughts on how most of the current scripted originals on cable are doing, along with a few particularly notable unscripted originals. There will plenty more to add in the next one of these. I mostly talk adults 18-49 ratings even though not all these networks necessarily target that; this is because it's almost always accessible and I think it's still usually more useful than total viewer comparisons.

Friday, June 17, 2011

War of 18-49 Update, 30 Rock (2010-11)

Let's take a look at the 2010-11 season (the fifth overall) of 30 Rock on NBC.

2010-11 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 1.7/2.27/3.1

Rating the Ratings: After two years in the cushy post-Office slot, 30 Rock got moved to 8:30 in the fall of 2010, where it performed pretty decently in significantly outrating its Community lead-in (though it had higher HUT and much less comedy competition than Community). It proved capable of benefiting from the stunt treatment when its live episode hit a 3.1 demo, its highest total of the season by nearly half a point. Then it became the anchor for an experimental third hour of comedy, and it did OK in that role as well. Though its full average is down 16% from last year, that doesn't look so bad considering its two timeslots were both tougher than its situation last year. Grade: C+.

Here's the now updated War of 18-49 post for 30 Rock.

Spotted Ratings, Thursday 6/16/11

  • The drops continue for So You Think You Can Dance (2.1) as the show hit a new season low and dropped 16% week-to-week.
  • Everybody aired at least some repeats on this evening. The standout was ABC's Wipeout, whose 1.8 demo over two hours may bode well for the show's return to originals on Tuesday.
Above based on preliminary adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The War of 18-49, The Big Bang Theory


Scheduling history: The Big Bang Theory aired in three different Monday half-hours during its first three seasons, including in the plum slot after Two and a Half Men for season three. That prepared the show to lead off a new CBS comedy night on Thursday. It's continued in that role... but starting in season eight, it made some brief Monday returns at the beginning of the fall while CBS was airing Thursday Night Football.

See (who saw) how it all began: Big Bang didn't premiere as the megahit it would eventually become. In the first half of its first season, it could be best described as an 'expectations exceeder,' building on its How I Met Your Mother lead-in when several previous shows had failed to do so. It premiered to 9.52 million viewers and a 3.7 demo on 9/24/07, dropped to a 3.3 in week two, and would linger in the low-to-mid 3's for the next several weeks. It seemed to be on the upswing in late November, posting a 3.7 and then a 3.8 demo, but then came the WGA strike, and Big Bang was temporarily out of episodes.

The best of times: Though its season three berth in the post-Two and a Half Men slot remains (very narrowly) Big Bang's strongest raw numbers season, it's become even more valuable since its move to Thursday. 2012-13 and 2013-14 both became the largest sitcom season in A18-49+ since Friends ended. It hit a series high 6.4 demo on 1/10/13, and the 6.1 demo on 9/26/13 was the biggest historical-adjusted episode.

The worst of times: The immediate aftermath of the WGA strike was when HIMYM finally turned into something more than a perennial bubble show and picked up some serious momentum. Interestingly, it was the opposite for Big Bang. Mother moved to 8:30 after the strike and prospered, but it came at the expense of the other CBS 8:00 hour comedy. For nearly a decade, spring 2008 remained the only time Big Bang ever dropped below a 3.0 demo, and it actually did it five times in its final six episodes that season. Season ten finally brought new raw lows, but the show still nearly made it through a 12-season run without falling below 2.0. It happened just a few times late in the final season, bottoming out with a 1.8 on 4/25/19.

Then vs. now: During season four, you could at least question the logic behind CBS moving Big Bang to Thursday. After all, it took a sizable hit from that move in season four. But it still ended up with a better average than in either of its first two seasons, and that was a nice achievement considering it was opening up a whole new night of comedy for its network. But the best was still to come. Syndication exposure on TBS helped Big Bang's fifth season nearly get back to the heights of its post-Two and a Half Men days, and it did this despite its difficult timeslot; it became the first scripted show to regularly beat American Idol head-to-head. It followed up on its hot finish to 2011-12 by becoming the top broadcast entertainment program of 2012-13, and nothing came close to knocking it off its perch in 2013-14. The streak ended in 2014-15, which saw Big Bang's first historical-adjusted decline plus the emergence of a drama megahit with a higher average (Empire). But it's for the most part remained the top comedy by a wide margin (excepting a brief Roseanne explosion in 2018), and the closest thing broadcast has seen to another Friends.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

