Friday, July 29, 2011

Spotted Ratings, Thursday 7/28/11

  • After dropping a couple ticks on Wednesday, Big Brother (2.6) picked back up. It was even week-to-week and the night's dominant program. Wipeout (1.9) tied an encore of The Big Bang Theory (1.9) for the second-highest rating of the evening. So You Think You Can Dance (1.7) and Expedition Impossible (1.6) brought up the rear among originals, though Expedition was up a few ticks from last week. An encore of Law & Order: SVU (0.9) brought a modest improvement on previous occupant Love Bites (which usually scored around a 0.7).
Above based on preliminary adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

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

Let's take a look at the 2010-11 season (the sixth overall) of Supernatural on the CW.

2010-11 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 0.8/0.99/1.3

Rating the Ratings: This season of Supernatural may be the single best piece of ratings evidence in recent years that it's possible for a show to make a successful transition to Friday. While most recent cases have dropped 30%+ year-to-year in their moves to Friday (including longtime teammate Smallville, down 37% in its first Friday season), Supernatural dropped a mere 19%. That's only a little bit more than the viewing level decline from timeslot to timeslot, meaning we can probably estimate the show would've only dropped a touch if it'd stayed on Thursday. Its average was 93% of Smallville's average rating, easily Supernatural's best retention in the long history of that pairing. So this show whose demographic breakdown looks nothing like the CW's ideal ekes out yet another season, and it'll be joined on Friday by Nikita in fall 2011. Grade: B.

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

Spotted Ratings, Wednesday 7/27/11

  • Boring day on broadcast, as almost everything was very close to even week-to-week. The only significant movers were Big Brother (2.3) and Minute to Win It (1.3), both down double digits from their last originals. The dominant program of the night was America's Got Talent (2.7).
Above based on preliminary adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

True Strength: Competition 101 - Going Up Against TV Events

As I really only started to formalize in the last post, there are basically two baseline things we have to come up with for each of the "big three" adjustments: 1) how much a change in competition leads to a change in ratings, and 2) what an "expected" level of competition is for a given show. To get the first, we'll take a look at how shows are impacted ratings-wise in the face of big "TV events." (We already looked earlier at how those things drive up overall viewing.)

Competition vs. Broadcast PUT

I mentioned last post that I'd be looking at competition, but I've since decided to make these comparisons using something I started using in an earlier post: what I call "Broadcast Persons Using TV (PUT)," or basically the sum of all known ratings on the big five broadcasters in a given timeslot. I'm using this because, as I said in the last post laying out the competition issues, the pure "Competition" stat (sum of all broadcast ratings minus the rating of the show itself) can actually be pretty wildly variable even within the same timeslot, just because the different sized shows each contribute differently to the other shows' competition levels. So I think just including every show will create a more consistent idea of how heavy the competition is (even if it does sorta mean a show is being counted as facing itself).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

War of 18-49 Update, America's Next Top Model (Spring 2011)

Let's take a look at the spring 2011 cycle (the sixteenth overall) of America's Next Top Model on the CW.

Fall 2010 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 0.9/0.98/1.1.

Rating the Ratings: Though Top Model took a reasonable enough drop in its fall 2010 season, things completely fell apart this spring. This spring season was down a whooping 35% from the spring 2010 campaign. It did have to face American Idol more often than in the average season (since it now faced the longer performance shows), but the show didn't even recover at all when it got moved to 9/8c late in the season. It also didn't seem to drum up any interest as the season progressed, with the finale fizzling into the show's third-ever sub-2 million viewer performance. The 0.9 demo for the finale was down 47% year-to-year (from a 2010 finale that also faced Idol)! Despite its lack of a real boost at 9/8c, the CW will keep it there this fall. Overall, I'll keep it above a complete fail since it did have more Idol competition, but it's really close. Grade: D-.

Here's the now updated War of 18-49 post for America's Next Top Model.

Spotted Ratings, Tuesday 7/26/11

  • The top program of Tuesday remains NBC's America's Got Talent (3.0), but the show took another big week-to-week dip as its midsummer struggles continue. Got Talent's lead-in It's Worth What? (1.4) also dropped big in its second week on the air. 
  • Tying NBC for the overall A18-49 crown was Fox with Hell's Kitchen (2.6), whose Tuesday edition mimiced Monday's episode in ticking up week-to-week, and MasterChef (2.4).
  • ABC's once decently-rated 101 Ways to Leave a Game Show (1.4) ended its season on another weak note. At least part of the blame for the show's downfall should probably go to the lack of original Wipeout leading in. I wouldn't rule out a renewal, but it doesn't look as good as it did a few weeks ago. Next week, another reality newbie Take the Money and Run inherits the timeslot.
Above based on preliminary adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Spotted Ratings, Monday 7/25/11 (FINALS)

Decided to wait for the evening since I'm typically AFK around noon lately and the President Obama address kinda screwed up the preliminary ratings anyway.

