Monday, September 12, 2011

August/Early September 2011 Cable Ratings Guide

It's time for the third edition of my monthly cable ratings guide! I had planned to usually do this on the first Monday of the month, but there were so many finales in that first full week of September that I just decided to wait a week so I'd have more full seasons to talk about. As always, I'll reiterate that I primarily talk about adults 18-49 ratings below even though some of these networks may not particularly target 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.

Expect lots of new blood in the next edition of the cable guide, as lots of summer finales are discussed here!

The Secret Life of the American Teenager: Secret Life has been quite consistent at about a 1.1 demo and spiked to a 1.4 in its finale last week. Said finale marked the 24th (and final) consecutive week there was a new episode of Secret Life, a really abnormal streak for a primetime scripted show. The 1.14 average for the summer season (which technically started on June 6) was down 3% from last year.

Switched at Birth: The last post had Switched at Birth's season nearly over; it turned in a 1.2 and a 1.3 in its last two episodes and received a renewal for 22 additional episodes. (All of them count as part of season one, making the season 34 episodes!) Overall, the first summer run averaged a 1.11 demo and (per ABC Family) a 2.5 rating in women 18-34 and a 3.2 females 12-34. This show has done significantly better than just about any other Secret Life lead-out, including...

The Lying Game: ABC Family's late-summer drama appeared basically DOA when it scored a 0.5 demo on August 15. It's since managed to hold that 0.5 in each of its three subsequent weeks, but I have my doubts that will be enough for a long-term future. We may get a better sense tonight as it airs without the Secret Life lead-in for the first time.

Pretty Little Liars: PLL actually dropped down to a 0.8 demo on a couple occasions late in its summer run (slightly down year-to-year), but it made a nice rally to a 1.0 in its penultimate episode and then a 1.2 for the finale. This summer's run averaged a 0.97 demo, up a bit from last summer's 0.92.

The Nine Lives of Chloe King: After seemingly steadying at a very modest 0.4, the last four episodes of Chloe King went 0.3 -> 0.3 -> 0.4 -> 0.3. Unless it stealthily does really well in the targeted female demos, I don't think there'll be even a second life for Chloe King.

Melissa & Joey: ABC Family has started double-pumping this show after it's become obvious State of Georgia is an even bigger flop. Basically, Melissa & Joey seems to fluctuate between a 0.4 and 0.5 demo. Is that enough to sustain a multicamera comedy on a network that's otherwise really struggled with the genre? I'm not 100% sure either way.

State of Georgia: I am pretty sure State of Georgia's ratings are not sustainable. Like Melissa & Joey, it fluctuates a bit, but at a much lower level: usually between a 0.2 and a 0.3. ABC Family's been unloading episodes in bunches and rather sporadically. That's not a good sign.

Storage Wars: It's come down a bit from the 2.0 & 2.2 of premiere night, but only a bit. Storage Wars is still averaging close to a 2.0 demo and is a cable beast. A&E unspools spinoff Storage Wars: Dallas later this month.

The Glades: The whole of season two averaged a 0.72 demo. That's down a notch from the 0.78 average for of season one. But the show's last few weeks were about on par with last season. There's no season three renewal yet, but I'm predicting (if not with huge confidence) that there will be one.

Breaking Bad (AMC): Since its impressive first couple weeks (with the 1.1 premiere on July 17 its highest rating ever and the 0.9 second episode its strongest second ep ever), Breaking Bad has come back down to earth and now pulls a 0.7 or 0.8 most weeks. It still seems to have settled at a slightly higher level than last season (which mostly got between a 0.6 and 0.7). The ratings don't matter too much, as it's scored one final 16-episode renewal after some rather public negotiations.

Futurama (Comedy Central): Futurama has typically pulled a 0.7 or 0.8 down the stretch of the second season of its Comedy Central revival. That's down from the end of the first season, which was usually in the 1.0 vicinity. Overall, this summer's season averaged a 0.80 demo.

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 picked up from that sluggish 1.2 demo start and were about even year-to-year (in the mid-1's) in recent episodes. The finale (which aired on a special night last Monday) pulled a 1.8, down four tenths from last year. Overall, the season averaged a 1.56 demo, down 13% year-to-year.

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 (building as high as a 1.4 for the August 14 finale), they're still down quite a bit from last year because this show typically builds over the course of the season anyway. The season averaged a 1.00 demo, down a stout 26% from last year, but they're still good ratings for Food Network.

Sons of Anarchy: One of the first of the fall premieres, Sons was particularly impressive in kicking off season four on September 6. Its 2.5 demo was a series high and up 19% from last season's premiere.

