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.

See (who saw) how it all began: For much of the middle part of the 2000s, ABC was a bit of a disaster area during the summer, but things turned around with the resurrection of The Bachelorette and, perhaps even more importantly, the premiere of Wipeout. Wipeout began on 6/24/08 with 9.97 million viewers and a 3.7/12 demo. It dropped just one tenth in week two, then in week three it rose to a 4.0 demo for the first and only time in series history.

The best of times: The strongest sustained run for Wipeout was probably the first half of season 1, with the first five episodes of the series producing four of the series' six demos of 3.5 or higher. The high point was the show's third week on the air, when it produced 10.60 million viewers and a 4.0/13 in adults 18-49. It looked for the next couple years like the show may never rival those numbers again, but the show's regular season debut in 2011 produced shockingly high initial numbers, starting with a 3.8 and 3.7 demo in its first two weeks. But then...

The worst of times: ...American Idol entered the Thursday mix. Idol's first week back saw Wipeout drop from 3.7 to 2.6, and within about a month after that Wipeout was producing some of its worst numbers ever. The summer runs have also gotten quite weak since Wipeout took on the regular season. Summer 2012 saw the show settle at a low-1's level down the stretch, and most of the summer 2013 run remained mired in the low-1's. It was usually sub-1 in the second half of season seven, including a mere 0.6 over Labor Day weekend on 8/31/14.

Then vs. now: When looking at any season of Wipeout ratings, what sticks out is how people seem to tire of it within every season. The winter/spring run in 2011 was the most pronounced example (see the drop from 3.8 to 1.4), but almost every season takes an abnormally big drop from beginning to end. But the fascinating thing is that each time a new season starts, a lot of the interest is rekindled. Again, the winter premiere is the most pronounced example, as the show suddenly hit a 3.8 demo after having not posted those kinds of numbers in about 2.5 years. The one exception was in summer 2011, when Wipeout never really bounced back at all, perhaps because its previous run had ended so recently. ABC seemed to learn that lesson, as the summer 2012 Wipeout season came in off of a longer hiatus, and it was indeed up a bit at the beginning. But that interest fizzled as quickly as it has in most Wipeout seasons, leaving the show at lowest-ever levels. It maintained those low-1's for most of its sixth season and then took a league average drop in season seven, leaving its fate uncertain as of this writing.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
1Summer 2008Tuesday 8:
2Summer 2009Wednesday 8:002.66-14%1.83.3detail
3Summer 2010Tue 8:00, Thu 8:002.77+4%2.43.1detail
4Summer 20111.94-30%1.42.4detailD
5Summer 2012Thu 9:00, Thu 8:001.55-20%1.12.2detailD+
6Summer 2013Thursday 8:001.08-30%0.91.3detailD-
7Summer 2014Sunday 8:000.96-11%0.61.4detailB-

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
1Summer 2008 95 hit(sum)1.79 61 122 113 61
2Summer 2009 89 solid(sum)1.68 -6% 60 111 111 70
3Summer 2010 99 hit(sum)1.87 +11% 86 111 111 93
4Summer 2011 77 solid(sum)1.45 -22% 55 95 67 91
5Summer 2012 66 marginal(sum)1.24 -15% 47 93 85 51
6Summer 2013 51 marginal(sum)0.97 -22% 43 62 62 43
7Summer 2014 51 marginal(sum)0.96 -1% 32 74 58 48

Winter Wipeout adults 18-49 ratings by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
12010-11Thursday 8:

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
12010-11 91 marginal1.71 55 150 150 67
22011-12 79 marginal1.48 -13% 63 114 80 63

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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