  •  The Bachelorette (2.4) was up a tick week-to-week despite its rather odd scheduling on the East Coast. The first hour aired regularly, then the second hour aired in its entirety following a 25-minute interruption. Said interruption was worse to Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition (1.9), starting 25 minutes late and dropping a tick week-to-week in its season finale.
  • Hell's Kitchen (2.6) did not see any scheduling change and inched up from last Monday's premiere, while MasterChef (1.4) was changed to an encore at the last minute. That episode now airs tonight.
Above based on FINAL adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

War of 18-49 Update, One Tree Hill (2010-11)

Let's take a look at the 2010-11 season (the eighth overall) of One Tree Hill on the CW.

2010-11 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 0.6/0.86/1.2

Rating the Ratings: 2009-10 saw One Tree Hill take an alarming 23% drop, and the 2010-11 season was almost as bad, finishing down 21% from 2009-10. That kind of drop was expected coming into the season mostly because we thought it'd be facing the Tuesday edition of American Idol in the spring. The CDub's "Idol bait" plan for OTH got foiled when Fox moved Idol to Wednesday/Thursday, but the drops were still considerable. The show even posted a couple paltry 0.6 demos in early May. This show's second wind was one of the CW's few early success stories, but that second wind has clearly passed, and the net will be holding the erratically-scheduled One Tree Hill for, fittingly, one final midseason run scheduled who-knows-where. Grade: D+.

Here's the now updated War of 18-49 post for One Tree Hill.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The War of 18-49, Gossip Girl


Scheduling history: Gossip Girl premiered on Wednesday, but after the first half of its first season, the show has been a Monday fixture for the CW. It's bounced between the 8:00 and 9:00 hours and went back to 9:00 for its sixth and final season.

Spotted Ratings, Sunday 7/24/11: Tame Same Name

  • The premiere of CBS' Same Name (1.5) did not do well, dropping 38% of its Big Brother (2.4) lead-in. Considering it's premiere night and it's likely to get worse, consider this a pretty bad start. I blame one of the dumber premises in recent memory.
  • Despite a new show entering the mix, the second-biggest shows of Sunday remained animation encores, led by The Simpsons (1.8) and Family Guy (1.8). NBC's original The Marriage Ref (1.0) continues its march toward probable cancellation.
Above based on preliminary adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Spotted Ratings, Thursday 7/21/11

  •  Nothing hugely changed week-to-week. The night's dominant program Big Brother (2.5) did gain a couple ticks while Rookie Blue (1.2) was the biggest dropper, down a couple ticks. Wipeout (1.8) edged another tied-series-low showing from So You Think You Can Dance (1.6) at 8/7c. Newbie Expedition Impossible (1.3) hit a new low, while the ratings for the finale of Love Bites (0.7) bite one last time.
Above based on preliminary adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

True Strength: The Issues Ahead with Competition

As we've established across the last slew of posts, there's a relatively reliable correlation between ratings levels and viewing levels for the most part. We've looked at a few exceptions to that rule already, but competition is one of the biggest exceptions. There are times when viewing levels rise not due to a general "tendency to watch TV" but because there is actually something specific on the TV that is bringing in new viewers. And that thing on the TV actually drags down the other things on the TV.

Broadcast Competition vs. Cable Competition

As we've looked at in some other posts, the totality of broadcast programming is much more variable than the totality of cable programming. Broadcast is a small collection of networks that runs big hits sometimes and comparatively big flops sometimes; cable is a much larger collection of networks which individually don't get big ratings, so there's less variance. When looking at how TV events drive viewership away from other programs, there just aren't many programs on cable that are big enough to meaningfully make that happen. The cable competition just doesn't fluctuate enough to make it worth throwing that whole extra wrench in. There are a few times where I may regret this, but the only ones I've really come across are the BCS Championship Game (recently moved to ESPN) and perhaps to some extent ESPN's Monday Night Football. So we're just going to look at "competition" as broadcast competition.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

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

Let's take a look at the 2010-11 season (the sixth overall) of Bones on Fox.