12007-08Mon 8:30, Mon 8:
22008-09Monday 8:003.79+16%3.34.5detail
32009-10Monday 9:305.26+39%4.66.0detail
42010-11Thursday 8:004.00-24%3.24.9detail
82014-15Mon 8:00, Thu 8:004.32-15%3.45.5detailC+
122018-19Thursday 8:002.28-17%1.83.2detailC+

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

32009-10187big hit1.78+48%163213167188
42010-11157big hit1.50-16%126193193142


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

Spotted Ratings, Wednesday 6/15/11: Bru-win

  • It's subject to finals adjustment, but based on the preliminaries for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals (3.2), it appears the game will end up rating more than 50% higher than any of the series' previous six games. It should go up a bit, but 3.2 would tie the rating for the decisive Game 6 from last year.
  • So You Think You Can Dance (2.6) shed another couple tenths week-to-week, while ABC's news special Caught in the Act (1.6) did pretty decent business, slightly growing out of the Modern Family repeats.
Above based on preliminary adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Recent NBA Finals Ratings

I did one of these for the World Series, and with the NBA Finals soaring of late, this seems a nice thing to look at. The following chart looks at the last six years of NBA Finals ratings, game-by-game. I was going to only do the last five years but decided to throw in 2006 since that was another Dallas/Miami series. Sorry if that clutters things a bit!

War of 18-49 Update, Rules of Engagement (2010-11)

Let's take a look at the 2010-11 season (the fifth overall) of Rules of Engagement on CBS.

2010-11 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 2.2/2.88/3.4

Rating the Ratings: This season of Rules dropped just 4% from last season, the smallest year-to-year drop in the history of the show. The problem is there's no true apples-to-apples comparison between this year and last. It started its 2009-10 season in the spring of 2010 on Monday, then it aired in the fall of 2010 on Monday, then for the spring it moved to Thursday. Its fall Monday numbers were a touch up from the spring Monday numbers, but that's to be expected (CBS comedy is always stronger in the fall/winter than in the spring), and then airing on Thursday after The Big Bang Theory (and against American Idol) it had easily its weakest run yet. It was another OK season for a show that's survived a long time doing just OK. Next fall, it faces a particularly creative scheduling turn as it's slated to air episodes leading off Saturday night. Grade: C+.

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

Spotted Ratings, Tuesday 6/14/11

  • Despite TV powers that be rejoicing the lack of a double-digit-demo NBA Finals Game 7, the broadcast ratings were still fairly uninspiring. America's Got Talent (3.3) was the biggest disappointment, down double-digits for the second straight Tuesday. The Voice (4.5) and Masterchef (1.9) were both just about even week-to-week, and none of the repeats even got a noticeable bounce.
Above based on preliminary adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Spotted Ratings, Monday 6/13/11: The Bruin Shoo-In

  • Big year-to-year drops have been common for the Stanley Cup Finals this year, but they were more pronounced than ever on this Monday, with Game 6 (2.0) down 37% from last year's sixth game. That's the series' highest number yet, but it's also the second-biggest year-to-year drop yet (behind game 2, which was a Saturday-vs.-non-Saturday comparison). But this game was a blowout, and it also wasn't a decisive game as was last year's Game 6. Wednesday's seventh and absolutely final game should see a nice bump over any demos this series has produced to date.
  • MasterChef (2.0) had its second straight uptick, perhaps benefiting from the 9:00 timeslot and the encore lead-in, while The Bachelorette (2.4) and week three of Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition (2.0) both came down a bit.
Above based on FINAL adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

War of 18-49 Update, American Dad! (2010-11)

Let's take a look at the 2010-11 season (the seventh overall) of American Dad! on Fox.

