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 and Friday in 2016.

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. The series low is a 0.8, set twice during the 2016 season when it regularly aired on Friday for the first time.

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 has finally started to take a noticeable toll in recent seasons.

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 2010Tue 8:00, Tue 9:002.97-12%2.53.3detail
8Fall 2010Wed 8:00, Wed 9:002.772.23.4detail
9Summer 2011Mon 8:00, Mon 9:002.64-11%2.42.9detailB-
Tuesday 8:002.652.52.8
10Summer 2012Monday 8:002.57-3%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 2016Fri 9:00, Wed 9:001.12-8%0.81.5detailB-

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

1Summer 200584solid(sum)1.227110879108
2Summer 200688solid(sum)1.28+5%6911169111
3Summer 2007105big hit(sum)1.54+20%9311998119
6Summer 2009113big hit(sum)1.64-20%9312693126
7Summer 2010106big hit(sum)1.54-6%89117103117
8Fall 2010109solid1.5987134102102
9Summer 2011104hit(sum)1.51-2%9411498102
10Summer 2012109big hit(sum)1.59+5%102123102106
13Fall 201480marginal1.1665898977
14Spring 201573marginal1.06-18%65838365
15Winter 201677marginal1.12+6%551037669

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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