2010-11 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 2.2/2.99/3.9

Rating the Ratings: Since season two, Bones seasons have been incredibly consistent, with each average somewhere between a 2.8 and 3.2 demo. This 2.99 average would seem to fit in nicely with that, but the problem is that the second half of season six aired with the benefit of a huge American Idol lead-in, the first time this show's had that boost since season one. So the best apples-to-apples comparison is probably the fall ratings. And the show's 2.53 average was down 11% from its 2009-10 fall average. Its competition was among its toughest yet, facing Big Bang Theory in the fall and the Grey's Anatomy/The Office/CSI gauntlet in 2011, but it remained a pretty solid player for Fox and was even outrating fellow Fox drama House for the first time in the late spring. Grade: B-.

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

Spotted Ratings, Wednesday 7/20/11

  • Wednesday's top show as usual was America's Got Talent (2.6), but the show remains sharply on the downturn in recent weeks. I'd say the end of accompanying The Voice and the end of the popular audition phase both deserve the blame.
  • Big Brother (2.5) only slightly trailed Got Talent, with So You Think You Can Dance (1.9) still bringing up the rear among the Wednesday staples. NBC's Love in the Wild (1.5) remains mediocre but lost just one tick week-to-week despite the big Got Talent drop. Criminal Minds and CSI (each 1.5) led the repeat pack.
Above based on preliminary adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

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

Let's take a look at the 2010-11 season (the twenty-second overall) of The Simpsons on Fox.

2010-11 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 2.3/3.21/5.7

Like Family Guy, the other Fox animation anchor, The Simpsons turned in another pretty solid season. It dropped just 5% from its 2009-10 average, which is a little worse than the previous year (when 2009-10 was dead even with 2008-09) but still pretty good. The show did get weaker in the spring as usual, but it wasn't taking the huge year-to-year drops in the spring as Family Guy somewhat alarmingly did. Overall, this generation-old show just keeps plugging away, and prepare for yet another year of The Simpsons having some of the most expensive ad spots in television. Grade: B.

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

Spotted Ratings, Tuesday 7/19/11: It's Rated WHAT?

  • Tuesdays got a bit more interesting this week as NBC premiered Cedric the Entertainer-hosted game show It's Worth What? (1.8, 6.71 million total viewers) to OK numbers. The show slightly exceeded my personal prediction (1.6) anyway, and it matched the week-ago encore of Got Talent.
  • Hell's Kitchen (2.5) also showed up on Tuesday for the first time this year, holding all of its premiere audience from the night before. It lifted MasterChef (2.2) to its best Tuesday number of the season to date.
  • On the decline is ABC's lineup, with once-promising 101 Ways to Leave a Game Show (1.5) losing another tick, and NBC's America's Got Talent (3.3), dropping almost 20% from last Tuesday's number.
Above based on preliminary adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

True Strength: Rating Changes During Weekends/Holidays

Awhile back, I looked at how much the overall TV viewing increases or declines when there's a big "event." We've since gone in a couple other directions, but now, we're going to circle back and zone in on how individual shows, rather than the entire landscape, fare in those same situations.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

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

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

2010-11 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 2.9/3.58/4.3

Rating the Ratings: It's been all downhill for House since it stopped benefiting from enormous American Idol lead-ins (which it did for some of each of its first four seasons). This was certainly House's worst season yet, as it took a steep 26% drop from its 2009-10 average despite mostly facing the same competition. An original on May 2 saw the show drop below a 3.0 demo for the first time since its opening few weeks on the air in late 2004. Though the show remains one of TV's strongest dramas, the drops at least caused a bit of a sweat as the stars' contract negotiations came up. Next year, Lisa Edelstein's out, the show heads to 9:00 and there seems to be a sense that the end is near. Grade: D.

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

Spotted Ratings, Monday 7/18/11

  • The return of Hell's Kitchen (2.5) was relatively modest for Fox, down four-tenths from last summer's premiere and down a tick from the first hour of the fall 2010 premiere night. It's the franchise's lowest premiere number ever. But its arrival likely helped MasterChef (even at 2.3) maintain the recent momentum it's garnered from moving to 9/8c.
  • The Bachelorette (2.2) tied its season low but lead-out Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition (2.0) continues to hold up pretty decently. I'm expecting a renewal for that one.
Above based on preliminary adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The War of 18-49, Hell's Kitchen


Scheduling history: Utility player Hell's Kitchen is the rare entertainment show to air on four different nights of the week and in all twelve months of the year. After two summers as a Monday/Tuesday show, Fox brought it back into the regular season in spring 2013, then aired the second half of the season on Thursday in the early summer. It had a similar arrangement in spring 2014, and quickly turned around as a Wednesday show on the fall 2014 schedule. It was back on Tuesday in summer 2015, then split time between Wednesday/Friday in 2016 and Thursday/Friday in 2017. The 2017-18 season was the first to air completely on Friday.