2010-11 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 1.6/2.25/3.1

Rating the Ratings: This was far and away the weakest season yet of American Dad!, with the 2.25 average taking a 22% dip year-to-year. But that's misleading, because the show aired the second half of its season in the Sunday 7:30/6:30 timeslot, where the lead-ins and the viewing levels are much smaller. So we can't exactly give it the typical -22% grade. The best apples-to-apples comparison is the fall ratings, since the show aired at 9:30 in both fall 2010 and fall 2011; just comparing those, the show was down 13%. It averaged a 1.81 in its 7:30 airings, certainly not great but not really too bad for a show that's been seemingly leaning on the Family Guy lead-in for so long. They were demos fairly reminiscent of what King of the Hill would get in its later years in the 7:00 hours. Make of this what you will, but Fox decided to put Dad! back in the post-Family Guy slot for fall 2011. Grade: C.

Here's the now updated War of 18-49 post for American Dad!

Monday, June 13, 2011

War of 18-49 Update, How I Met Your Mother (2010-11)

Let's take a look at the 2010-11 season (the sixth overall) of How I Met Your Mother on CBS.

2010-11 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 2.5/3.39/3.9

Rating the Ratings: For most of its sixth season, How I Met Your Mother turned in yet another stellar season leading off Mondays, and it only finished the season down 4% average-wise. But things got a little crazy in the spring for HIMYM (along with everything else on CBS Monday) as the lack of Two and a Half Men originals seemed to sink all surrounding boats. HIMYM wasn't as hurt as much as Men lead-out Mike & Molly, but it still looked like panic time for awhile there; it had a late-season stretch where seven straight episodes were down from the previous episode, and during that stretch (January 17 to April 18) the show went from its season high 3.9 to its season low (and tying a series low) 2.5. It made a bit of a recovery from there, especially for the 3.1 finale, and spring drops are typical for the CBS comedies, so I wouldn't get too worried yet. But if the Ashton Kutcher era on Men is a bust, it may end up dragging the whole night even farther down. This fall, HIMYM leads into 2 Broke Girls, supposedly one of the more promising CBS comedy pilots in recent years. Grade: B.

Here's the now updated War of 18-49 post for How I Met Your Mother.

Spotted Ratings, Sunday 6/12/11: The Heat Defeat

  • Looks like great ratings for the sixth and final game of the NBA Finals. Preliminarily, it's an 8.6 demo, and the final number should be higher (though it won't rise as much percentage-wise as the Tuesday/Thursday games since it didn't run out of primetime). Don't want to speculate on exact numbers, but I feel pretty confident it'll finish well ahead of any other game in this series as well as last year's game six, and most likely significantly behind the 11.4 for last season's seventh and final game.
  • The Tony Awards (1.2) were up a tick year-to-year.
Above based on preliminary adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Spotted Ratings, Thursday 6/9/11: LeBratings

  • Final results to come later, but Game 5 of the NBA Finals (6.3 prelim) scored the series' highest preliminary number yet, meaning this game should ultimately score noticeably higher than the previous four. Can't find anyone who's rooting for the Heat? I recommend the ABC/ESPN execs, who will be hoping Game 6 goes Miami's way so there's what will certainly be a huge game 7 on Tuesday.
  • On the downswing were So You Think You Can Dance (2.4), hitting easily its lowest number this season to date and remaining a little down year-to-year, and burn-off Love Bites (0.9), down one tick from last week's premiere.
Above based on preliminary adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

War of 18-49 Update, Family Guy (2010-11)

Let's take a look at the 2010-11 season (the tenth overall) of Family Guy on Fox.

2010-11 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 3.0/3.57/4.7

Rating the Ratings: It was another decent season for the top dog of Fox's Sunday animation block. It took a 7% drop from 2009-10, hitting its lowest average since the 2005 revival. That was a bigger drop than its -3% last season, but it's nothing too alarming. The red flag from this season was the late-season performance, as the gap between the fall and spring ratings widened considerably. In 2009-10, the show still posted a 3.8 and 3.9 demo in May, but the 2010-11 season never got higher than a 3.3 demo after January 16. Look for this (and the rest of the animation) to bounce back up with football leading in again this fall, but the loss of late-season potency is worth keeping an eye on. Grade: B-.