Rescue Me: This show spent most of its final season milling around at about a 0.6 demo, but the series finale (five days before the tenth anniversary of the tragedy on which this show was based) woke up with a 1.0.

Wilfred : 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 basically floated around in the general vicinity of a 0.7 after that. Its finale got killed against the NFL opener (pulling an 0.4 demo), but the season averaged a 0.74 overall. It's been renewed for season two.

Louie: The year-to-year comparisons are tough since Louie mostly aired out of primetime last season and many of those numbers weren't available. The back half of the season usually pulled a 0.4 demo but occasionally jumped up to a 0.6. Retention out of Wilfred wasn't very good, but considering the prestige and the reported dirt-cheapness of the show, it got renewed for a third season. The season averaged a 0.50 demo overall.

True Blood: Since the Fourth of July hiccup mentioned last time, the dominant force of Sunday night television has close to even year-to-year, as it lingers in the general vicinity of a 3.0 demo. We did learn why they took Labor Day weekend off last year, and perhaps they should have this year; the show pulled just a 2.4 demo on September 4.

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Basically in the same general vicinity as last time, though it took a similar Labor Day hit to True Blood's (pulling an 0.6).

Entourage: Again excepting the Labor Day struggles (it got a 1.0 on September 4), this show's been averaging between a 1.3 and 1.4 demo and building significantly out of Curb in its final season. The series finale was last night, so we don't have those numbers yet.

American Pickers (History): See June.

Pawn Stars (History): See June.

Project Runway (Lifetime): Runway was even year-to-year in its July 28 premiere and actually slightly up in week two, but since then it's failed to pick up as much steam as the last season did. Through seven episodes, its 1.14 demo average is down 13% from last year's first seven.

Drop Dead Diva (Lifetime): Since its strong 1.0 premiere, Drop Dead Diva has remained in the 0.7/0.8 range ever since, leaving it close to even year-to-year. It did pick up a bit on the tail end of last season, so we'll see if that happens in the last couple eps of this season.

Against the Wall (Lifetime): While Against the Wall has not been as big a disaster as previous Sunday 10/9c offering The Protector, it hasn't been a breakout hit either. Its first six episodes have averaged a 0.50 demo, but it hit a 0.6 for the first time in its last non-Labor Day airing on August 28, so there has been a little bit of growth.

Teen Wolf: As noted last month, this show's did well by MTV scripted standards after some early inconsistent results. It bounced around a bit, but overall season one averaged a 0.68 demo, and it'll be back for season two.

Teen Mom: Teen Mom remains one of cable's strongest shows in adults 18-49 and got a little stronger in August and early September. It's now averaging a 1.93 demo through ten episodes, down just 2% from last summer's first ten.

Awkward: Getting on my radar this month was the well-reviewed scripted Teen Mom lead-out Awkward, which milled around in the upper 0's early in its run before surging past the 1.0 plateau in its last three weeks. Yes, it has a huge lead-in, but this grower is one to keep an eye on.

Jersey Shore: The Shore is back and dominating all of TV in the late summer. Perhaps the through-the-roof growth has finally stopped; its 4.17 average through six episodes is a little down from the first six of last winter's season three. But it's still up almost 50% on last summer's first six. So dominant is this show in the summer landscape that the 11:00 Jersey Shore encores are often cable's second-strongest show on Thursday.

Eureka: Most of the buzz on Eureka has surrounded Syfy's decision to end the show and renege on its long-term renewal. Meanwhile, the August ratings have been pretty boring, turning in a very consistent 0.7 demo in each of its last five airings. That's just a tiny bit weaker than this time last summer (when it fluctuated between 0.7 and 0.8). The show still has another 13-episode season to come after this one wraps up.

Warehouse 13: This remains Syfy's strongest scripted effort, typically building on Eureka and fluctuating between an 0.8 and 0.9 demo. Its 0.84 average through eight episodes is actually up 3% from last season's first eight.

Alphas: The newbie of Syfy's Powerful Mondays started well but has pulled kind of mediocre ratings in the 10/9c hour since then. It's averaging a 0.72 demo through eight episodes and recently loses a couple ticks from its Warehouse 13 lead-in. Could be much better, though I think Syfy will give this one another whirl EDIT (9/13/11): Proving it's impossible to unplug from the Internet for four days and then catch up on every bit of news, it seems I missed that Alphas got renewed last week!