See (who saw) how it all began: Hell's Kitchen kicked off in the opening days of summer 2005, pulling a decent 6.80 million viewers and a 3.2/8 adults 18-49 rating on 5/30/05. But that'd actually end up being one of the lower-rated episodes of season one. It rose to a 3.5 demo in week two, then a 3.8 in week three. It came back down to into the low 3's for most of the rest of season one but spike big to a 4.4 in the season one finale.

The best of times: Time to sing the old refrain for Fox shows: Hell's Kitchen was at its best when it got to air after American Idol! It only got that honor in its fourth season, when it got moved to the regular season for the first time in part due to the dearth of programming because of the WGA strike. The show opened season four with 11.85 million viewers and a series-high 5.5/13 in the demo and usually broke a 5.0 in its post-Idol eps. In the back half of that season after Idol wrapped up, the show typically pulled around a 4.0 demo or a little over.

The worst of times: Since peaking with the partly post-Idol fourth season, each season of Hell's Kitchen has dropped from the previous one. After taking the 2009-10 season off from regular season action, it returned in fall 2010 to its worst numbers yet. On Thanksgiving Eve 2010, the show hit its lowest numbers yet, pulling then-series lows with 5.09 million viewers and a 2.2 demo. It finally went below a 2.0 for the first time in 2013 against regular season competition, and it has really plummeted the last couple years. Since hitting its first 0.8's in the 2016 season, it fell to 0.7 just once (on 12/1/17) in the next two seasons, before getting there several times in season 18.

Then vs. now: For its first three years, it looked like Fox was successfully developing Hell's Kitchen into the #1 powerhouse of the summer. Since then, it's developed into something entirely different: a true utility player. Unlike certain other summer franchises we've looked at, this one hasn't completely imploded when put in the regular season. It's premiered in six different months and aired at least once in all twelve months of the year. Though the ratings have been declining over the last few years, it remains clear Fox can put this show just about anywhere at just about any time of year and do good business. As the network's struggles has intensified in recent years, that's really been put to the test. In 2012-13 season, it plugged up a tough Tuesday slot where their comedies had failed. Fox ordered considerably more new shows for 2013-14, but the quick failure of Rake called Hell's Kitchen back into the regular season. And in 2014-15, it aired two cycles significantly within a single regular season for the first time. That finally started to take a noticeable toll in recent seasons, but season 16 saw a bounce back to 2014 levels.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

1Summer 2005Monday 9:003.422.94.4detail
2Summer 20063.57+5%2.84.5detail
3Summer 20073.97+11%3.54.5detail
42008Tuesday 9:004.65+17%3.65.5detail
52009Thursday 9:003.552.74.8detail
6Summer 2009Tuesday 8:003.39-27%2.83.8detail
7Summer 2010Tuesday 8:00/9:002.97-12%2.53.3detail
8Fall 2010Wednesday 8:00/9:002.772.23.4detail
9Summer 2011Monday 9:002.64-11%2.42.9detailB-
Tuesday 8:002.652.52.8
10Summer 2012Mon 8:00, Mon 9:002.57-3%2.42.9detailB
Tuesday 8:002.31-13%2.02.6
112013Tue 8:00, Thu 8:002.05-21%1.72.3detailC+
122014Thursday 8:001.66-19%1.32.0detailC-
13Fall 2014Wednesday 8:001.341.11.5detailD+
14Spring 2015Tue 8:00, Tue 9:001.23-26%1.11.4detailD+
15Winter 2016Friday 9:001.13-8%0.81.5detailB-
162016-17Fri 8:00, Thu 8:001.08-4%1.01.3detailB+
172017-18Friday 8:000.87-20%0.71.1detailC+
182018-19Friday 9:000.78-10%0.70.9detailB-
19Winter 2021Thursday 8:000.740.60.8detailA-
20Summer 2021Monday 8:000.610.50.7detail
212022-23Thursday 8:000.400.40.5detailB-

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

1Summer 200584solid(sum)0.367110879108
2Summer 200688solid(sum)0.38+5%6911169111
3Summer 2007105big hit(sum)0.45+20%9311998119
6Summer 2009113big hit(sum)0.48-20%9312693126
7Summer 2010106big hit(sum)0.45-6%89117103117
8Fall 2010109solid0.4787134102102
9Summer 2011104hit(sum)0.44-2%9411498102
10Summer 2012109big hit(sum)0.46+5%102123102106
13Fall 201480marginal0.3465898977
14Spring 201573marginal0.31-18%65838365
15Winter 201677marginal0.33+6%541027866
19Winter 2021115solid0.4998132118132
20Summer 202194hit(sum)0.40741099579

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

Spotted Ratings, Sunday 7/17/11

  • The only program doing much of anything is CBS' Big Brother (2.4), down a bit from last Sunday's premiere but still going pretty strong in this early part of its season. Things will soon get a tiny bit more interesting on Sundays as CBS premieres newbie Same Name next Sunday.
  • The standouts among encores remain Fox's animated anchor Family Guy (1.8) and lead-out American Dad! (1.7). The only other entertainment original The Marriage Ref (1.0) continues to limp along.
Above based on preliminary adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

True Strength: The Belated Intro

This post is about the general functions and goals of the True Strength project. For more on the meat of how I got to the current formula, see the summary of the process.