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

Spotted Ratings, Wednesday 6/8/11

  • In the first showdown between the talent competition staples (though only one of each of their hours overlapped), it was the Wednesday premiere of America's Got Talent (3.6) beating So You Think You Can Dance (2.8). NBC notes this was the strongest non-finale Wednesday result for Got Talent since 7/5/06 (when Wednesday was its main night). Dance was down three-tenths from last week, while Got Talent's first Wednesday ep was down a tenth from the Tuesday episode this week.
  • With added competition, most of the repeats on ABC and CBS did much worse than last week. The standout remains Modern Family (1.6 average for its two repeats).
Above based on preliminary adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

War of 18-49 Update, NCIS (2010-11)

Let's take a look at the 2010-11 season (the eighth overall) of NCIS on CBS.

2010-11 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 3.5/3.99/4.6

Rating the Ratings: Season eight of NCIS was down just 2% from its remarkably-rated season seven, and it slightly built its lead (on Criminal Minds) as the strongest drama on CBS. And the 3.5 demo season low is easily the highest season low point out of the show's eight seasons. So why is it merely a solid season and not a great one? Because its biggest competition, American Idol, left Tuesday evenings in 2011. The average isn't pulled down by a bunch of against-Idol eps in the winter/spring. In terms of grading the season, NCIS is a bit a victim of its own success. -2% for a top-rated show is usually good for a B+ or A-, but this show is coming off of two years of phenomenal growth (+8% in 2008-09, +12% in 2009-10), so for it to start coming back down in the same year it loses the Idol competition means that usually great -2% actually looks a bit underwhelming by comparison. Grade: B.

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

Spotted Ratings, Tuesday 6/7/11

  • In round two of the summer's biggest ratings showdown, the NBA Finals vs. America's Got Talent/The Voice, the Finals (5.5 prelim) look about even week-to-week (5.5 prelims with 9:00 start times have typically risen to about a 6.5 in finals). The best news of all for ABC is that we're now assured the Finals are going at least six games, and they're certainly rooting for Miami and Dallas to split the next two and force a Game 7 next Tuesday. 
  • Got Talent (3.6) and The Voice (4.5) were both down from last week. Got Talent took the steeper 16% drop, but it's no big surprise considering it's coming off the two-hour premiere and this episode was just one hour. Perhaps it's a bit of a disappointment for The Voice in its first live show, and it dropped slightly in the second hour.
  • Using the standards set by Monday's disappointing 1.8 premiere number, the Tuesday premiere of Masterchef (1.9) actually doesn't look so bad, especially considering the Got Talent competition. We'll see if the growth can continue.
Above based on preliminary adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

How #TheVoice is Getting Laryngitis

As I said in my first thoughts about The Voice, there was so much to like about the blind auditions that took up the first four hours, even as someone who's usually not a fan of talent competitions. I can really boil it down to three things: the premise that the show would be "all about the voice," the general air of positivity and the friendly competitiveness among the coaches. Five weeks later, we're into the live shows, and I think I can sadly say that all three of those assets have either been abandoned or are now actually working against the show.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

War of 18-49 Update, Dancing with the Stars (spring 2011)

Let's take a look at the winter/spring 2011 season (the twelfth overall) of Dancing with the Stars on ABC.

Monday spring 2011 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 4.0/4.65/5.3
Tuesday spring 2011 adults 18/49 low/average/high: 3.0/3.63/4.6

Rating the Ratings: Average-wise, the Monday performance shows actually posted the weakest winter/spring peformance average in the history of the show, but just barely; it was only down 4% from last year's average. But those drops are heavily weighted toward the beginning of the season, when the show significantly trailed the buzzy Kate Gosselin beginning. In May sweeps when I was doing Demos Year-to-Year, the Monday shows were always up, sometimes by double digits. And the Tuesday shows made enormous strides, up a staggering 28% year-to-year to the strongest Tuesday numbers for a spring DWTS cycle in three years. Now, there are a couple reasons for that; the Tuesday shows moved from low-viewing 8:00 back up to 9:00, and probably even more importantly they didn't face American Idol anymore. I'm torn between A minus and A, but since I'm not sure any other season in this summer's updates will actually score an A, and I think I might have been a little hard on the fall season giving it an A minus (it was up double-digits on both nights!), I guess I'll be a softie with this one... Grade: A.

