Monday, August 1, 2011

July 2011 Cable Ratings Guide

I put one of these up in mid-June as a "Summer Cable Ratings Guide," but I think I'm going to make an effort to do one of these each month throughout the year. I'll shoot for the first Monday of each month. I'll reiterate that I primarily talk about adults 18-49 ratings below even though some of these networks may not particularly care about that demo. The main reason I use them anyway is because of accessibility, though it also helps put everything on an apples-to-apples basis.

The Secret Life of the American Teenager: Throw out the huge two-week start discussed last time and the huge drop on the Fourth of July (why were they airing an original then?) and you have a show that's basically steady at about a 1.1 or 1.2, down just a little bit from the corresponding episodes last year.

Switched at Birth: After its really good start by ABC Family standards, it looked like Switched at Birth had settled down at around a still-great-for-ABC Family 1.0 A18-49. Then came the big bombshell on July 18 and the spike to a 1.3 on July 25, tying the series high. This one has been pretty impressive, and renewal is a formality.

Pretty Little Liars:I wondered if Pretty Little Liars would drop big from the premiere. It did, going from a 1.3 demo on premiere night to a 1.0 in week two. After one more 1.0, it's then posted a 0.9 in its last four airings. That means the show is up about 10% vs. last summer's first seven episodes (0.99 vs. 0.90). I think you could've reasonably expected even better considering how well the winter season began, but growth is growth is growth!

The Nine Lives of Chloe King: The last post on Chloe King came with only the premiere data. I was pessimistic then, and it's only gotten worse since. That 0.7 on premiere night plummeted to a 0.4 in week two, and it's averaged a 0.4 since then. Last week, it was a full demo point behind Switched at Birth! I'm pretty sure this one is dead.

Melissa & Joey: The trajectory for Melissa & Joey in season one wasn't particularly good, starting out with a 1.0 demo and ending up mostly in the mid-0's by season's end. This summer, the show premiered OK at best with a 0.6 demo, then it's dropped to a 0.4 for each of the four subsequent eps. That's down a whooping 48% from last season's first five. It's weaker than most of its network's dramas, but the only real consolation is that it remains a little stronger than most of ABC Family's comedy efforts, from recently axed 10 Things I Hate About You to...

State of Georgia: I really thought this show had a chance considering how well That's So Raven used to do (even in repeats long after it ended) for Disney Channel. Raven-Symone's ABC Family sitcom premiered decently, with its 0.6 demo holding just about all of the Melissa & Joey audience, but week two brought a huge drop to a 0.3, and since then it's been fluctuating between a 0.3 and a 0.2. That probably isn't gonna be good enough.

Storage Wars: A&E's Storage Wars premiered in early December to right around a 1.0 demo but had built into something really impressive by the end of its early 2011 run, mostly getting mid-1's. As with many shows, the hype kicked up to another level between seasons one and two as A&E reran it a lot, and the first two episodes of the new season on 7/20/11 scored a huge 2.0 and a 2.2. Week two came down to earth a bit, each scoring 1.7, but 1.7 was still higher than anything from season one. Look for this show to continue easily outshining A&E's scripted efforts.

The Glades: After starting with identical demos to last year's first two weeks, The Glades has since dipped a little below the corresponding season one levels; its 0.7 demos the last three weeks are a little below the typical 0.8 or so at this time in season one. The ratings are pretty similar demo-wise to recently renewed Breakout Kings, so I think this one is on track for a renewal as well.

Breaking Bad: The best show on TV returned with best-ever ratings, scoring a 1.1 demo in its July 17 premiere. The 0.9 demo in week two was then its best week two ever. So while it's still not even halfway to The Walking Dead's first season ratings, it seems to pretty squarely sit atop the "best of the rest on AMC" heap.

The Killing: For all the backlash the June 19 finale of The Killing received creatively, the ratings were pretty good, as it spiked from its typical 0.5 demo level up to a 0.7. The 2.3 million viewers were its highest audience since week three.

Futurama: The second season of the Futurama revival on Comedy Central is usually down a couple ticks from the first, seemingly having settled at around a 0.7 demo. The 1.1 demo for the one-hour premiere was way down from last year's 1.6/1.5.

Tosh.0: In adults 18-49, Tosh.0 has dropped from upper-1's at the beginning of the summer to more like mid-1's, and the show's now only up a little bit year-to-year (as opposed to the 50%+ gains early in the summer), but overall, that's still good stuff.

Deadliest Catch (Discovery): The first half of Deadliest Catch's season was basically about even year-to-year, as discussed last time. The second half? Nowhere close, because the show couldn't possibly keep up with the tremendous ratings pulled surrounding the death of Captain Phil last year. But the show remains a very solid option, averaging a 1.57 A18-49 rating for the full season, down 22% year-to-year.

Keeping Up with the Kardashians (E!): Though the year-to-year drops looked ugly out of the gate (the June 12 premiere was down 52% year-to-year!), the Kardashians have since picked up from that sluggish 1.2 demo start and been about even year-to-year (in the mid-1's) in recent episodes. However, last season really picked up again starting around this point, and I'm not sure I see this one following suit.