As I said in an earlier post, I don't think a big introduction to this project was really necessary for much of the duration since these posts are mostly just standalone "How do ratings behave?" essays. This is my best effort at a somewhat understandable description of the project, though I might do some tweaking to this post as things develop and I think of other stuff.

What is True Strength (TRUE)?

You don't have to spend much time around TV ratings to realize that the raw numbers Nielsen puts out each morning just aren't good enough. There's a context beneath each rating. Maybe it had a crappy lead-in. Maybe it faced off against "Death Star" American Idol. Every day, PR people and real journalists and wannabe journalists like myself try to figure out and/or shape that context.

Much as I like doing that every day, I've long felt there was room for something even better: an objective way of quantifying all these external pieces of context. And thus was born the True Strength project: a quest for a formula that could input the rating and the surrounding circumstances and come up with a True Strength, or a number that objectively strips out those surrounding circumstances.

For example, a show that airs after American Idol on a Wednesday at 9:00 against four networks in repeats would post much higher raw adults 18-49 ratings than that same show airing on Friday at 8:00 against a bunch of originals, but it should hypothetically have about the same "true strength" in both situations.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Spotted Ratings, Thursday 7/14/11

  • All of the (relatively many) originals on this Thursday were down week-to-week except for the weakest, burnoff Love Bites (even at 0.7). The biggest droppers were ABC's Expedition Impossible, down to an ugly 1.3, and CBS' Big Brother (2.3), which shed a half-point from its solid premiere last week.
  • Barely dropping were Fox's So You Think You Can Dance (1.6), but that number tied the series low from two weeks ago, and ABC's Wipeout (1.8) and Rookie Blue (1.4). The Big Bang Theory (1.6) continues to lead among repeats.
Above based on preliminary adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

War of 18-49 Update, The Celebrity Apprentice (Spring 2011)

Let's take a look at the spring 2011 season (the eleventh overall and the fourth celebrity edition) of The Celebrity Apprentice on NBC.

Spring 2011 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 2.4/2.82/3.1

Rating the Ratings: If you count the original recipe Apprentice and the celebrity editions as two separate series, then this marks the first time in the history of Apprentice that a season has grown from the previous season. (The only previous growth came with the advent of the celebrity edition.) In fact, it's the first season that wasn't down double-digits! It was up less than 1% from the spring 2010 edition, but that's still a pretty drastic difference from the typical Apprentice trend. Some might credit some of that initial interest to the hype surrounding Donald Trump's potential presidential run, and indeed the season did tail off toward the end and only picked up to a 3.0 demo for the finale. However, it was a pretty solid season overall, as the show didn't miss a beat from the epic fail of the original recipe revival last fall. Grade: B+.

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

Spotted Ratings, Wednesday 7/13/11

  • As CBS PR would tell you, Big Brother (2.6) had its best Wednesday premiere since 2003! (What that really means is better than last year and the two 2008 seasons. Those are the only ones since 2003 that actually aired on Wednesday. But that's still fine, I guess.) That's a little higher than the Sunday premiere and a little lower than the Thursday premiere from this year.
  • Big Brother was almost the evening's top program as America's Got Talent (2.8) was at easily its weakest levels of the season to date and the shows that sandwiched it, Minute to Win It (1.2) and Love in the Wild (1.7), were each down a couple ticks from last week.
  • The problems continue for So You Think You Can Dance (1.8), which dropped below 2.0 for its first airing of the week for the first time ever.
Above based on preliminary adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

War of 18-49 Update, Law & Order: SVU (2010-11)

Let's take a look at the 2010-11 season (the twelfth overall) of Law & Order: SVU on NBC.