Here's the now updated War of 18-49 post for Dancing with the Stars. (Also updated on the DWTS page: I've recorded all the episodes' lengths and updated the averages weighting them accordingly, so everything should be pretty accurate now. I did this on American Idol as well, though in that case I couldn't get the length for some of the eps in the first three seasons.)

Spotted Ratings, Monday 6/6/11: MasterChoke

  • The second season premiere of MasterChef (1.8) was down 33% from last year's post-Hell's Kitchen premiere. I didn't expect it to do as well without the very compatible lead-in, but this still looks like a disappointment to me (my guess was 2.2).
  • ABC had a good night as The Bachelorette (2.6) made a nice rally from last week's weak result and 10:00 newbie Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition (2.2) was down just two ticks in its second week.
Above based on preliminary adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The War of 18-49, Kitchen Nightmares


Scheduling history: Kitchen Nightmares has aired on four different days of the work week. Season one was on Wednesday, season two on Thursday and season three split among Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. It eventually settled in as a Friday program, airing the last several full seasons on the evening.

Spotted Ratings, Sunday 6/5/11

  • For the third straight game, the NBA Finals scored a 5.5 preliminary demo. Games 1 & 2 both adjusted up to a 6.5 demo, but it might end up a little bit lower this time because the full game took place in primetime on the East Coast. On a prelim-vs.-prelim basis, the Finals remain up year-to-year (this time up 15% from last year's 4.8 prelim).
Above based on preliminary adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

True Strength Begins: Viewing Levels 101

I've been working on a large intro to this project, but I think what I have really confuses things at this point, and most of these posts should pretty much stand on their own anyway. So rather than hold up the whole deal till I get the perfect intro, we're just gonna dive right in. The short version, as said in my pre-summer post, is that I'm going to spend a lot of this summer trying to figure out how various factors affect TV ratings. Those factors include but aren't necessarily limited to: viewing levels, competition, time of day, time of year, day of the week, lead-in. And a lot of those things overlap. I think I'll post the more formal intro within the next few weeks, as there are some things I need to establish, but the first few posts should be OK without that.

Disclaimer - I'm getting the viewing level posts over with right off the bat because, as I say on the daily posts when I post the viewing levels, these numbers are inexact and not supplied by Nielsen; I have to estimate by combining the ratings divided by shares of everything in a timeslot. Because of that, I try to minimize the error by using averages of as many data points as possible. But there's still going to be some margin of error. So what I recommend paying attention to in these posts is the broad strokes, not the exact figures. This is most useful as a set of general guidelines and for comparative purposes.

Friday, June 3, 2011

War of 18-49 Update, The Office (2010-11)

Let's take a look at the 2010-11 season (the seventh overall) of The Office on NBC.

2010-11 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 3.2/3.74/4.4

Rating the Ratings: This was a heavily hyped season of The Office because it was known from the beginning that it'd be the last for lead Steve Carell. But in spite of all that, the ratings were really nothing special in either direction. The season as a whole took a 6% drop year-to-year, almost exactly in line with the previous two seasons' declines (6% in 2008-09 and 7% in 2009-10). There wasn't that big of a buildup to the Carell departure; four of the season's six worst results came in the five eps before Carell's finale. Carell's penultimate episode scored just a 3.3 demo, the second-lowest of the season, and the 4.2 for Carell's final episode was a smaller spike than almost everyone predicted. So considering the Carell fanfare was a mild ratings disappointment, the fact that the season was only down 6% overall is pretty good. For now, it's still head and shoulders above everything else scripted on its network. The real test will be the first full post-Carell season. Grade: B-.

