Monday, November 7, 2011

September/October 2011 Cable Ratings Guide, Part 1 (Late Summer)

In addition to the weekly Ratings Five-Spot, I'll also be doing my monthly epic guide to cable ratings over at SpoilerTV. It's a good fit because 1) these don't really "connect" with most of the other largely broadcast-focused stuff I do here at the blog and 2) they take a ton of time to do (much more than virtually anything else here), so I'm excited about the opportunity to give them the maximum possible audience.

Since I didn't get around to one for September (too much going on with broadcast and not enough on cable), this one will cover almost two full months. It became obvious that it was going to be covering a combination of tail ends of summer seasons and beginnings of fall seasons. I kind of want to start the SpoilerTV era "fresh," so I'm splitting this edition in two. This part will just wrap up the summer seasons that hadn't ended when I did the last one back in early September (see the last edition for more summer seasons that had wrapped up), and the SpoilerTV part going up hopefully later today will look at stuff that premiered in the fall.

Just to reiterate my disclaimer once more: I use A18-49 ratings because of availability and because they're a reasonable way of making comparisons across networks, but be advised that it is not necessarily the be-all-end-all number it is on broadcast, and not all of these networks target that demographic specifically.

Without further ado, here's the Late Summer part, with the Early Fall part going on STV later today. EDIT: not making a separate post, but here it is!

The Lying Game: ABC Family's late-summer drama appeared basically DOA when it scored a 0.5 demo on August 15. But then it held that 0.5 for its next three weeks, dropped to an 0.4 for the next three weeks (after its move to 8/7c and away from the Secret Life of the American Teenager lead-in), then perked back up to an 0.5 for its last three weeks. Holding up that well from the premiere is nice, and it's returning in January, but it's still a far cry ratings-wise from ABC Family's "big three" of Secret Life, Pretty Little Liars and Switched at Birth.

Melissa & Joey: Most of Melissa & Joey's summer season fluctuated between a 0.4 and 0.5 demo, but the show seriously perked up for its one-hour finale on September 13, posting over 1.3 million viewers and a 0.7 demo. That's not terribly meaningful since the show still has a second season ahead, but I'd feel much better about its long-term future if it could get those 0.7's more often.

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 came back down to earth and pulled a 0.7 or 0.8 most weeks. That was still a higher level than last season, and it spiked up to a 1.0 for the finale. Overall, the season averaged a 0.81 demo, 24% higher than season three, and the show has quietly outgrown some of the "award-winning shows that nobody watch" memes and become a reasonably respectably-rated cable drama. The ratings don't matter too much, as it's scored one final 16-episode renewal after some rather public negotiations.

True Blood: Following the Labor Day hiccup mentioned last time, the show didn't recover to the extent you might have hoped, pulling a below-average 2.8 demo for the September 11 finale. The season as a whole averaged a 2.73 demo, down 4% from last year. That's pretty solid considering the episodes that got slammed over the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends.

Curb Your Enthusiasm: The season finale of Curb Your Enthusiasm also bounced back after its week Labor Day weekend ratings, pulling an above-average 1.0 demo on finale night.

Entourage: The  final season of Entourage spiked to a season-high 1.6 demo for its September 11 series finale, but the season as a whole was still down significantly from its first couple post-True Blood seasons. The overall average was 1.34, 15% behind last summer's 1.58.

Project Runway (Lifetime): Project Runway's season just ended a couple weeks ago, but it was not a positive one for the show. It started out even year-to-year or a little up in the opening few weeks, but it never caught on the way many Runway seasons do. By the end, it averaged just a 1.07 demo, down 18% from last year.

Drop Dead Diva (Lifetime): It also ended up a down season for Drop Dead Diva, but not nearly to the same extent as for Runway. The 0.73 average was down 9% from the summer 2010 campaign. Considering how weak their scripted development has been lately, that was more than good enough for Lifetime to bring it back for a fourth season in summer 2012.

Against the Wall (Lifetime): As I said in the last edition, Against the Wall was certainly not a disaster on the level of Lifetime's other new 2011 drama The Protector, but it hasn't exactly been a Drop Dead Diva or Army Wives either. It posted mostly 0.4 demos in the weeks after lead-in Drop Dead Diva finished its season and overall averaged a 0.46 demo. We're now a couple weeks removed from its October 23 finale and there's still no word on a season two or a cancellation.

Teen Mom: Teen Mom remains one of cable's strongest shows in adults 18-49 and is even stronger in MTV's target young female demos. It averaged a 1.92 for the full season, which was down about 10% from the summer/fall 2010 season (easily the peak of the show to date).

Awkward: In late August and into September, Awkward became a bonafide success for MTV, growing from its 0.8 premiere as high as a 1.3 demo on September 13 and then posting a 1.2 in each of its last two weeks. Overall, the season averaged a 1.02 demo.

Jersey Shore: It's worth wondering, as I have, whether we are finally past the peak of the Jersey Shore phenomenon. After all, season four's 3.93 demo average was down from season three's 4.14 average. But I'll hold off on declaring an official downswing till we see a season that's actually down from the corresponding year-ago season. Comparing with last summer's ratings, the Shore was still up by 34%! And, of course, it's still one of the biggest shows on TV, broadcast or cable. After posting some mid-4 demos in August, Jersey Shore dropped a bit in the back half of the season as the broadcast competition filed in.

Eureka: This summer's season of Eureka (airing on Monday at 8/7c for the first time) averaged a 0.70 demo, down just a touch from the 0.73 average in its final Friday season. It's still got one last 13-episode season to come.

Warehouse 13: Warehouse 13 finished its third season with a 0.76 demo average, down by 6% from last summer's average. That's a little misleading, though, because this average got killed on some level by airing three hours against full-fledged regular season competition and four hours against Monday Night Football. For most of the season, Warehouse 13 was about even with last year. Overall, a pretty solid year.

Alphas: The newbie of Syfy's Powerful Mondays suffered late in the season just like Warehouse 13, managing just a 0.5 demo in its last three episodes (after Monday Night Football arrived). The show was mostly the weak link of the three-hour Monday lineup on Syfy, averaging a 0.67 demo for the season, but it scored a second-season renewal.

Haven: The early-September episodes of Haven perked up from the show's usual 0.5 level to a 0.6, then the show dropped back to a 0.5 in its last couple after all the broadcast competition returned. Overall, season two averaged a 0.52 demo, exactly even with its first season, and it scored a third season.

The Closer: We had everything but the finale numbers for The Closer in the last edition. Unfortunately, the finale got killed against the season premiere of Monday Night Football, posting a season low 1.0 demo. That left the summer 2011 average at a mere 1.19 demo, down 14% from last summer's ratings.

Rizzoli & Isles: As I said last time, it's nice to build on The Closer, and Rizzoli & Isles did that for much of its sophomore season, including on the September 12 finale night (1.1 demo). But it was still undeniably a pretty big sophomore slump for the show as it averaged just a 1.23 demo and dropped 16% of its rookie season demo.

Necessary Roughness (USA): This show has scored a second season since last I wrote about it, and I think it deserved it; it posted a 1.1 demo (tying a season low) in its first episode without the Royal Pains lead-in, but then it perked back up to its relatively typical 1.2 for the September 14 finale. The season overall averaged a 1.23 demo. That made it one of USA's weaker dramas this summer (on par with the two Tuesday dramas White Collar and Covert Affairs), but the pack is relatively bunched together on this network, and this show was a legitimate part of that pack.

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