Winter/spring 2011 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 2.0/2.58/3.2

Rating the Ratings: After spending over half a decade turning in right around a 5.0 demo, Law & Order: SVU then started dropping pretty quickly, taking a 15%+ drop in three of the last four years leading into this one. Stopping the bleeding might have seemed pretty improbable as the show wraps up its dozenth season, but SVU managed to do it, dropping just 4% overall year-to-year. The 3.2 demo it managed in its two-hour season premiere was one of the more surprising happenings of the 2010 premiere week (way up year-to-year), but the show settled from there and was usually just a little down from last year's numbers. It turned in a solid year as, once again, NBC's top-rated drama (not saying much), but uncertainty lies ahead in 2011-12 as the show loses one of its two iconic leads and phases out the other. Grade: B+.

Here's the now updated War of 18-49 page for Law & Order: SVU.

Spotted Ratings, Tuesday 7/12/11

  • Fox will probably win the evening with the MLB All-Star Game (VERY roughly 2.9), but it's unclear whether the All-Star Game or America's Got Talent (3.8) will be the evening's top program.
  • Got Talent joined 101 Ways to Leave a Game Show (1.6) and Combat Hospital (0.8) in declining significantly week-to-week against the added Fox competition.
Above based on preliminary adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

War of 18-49 Update, The Biggest Loser (Winter/Spring 2011)

Let's take a look at the winter/spring 2011 season (the eleventh overall) of The Biggest Loser on NBC.

Winter/spring 2011 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 2.3/2.84/3.3

Rating the Ratings: This winter/spring season of The Biggest Loser took a 15% drop from the winter/spring 2010 edition. The good news is that drop is much smaller percentage-wise than the fall season took. The bad news is that this was the first winter/spring edition that didn't have to go up against American Idol, as that show got shipped to Wednesday/Thursday. Considering how much Idol seems to hurt fellow unscripted shows, that makes this worse than your average 15% drop. And it didn't pick up at the end of the season to the extent that this show always seems to; its 3.1 season finale was by far the show's weakest ever and down more than 20% from last spring's. Grade: D+.

Here's the now updated War of 18-49 page for The Biggest Loser.

Spotted Ratings, Monday 7/11/11

  •  ABC's all-original lineup continues to rule Monday, with The Bachelorette (2.6) still Monday's top program. Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition (1.9) slipped three ticks from two weeks ago to a new low.
  • Last night's MasterChef (2.2) tied a season high as it continues to benefit slightly from the move to 9:00. Things may pick up even more once it gets a bigger lead-in in the coming weeks; Hell's Kitchen premieres on July 19.
  • The finale of Law & Order: LA (1.0) went out with a whimper, scoring its lowest rating ever and well below its typical summer average of about 1.3. The highlight of NBC's Monday remains the repeat of America's Got Talent (1.5), which tied Two and a Half Men as the night's biggest encore.
Above based on preliminary adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

True Strength: Early Fall Hype & The Methodology Adjustment

Last time, we tried to correlate viewing levels across the season with the adults 18-49 ratings of some "stable" shows across the season. We found that for much of the season, they linearly correlate pretty well, but there are two things keeping it from being a really good system:

1) Ratings are higher in the fall than the viewing levels dictate they should be. (Because of something I referred to as "Early Fall Hype."

2) Viewing levels are higher in the late spring than they "should" be because Nielsen changed its definition of "viewing level" during the middle of the season.

Now, here's how I'm gonna try to adjust for each of these!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The War of 18-49, Chuck


Scheduling history: With the exception of two special Thursday episodes at the end of season one, all of Chuck's episodes in seasons 1-4 aired on Monday. That changed in fall 2011 as it moves to Friday at 8/7c for its final season.

Spotted Ratings, Sunday 7/10/11

  • Didn't do one of these for last Sunday, but The Marriage Ref (FINAL 1.2 on July 3) dropped big from its premiere last week and then this Sunday's prelim (0.8) took another big dip. A lot of the reason for that was probably the lead-in, as US Women's Open golf (0.5) did much worse than and was most likely much less compatible than the usual America's Got Talent repeats.
  • July 10 was dominated by ABC's Jaycee Duggard special (3.7), which produced pretty huge summertime ratings. Basically the only things to do better so far this summer have been Got Talent, The Voice and the NBA Finals.
  • Big Brother (2.5) was up a tick from last summer's Sunday premiere to the show's best Sunday premiere numbers ever (though it's only been airing on Sundays since 2006).
Above based on preliminary adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

Friday, July 8, 2011

War of 18-49 Update, CSI: NY (2010-11)

Let's take a look at the 2010-11 season (the seventh overall) of CSI: NY on CBS.