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

Spotted Ratings, Thursday 6/3/11: Love Bombs

  • The premiere of NBC summer burnoff Love Bites (1.0) certainly didn't do well but was, if nothing else, close to what you'd expect from NBC comedy reruns in the hour. Next week's probably when it hits "lower than comedy reruns" territory.
  • Game 2 of the NBA Finals (5.5) was even with the game 1 prelim number. Said game 1 prelim was adjusted up to a 6.5.
  • So You Think You Can Dance (2.8) dropped 15% from last week's premiere and is now down year-to-year.
Above based on preliminary adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

War of 18-49 Update, Grey's Anatomy (2010-11)

Let's take a look at the 2010-11 season (the seventh overall) of Grey's Anatomy on ABC.

2010-11 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 3.2/4.10/5.4

Rating the Ratings: Since the show's peak in its first Thursday season, it's been all downhill for Grey's, and this season was no exception. Its 4.07 average was down 15% from last year, and that 15% drop is almost identical to last year's 16% drop. The show has still shown an ability to flex some muscle, like the stellar 4.9 demo it managed for the musical episode only a couple months ago, but for the most part it seems the show's days of consistently breaking 4.0 are behind it. It's probably still got a couple more years as force for ABC. Grade: C+.

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

Spotted Ratings, Wednesday 6/1/11

  • The Wednesday premiere of So You Think You Can Dance (3.0) was down three-tenths from last Thursday's premiere but up two-tenths vs. last year's first Wednesday telecast. The season remains off to a good start on a year-to-year basis.
  • Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals got a 1.8 preliminary adults 18-49 rating from 8:00-11:00. That would be up a tick from last year's Saturday game 1, but the 1.8 is subject to finals adjustment.
Above based on preliminary adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

War of 18-49 Update, American Idol (2011)

Let's take a look at the winter/spring 2011 season (the tenth overall) of American Idol on Fox.

Wednesday 2011 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 6.4/7.82/9.7
Thursday 2011 adults 18/49 low/average/high: 5.7/7.10/9.2

Rating the Ratings: There was a lot of concern coming into this season about how the show's revamp would go over, with Simon Cowell out (along with Ellen Degeneres and Kara DioGuardi) and Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez in. Some thought the network had even moved the show to Wednesday/Thursday so they'd have an additional excuse in case there was a severe ratings downturn. I personally predicted it'd be down more than 20%. Instead, the show had its smallest year-to-year drop since 2007, with its Wednesday shows down just 6% from last year's Tuesday shows an its Thursday down just 4% from last year's Wednesday. And it's not like this was just about people sampling the judges; it tended to get better as the season progressed, capped off with a finale up a full point (12%) year-to-year. I usually save grades this high for shows that are up year-to-year, but I think this season vastly exceeded expectations considering all the changes going on, and it obviously still has raw numbers that easily overshadow anything else in primetime these days, so I'll put it on the top line. Grade: A-.

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

Spotted Ratings, Tuesday 5/31/11: America's Got Ratings

  • If you read yesterday's War of 18-49 for America's Got Talent, you know that the franchise hadn't broken a 4.0 in adults 18-49 since 2007. Until now. The Got Talent premiere was up 19% year-to-year and the show's best result since a 4.4 demo on 6/19/07. Outstanding start.
  • Last week, I urged not to bury The Voice just yet after its disappointing number against the Dancing finale, and this week brought a nice 29% rebound week-to-week. Next week: the two-hour live shows begin, and with the earlier start time I'd think the show might increase even more.
  • Despite the huge NBC results, the dominant network starting at 9:00 was ABC. Game 1 of the NBA Finals rose in the final ratings to a 6.5 demo, up 14% from last year's Celtics/Lakers Game 1.

War of 18-49 Update Rubric

Starting today, we're getting back into "War of 18-49 Update" mode. These are short posts in which I take a look at how an individual show rated this season. At the end, I give the season of ratings a letter grade. You don't have to lurk at a site that grades individual TV episodes very long to notice that a lot of people get really obsessive about grades. Just in case that ever happens here, I thought I'd give a look at how I come up with the grades, although there is still going to be some subjectivity/"gut feel." These are just my general guidelines.

1. Year-to-year. This is by far the most important part of these grades, and the raw year-to-year percentage rise or drop is always going to be the starting point for a grade. This is roughly how these break down:

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