Haven: Haven is yet another amazingly consistent Syfy scripted show, averaging exactly a 0.50 demo and pulling that 0.5 in six of its eight episodes this season. (The only 0.4 came last Friday as it didn't have an original Smackdown! lead-in.) It basically pulled about a 0.5 last season as well when it had Eureka for a lead-in, so I'd lean slightly toward another renewal for this one.

WWE Smackdown!: Smackdown! picked back up in August, getting back to the 0.9 demo level on a couple occasions (numbers unseen since April). It also aired a special Tuesday edition on August 30 and pulled a 1.1 demo, marking its highest ratings yet on Syfy. That might add some fuel to those rumors that Syfy is considering a Smackdown! move to Tuesday.

The Closer: It remains a somewhat underwhelming season for The Closer as it rolls toward the end; the 1.21 average through nine episodes is down 12% from last year's first nine. The season finale is tonight, then it returns for a final six eps next summer.

Rizzoli & Isles: Building on The Closer is a nice achievement, and Rizzoli & Isles has continued to do that frequently in its second season. However, it's followed its lead-in in taking double-digit drops this summer. The 1.24 average through nine episodes (with the finale tonight) is down 15% from last year's first nine.

Memphis Beat: While the Monday dramas have had a bit of a disappointing summer on TNT, the real problem has come on Tuesday. Memphis Beat finished the season with a 0.66 demo average, down a large 22% year-to-year. The biggest positive is that it finished well with a season-high 0.8 on August 16. And its fate for season three remains up in the air, which is more than we can say for...

Hawthorne: the Jada Pinkett-Smith drama has already gotten the axe. It averaged a 0.69 demo, still a touch better than Memphis Beat, but it had a lot fewer total viewers. It also dropped a touch more year-to-year, down 24% overall from last summer's 0.91 average.

Franklin & Bash: I believe we had all the data except for the finale last time, so I'll just throw in that the finale got a 0.8 demo, the season as a whole finished with a 0.85 average, and it secured a renewal.

Leverage: After bouncing around a lot in the first half of the season, Leverage eventually stabilized in the same 0.9-1.0 range that it's remarkably been pulling for pretty much its entire run. The season overall averaged a 0.91 demo, down about 5% from last year.

Falling Skies: I noted last time this show started big (2.0 demo), dropped big and stabilized in the mid-1's. That was basically the story up until the August 7 finale, when the show surged nearly back to premiere levels (1.9) for each of its two hours. That's a pretty impressive performance, and the 1.64 demo average put it well ahead of the Monday dramas as TNT's new biggest hit. It returns next summer for another ten episodes.

Hot In Cleveland (TV Land): See last time. Finished with a 0.50 average this summer.

Happily Divorced (TV Land): Again, see last time as the story didn't change much. Finished with a 0.42 average this summer.

WWE Raw: See June.

White Collar: In what what mostly a down summer for USA drama, White Collar was perhaps the most impressive, dropping just 3% year-to-year to a 1.22 demo average. It also picked up late in the summer, scoring a 1.3 in the penultimate episode and a 1.5 for the August 9 finale.

Covert Affairs: Have noted in previous editions that this had a really down summer, but (like White Collar) it finished strongly, including tying a season high with a 1.4 for the August 9 finale. Overall, though, its 1.23 demo average was down 22% from its breakout first season.

Royal Pains: Royal Pains finished its third summer with a 1.46 demo average. That's down 11% from last summer but still a solid performance considering it aired without the Burn Notice lead-in for the first time (in the summer). The medical show actually ended up beating out Burn Notice and Suits to finish as USA's highest-rated drama in the demo this summer.

Necessary Roughness: This program has been relatively steady at decent but unspectacular levels all summer, averaging a 1.23 demo through its first eleven eps. It dropped one tick week-to-week (to a 1.1) in its first episode without the Royal Pains lead-in last week, a fairly decent showing, and I'd expect (though am not 100% sure on) a renewal.

Burn Notice: As of the last one of these, Burn Notice was on track (though just barely) for another summer as USA's biggest drama. That didn't come to fruition as the show sort of fizzled down the stretch, actually getting as low as a 1.1 demo on September 1 (its lowest number since the opening weeks of the series). Overall, the season averaged a 1.38 demo and was down 18% from last summer.

Suits: Like Burn Notice, Suits struggled a bit down the stretch of its season. It had a much more tangible excuse in the arrival of Jersey Shore to the timeslot. Still, its 1.32 demo average made it USA's third-strongest drama, and its renewal for next summer is already secure.

In Plain Sight: See last time. Averaged a 0.93 demo for the summer. Its fifth season in spring 2012 will be its last.

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