2010-11 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 1.6/1.75/2.0

Rating the Ratings: As with the other CSI spinoff, the drop for CSI: NY in 2010-11 looks catastrophic on the surface: season seven was down 42% from season six! But CSI: NY can point to its move to Friday as a big reason for the decline. CSI: NY did go from a show dropping a big chunk of its Criminal Minds lead-in to one of the leading players on Friday night, and it helped launch Friday newbie Blue Bloods in a two-hour block that will return intact next season. However, I don't think we can just write off the whole 42% as being "a Friday thing." CSI: NY failed to even match Medium's demo average in the timeslot last season, which I think is something of a disappointment. However, it was up year-to-year vs. Medium toward the end of the season, and it certainly did a lot better than Medium this season. Overall, a pretty mixed bag, but I think a little more bad than good. Grade: D+.

Here's the now updated War of 18-49 post for CSI: NY.

Spotted Ratings, Thursday 7/7/11

  • For the first time in about a month and a half, all four networks had at least some regularly-scheduled original programming! Leading the pack was the season premiere of CBS' Big Brother (2.7), up a couple ticks from the year-ago season premiere. It was the franchise's biggest season premiere since summer 2007.
  • Among other "good faith" efforts, Fox's struggling So You Think You Can Dance (1.6) again tied the series low that it also tied last Thursday in the finals, promptly halting any momentum its spike from the previous night might have seemed to create. ABC's newbie Expedition Impossible (1.6) continues to decline precipitously, but Rookie Blue (1.5) picked back up a tick after falling last week.
  • Burnoff Love Bites on NBC posted another 0.7 rating.
 Above based on preliminary adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

New Scripted Series Premiere Dates in Fall 2011

We are still more than two months from the first series premiere of the 2011-12 broadcast season (SIGH), but I am gonna start talking about the fall a little bit here, because something really stuck out to me in the recent premiere date announcements. Here are the premiere dates for all the new scripted shows in fall 2011:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The War of 18-49, Big Brother


Scheduling history:  Since airing throughout the week in season one, Big Brother has traditionally been scheduled on three nights per week. Early in the run, the third day was a very low-priority evening (Friday or Saturday), but since season seven it's been Sunday. The first two days have been some mix of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with Wednesday/Thursday/Sunday the arrangement for the last half decade.

Spotted Ratings, Wednesday 7/6/11

  • Week two of NBC newbie Love in the Wild (1.9) dropped three-tenths from last week's premiere, but its lead-in retention (54%) was identical to last week with America's Got Talent (3.5) coming down 15% week-to-week. Still a fairly "meh" performance.
  • So You Think You Can Dance (2.4) had its best showing in a few weeks and was up 20% from last week's 2.0.
  • Another Casey Anthony-themed primetime edition of Nightline (1.3) got only a one-tick bump from last week.
Above based on preliminary adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

True Strength: Ratings Across the Season

A few days ago, we looked at adults 18-49 viewing levels across the season. Basically, they start low, mostly build up until the dead of winter, then precipitously decline from there (at least until Nielsen changed its methodology). But how does that match up with ratings?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

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

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

2010-11 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 2.3/2.96/3.4

Rating the Ratings: In what was overall a pretty terrible season for the CSI brand, it might be the mothership that actually had the best year of the three. Its 13% drop year-to-year was its smallest percentage drop in the last five seasons, as it finally managed to slow down the bleeding that's been pretty serious especially since William Petersen left (but to some extent even before that). In the last few weeks of the season, its year-to-year drops grew to around 20%, but otherwise it was one of the healthier recent seasons. It also reclaimed its crown as the highest-rated of the CSI series, a position it lost for the first time last season. Still, those drops were enough to make CSI one of CBS' weaker 9/8c offerings, so it's getting bumped to Wednesdays at 10/9c in the fall while newbie Person of Interest will inherit the timeslot CSI's held for over a decade. Grade: C+.

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

Spotted Ratings, Tuesday 7/5/11

  • With season one of The Voice in the books, that left NBC's other Tuesday tentpole America's Got Talent free to take over the night. And take over it did. The two-hour Vegas episode of Got Talent (4.5) hit the second-highest mark in the history of the series, only falling shy of the series premiere back on 6/21/06. Its lead-in was another original ep of Got Talent (3.4), the last of the audition episodes. It was up a tick from last week's 8:00 audition ep.
  • Fox moved its second night of MasterChef (2.1) to 9:00 (having already moved the Monday edition there earlier), and it got a three-tenths week-to-week boost.
  • ABC's 101 Ways to Leave a Game Show (1.9) continues to hold up surprisingly well, maintaining the rating of its first two weeks despite a repeat Wipeout lead-in (1.6). Combat Hospital (1.1) was even at last week's weak levels.
Above based on preliminary adults 18-49 ratings unless otherwise noted.

War of 18-49 Update, Criminal Minds (2010-11)

Let's take a look at the 2010-11 season (the sixth overall) of Criminal Minds on CBS.