The Next Food Network Star (Food): This show opened season two in early June way down year-to-year (0.8 demo vs. last year's 1.1 premiere) and while the ratings have improved since then (including a season high 1.2 last week), they're still down quite a bit from last year because this show typically builds over the course of the season anyway. But they're still solid ratings for Food Network.

Wilfred (FX): Wilfred's premiere on June 23 set all kinds of records for FX comedy, including its 18-49 demo (1.2). It dropped worryingly in the next two weeks (1.0, 0.7) but has since bounced back a bit and got to its highest number since week two with a 0.9. Considering the ratings for other FX comedies not named It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, I'd say this one is a cinch for renewal.

Louie (FX): The year-to-year comparisons are tough since Louie mostly aired out of primetime last season and many of those numbers weren't available. But the show's 0.8 premiere on June 23 was a series high, and it's since dropped down toward 0.5 or a little higher most of the time. Retention out of Wilfred isn't very good, but considering the prestige and the reported dirt-cheapness of the show, I'll say another season is likely.

Game of Thrones: I had most of Game of Thrones' run covered last time; the only big thing to add is that it increased to a series high 1.4 demo for its June 19 finale.

True Blood: Boy, the Fourth of July weekend bites for TV ratings. And the biggest oddity by far was the enormous week two drop from True Blood, down from its huge 3.0 demo premiere on June 26 to just a 1.5 on July 3. (The show being on HBO GO may have also had an impact.) Since then, though, True Blood's right back on track, going 2.8 -> 2.7 -> 2.8 in its last three weeks. Throwing out that ridiculous week two, the dominant force of Sunday night television is up year-to-year; will that continue into the second half of the season when the show hit its series high levels last year?

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Curb is really feeling the power of having one of cable's very biggest lead-ins, as it's having one of its strongest seasons to date. the first three episodes have gone 0.9 -> 0.8 -> 1.0.

Entourage: Last season, despite Hung airing directly out of the hugely-rated True Blood, Entourage would often build on the Hung demo at 10:30. It looks like Entourage is going to make similar (if not bigger) gains on Curb Your Enthusiasm, as its final season premiered last week to a 1.4 demo, building big out of Curb's 1.0.

American Pickers: See last time.

Pawn Stars: See last time.

Swamp People: In season two, History's rising star mostly rated right around that 1.7 it posted in its June 9 move to 9/8c. Then came the finale and a huge spike to a 2.2 demo, breaking through that 2.0 ceiling that I think usually means you're a bonafide cable hit. Overall, season two was up 29% from season one, and the finale was up an awesome 69%.

Drop Dead Diva (Lifetime): It was a solid season three premiere for Drop Dead Diva, with the 2.9 million viewers and 1.0 demo about level with its previous two season premieres. It's dropped into the 0.7/0.8 range in four airings since then, which is where it spent most of season two.

Teen Wolf (MTV): I wasn't sure what to make of the early results, but this show has since held up surprisingly well, posting right around a 0.7 A18-49 almost every week. By MTV scripted standards, this is quite good, and a season two renewal's been granted.

Teen Mom (MTV): Teen Mom remains one of cable's strongest shows in adults 18-49, and its 1.85 average through four episodes this summer is up 7% from last summer.

Eureka: In the fairly thankless role leading off the three-hour Monday night at 8/7c, Eureka has gone 0.7 -> 0.8 -> 0.6, each week being the lowest-rated (or tied for lowest-rated) program of the three-hour block. But it's still doing all right. It's even with last year's first three episodes on Friday.

Warehouse 13: For a show that's typically premiered well and then dropped off, Warehouse 13 has done it a little different this year. The 0.8 premiere was two-tenths below its other two season premieres, but it's since posted a 0.9 and 0.8. That leaves it even with last year's first three episodes on Tuesday.

Alphas: The newbie of Syfy's Powerful Mondays started quite well, with its 0.9 A18-49 rating building by a tick on Warehouse 13. But it's lost a tenth in each of its two weeks since then, leaving it at a 0.7 last week. Still need more data to see if it stabilizes, but a 0.7 would still be just fine on Syfy.

Haven: Season two of Haven got the big Smackdown! lead-in on Friday nights and has posted a couple 0.5 demos in its first two airings. Those are both down from the first two airings of season one (which led out of Eureka) but basically level with everything after that. I think it could stick around if it sticks at that number.

WWE Smackdown!: Smackdown! has dropped even farther since the last update, posting a couple 0.7 demos in late June and then a couple rather ugly 0.6s (mixed in with a couple 0.8s) in its last four airings.

The Closer: As TNT's flagship drama nears the end, its final season has started off on a pretty modest note, premiering to a 1.4 demo and posting a couple 1.1s since. That's down about 10% year-to-year.

Rizzoli & Isles: Like Covert Affairs below, there seems a bit of a sophomore slump in Closer heir apparent Rizzoli & Isles, with the first three results (1.2 -> 1.2 -> 1.1) of season two all below anything from season one and down 20%+ year-to-year. Also like Covert Affairs, it had a long way to drop to get into the danger zone, and it's nowhere close yet. But this can probably be labeled a bit of a disappointment.