2010-11 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 3.1/3.46/4.0

Rating the Ratings: Across the previous three years, there was no show on TV more consistent ratings-wise than Criminal Minds, averaging right around a 3.6 demo year in and year out. So a 4% drop for the show in 2010-11 almost seems like a big deal! Though its competition remained pretty stout (with Modern Family growing into one of TV's biggest hits this season), the show also had a consistently solid lead-in for the first time in years, with a couple cycles of Survivor shifting over to Wednesday. All things considered, I think I should be a little harder on this season than the typical -4% year. Maybe this slight downturn is a sign of bigger things to come. Grade: B-.

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

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

War of 18-49 Update, CSI: Miami (2010-11)

Let's take a look at the 2010-11 season (the ninth overall) of CSI: Miami on CBS.

2010-11 adults 18-49 low/average/high: 1.8/2.42/3.2

Rating the Ratings: Let's get the bad news out of the way first: the show's 2.42 average in 2010-11 was down an ugly 33% from its 2009-10 average. That's pretty bad almost any way you slice it. But there was some good news (or excuses?): the show provided a decent timeslot improvement for CBS compared to what they usually got from the final season of Cold Case last season. And it was certainly in a much tougher situation, having to face Sunday Night Football, frequently start with delays due to CBS' football overruns and lead out of decently-rated Undercover Boss rather than the biggest scripted show on TV (The Big Bang Theory) as the previous year. But none of that really covers up that 33% number. In a year, this went from the strongest 10:00 show on TV (and also the highest-rated of the CSI series last year) to a pretty mediocre player that wasn't necessarily a mortal lock to even come back. As we'll see later this week, this was just one bad story in a particularly rough season in CSI-land, but the show still returns to the Sunday hour next season. Grade: D.

Here's the now updated War of 18-49 post for CSI: Miami.

True Strength: Viewing Levels 103 - Viewing Across the Season

(Sorry! I said we'd get to actual ratings next time, but the thing I devised for the last post led to something else. I am pretty sure we'll get to actual ratings next time.)

Until I started doing my daily ratings spreadsheets, I really had no good sense of anything about viewing levels. But what I assumed as far as the entire year was that they'd be high for the hype of the fall, maybe drop a bit as shows settle from big premieres, then increase again as the weather gets awful, then decrease again in the late spring as the weather heats up. That certainly matches up with ratings even for relatively "stable" shows, which frequently do well in the fall and winter, then decline in the spring.

Well, based on what we can use on an apples-to-apples basis (before the March 28 methodology change), that's... sort of close to the truth. It's kind of annoying Nielsen made this change in the middle of a season, but they did... so here's the line graph of weekly averages:

Friday, July 1, 2011

True Strength: Viewing Levels 102-2 - How Non-TV Events Affect Viewing

Last time, we looked at how big "TV Events" tend to drive up viewing by a sort of somewhat reliable percentage of their rating. This time, we're going to take a look at the other thing that impacts TV viewing levels: "Non-TV Events." These are external factors out in the (gasp!) "real world" that cause fewer people to watch TV. (I suppose some external factors like nationwide bad weather would actually drive up viewing, but I'm not sophisticated enough to be able to tackle that one just yet.)

These are particularly tough to tackle because of the "self-fulfilling prophecy" I mentioned a couple posts back: fewer people watch, so the networks make less and less of an effort to put big-rated programming in the low-viewing periods, so even fewer people watch. It's a vicious circle. It makes things a little more complicated than it is for the "TV Events" we just looked at. Viewing goes up for the Super Bowl mostly because... people are watching the Super Bowl. However, there's not one huge thing we can point to on the weekends.

Spotted Ratings, Thursday 6/23/11 & 6/30/11

  • ABC premiered an all-new Thursday on June 23. While the results were somewhat promising on premiere night, all three shows dropped in week two as the 4th of July weekend nears. Wipeout (2.4 on June 23, 1.9 on June 30) was already close to its disappointing Tuesday numbers last night, Expedition Impossible (2.4 on June 23, 1.8 on June 30) started nicely but dropped 25% in week two and Rookie Blue (1.6 on June 23, 1.4 on June 30) is already below all but its last couple results from last summer.
  • Elsewhere in the original world, So You Think You Can Dance (2.0 on June 23, 1.8 on June 30) continues to struggle on Thursday, with the latter result tying its worst summer rating ever, while NBC burnoff Love Bites (0.8 on June 23, 0.7 on June 30) continues to at least be on the schedule, but certainly not successfully. The Thursday standout among repeaters remains The Big Bang Theory (1.8 on June 23, 1.5 on June 30).

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