Memphis Beat: The Jason Lee-led drama has been one of several Tuesday dramas significantly down from last year; the first seven are averaging just a 0.63 demo thus far. That's down 22% from the first seven of last season. It would seem a bubble show at best right now for TNT.

Hawthorne: Like last year, the best think you can say about Hawthorne is that it's a little stronger than Memphis Beat (0.69 average thus far vs. Beat's 0.63). But its 19% drop from last year's first seven is similar and not anything to brag about. I'd put it a little ahead of Beat in terms of renewal probability, but it's far from a slam dunk.

Franklin & Bash: I remarked last time about TNT's promotional blitz for this show, which makes it a little surprising that this was a show that premiered modestly and then held up really well. It premiered to a 0.9 demo and has averaged a 0.86 overall. That's noticeably better than the Tuesday dramas and about on par with Leverage, and the show's already scored a second season renewal.

Men of a Certain Age: As I said last time, this show didn't have ratings worthy of a renewal, and TNT's since announced that there will be no renewal. It scored a 0.4 A18-49 in five of the six episodes in its final run.

Leverage: Much like in the second half of last season, this show's ratings seem to bounce around a lot. Ratings track for season four is as follows: 1.0 -> 0.7 -> 0.8 -> 1.1 -> 0.8. Make of that what you will, but overall it's down 8% from last season's first five episodes. Even the low end of that bounciness seems pretty renewable, though; it's doing way better than the Tuesday shows, for example.

Falling Skies: As predicted back in Summer Matchups, this show is a true contendah in the Sunday 10:00 hour. Its 2.0 A18-49 start looked quite nice, its drop to a 1.5 in week two was a bit troubling, but in week three it dropped just one more tick to a 1.4 and it's been stuck on that number for the last four weeks. Yes, that makes it TNT's strongest show in 18-49 (though it likely still trails ancient-skewing Closer and Rizzoli & Isles in their target 25-54). Season two renewal is already secured.

Hot In Cleveland (TV Land): Steady right around the 0.5 demo it premiered with back in mid-June, and still way down year-to-year (42% through seven episodes), but still "good for TV Land," and still the highest-rated sitcom they've had. It's also doing a little better than the back half of the winter run, which mostly pulled 0.4's.

Happily Divorced (TV Land): Following its 0.5 premiere, Happily Divorced ticked down to a 0.4 in week two and has basically stuck on that number for most of its subsequent episodes. It's a little weaker than Hot In Cleveland has been this summer but a little stronger than the winter run of Retired at 35, and a season two is already in the bank for this one.

WWE Raw: See last time.

White Collar: The only Tuesday drama on the two big cable networks that isn't wayyy down from last year is White Collar. Its 1.17 average through eight episodes to date is down just 5% from last year. It's still one of the weakest originals on USA, but it's a little closer to the pack now.

Covert Affairs: The biggest of the Tuesday drama droppers remains USA's Covert Affairs, whose 1.21 demo to date is down a stout 26% from last summer's first eight. It may be the biggest dropper of those dramas, but it's also still the highest-rated, so I'm guessing it's pretty safe. But within its own network, this breakout hit of last year is now being outshone by everything on Wednesday and Thursday.

Royal Pains: Royal Pains spent its first two summers benefiting from a great pairing with Burn Notice, so 2011 has marked the show's first summer on its own. Its 1.42 average to date is down 15% from last summer's first five, but we can probably blame most of that on the loss of the big lead-in. The show's also doing a lot better than its early 2011 winter run. I know USA loves and has good reasons for the split seasons, but maybe this is one show that just plain belongs in the summer?

Necessary Roughness: While Necessary Roughness hasn't been a big hit out of the box (and is much weaker than last summer's freshman run for Covert Affairs), it's still doing pretty good retention out of Royal Pains, averaging a 1.25 demo thus far. If Fairly Legal could score a renewal mostly scoring below a 1.0, I'd expect this one to stick around.

Burn Notice: Burn Notice seems clearly past its ratings peak for USA, with its 1.45 demo average to date down 15% from last summer's 1.71 through six episodes. The days of 2.0+ demos appear to be gone. But it's still USA's top drama (though just barely ahead of Royal Pains and Suits) and one of the strongest on basic cable.

Suits: I think both of USA's new shows are headed for a renewal (what else is new?) but the one I'm most confident of is Suits. The show premiered to a 1.6 demo on 6/23/11 and overall has averaged a 1.40 through six eps. That means it's retaining about 97% of the Burn Notice demo on average, and last week it built on Burn in the demo for the first time.

Law & Order: Criminal Intent: More on this season for the War of 18-49 next week, but the final season of CI was up double-digits from the one full season without Goren and Eames, though it didn't quite live up to the promise of the huge season premiere. Its last couple episodes scored a 0.9 A18-49 rating.

In Plain Sight: Still getting a little over a 0.9 A18-49 on average. Its ratings have actually improved a little bit since losing the Criminal Intent lead-in, and the show is (like Criminal Intent) solidly up from last season and seems to be deserving of what I thought was a fairly questionable renewal last year. Sunday seems good to this show.

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