This will probably not be something I regularly schedule around here, just something I'll do whenever I notice some stuff. But as I've started working with the True Strength numbers in more of a real-time environment (as opposed to last summer when I was looking back on the whole of the season), I've started noticing some things that I feel I need to mention but that don't seem to fit too organically in the other posts I do. Some of this stuff is about the True Strength metric itself and some is ratings stuff it illuminates. All of it may be incomprehensible, but I'm mostly just taking notes for myself, and if anyone else finds it interesting, neat! Here goes:
CBS got bad news out of the series premiere of How to Be a Gentleman, which dropped almost 50% of its 8:00 Big Bang Theory lead-in on premiere night. That made it much weaker than the premiere of $#*! My Dad Says (4.0) last year during premiere week, and in fact the show didn't even manage $#*!'s average rating from last year (2.97). The show was a little stronger than Rules of Engagement's spring average in the timeslot (2.50), though those ratings came with lower viewing, more competition (American Idol) and smaller lead-ins. Very weak start.
The news was only slightly less bad for CBS at 9:00, where Person of Interest, dropped a reasonable enough 13% from last week considering its huge lead-in decline. However, the show remains behind many of its fairly lofty expectations and pretty low on the CBS totem pole.
The other new shows took even bigger declines. Prime Suspect remained barely ahead of Monday's The Playboy Club in the NBC don't-get-cancelled race, but it's certainly not looking good for this show either. Whitney dropped a disheartening 24% from last week, though it did have a weaker Office lead-in. And ABC's Charlie's Angels took a massive 29% drop at 8/7c.
There wasn't a whole lot of good news on the second Thursday of the season, but Private Practice at least premiered pretty decently, retaining an above-average 78% of its Grey's Anatomy lead-in and down a reasonable 13% year-to-year.
Several returnees also had double-digit drops in week two, like Grey's, The Office and The Mentalist (adjusted out of the double digits in finals).
ABC saw post-premiere drops from all three of its week-ago shows, with The Middle probably the most unsettling of the three, but they still had a good night thanks to the very strong premiere of Suburgatory, which was up big from The Middle and was in a close race with Survivor for second at 8:30. That's a much better start than either of The Middle's previous companions in the 8:00 hour, Hank (2.1 on 9/30/09) and Better with You (2.5 on 9/22/10).
Leading out of Modern Family (down just 7% from last week's average and just 5% from what it got in the 9:00 half hour) was the season premiere of Happy Endings, which scored a series high but dropped 46% from Modern Family. Not quite sure yet what to make of that performance and probably need to see more.
At 10:00 ABC had Revenge, which dropped much less than expected (18%) considering its lead-in was three full points weaker. This is probably a very encouraging week two for the show. It was still within spitting distance of CSI and well ahead of Law and Order: SVU in the 10:00 race.
NBC saw further drops from Up All Night and Free Agents, the latter of which is probably gonna get canned later today.
The X Factor was down just three ticks from its 4.4 week-ago premiere. Not too bad, but the show remains a disappointment relative to expectations.
The CDub was on the upswing with H8Rtying its high. I wonder if there were baseball preemptions? Apparently not! Congrats to H8R!
For the second Tuesday in a row, the big winner was Fox comedy New Girl, which significantly built out of the declining Glee and dropped just 6% from last week's premiere. Expect a back nine for this one pretty soon. Toldja? Fox gave the show a back nine earlier today!
The other new shows also did all right, with the CW's Ringerstabilizing and CBS' Unforgettabledropping by a fairly typical amount. However, as I said last week, I didn't think Unforgettable had a whole lot of margin for error, and it's likely used most of it up if it holds here.
Among returnees, the NCIS pair was very slightly down from last week (with LA up to even in finals). The mothership was only barely behind New Girl as the night's top program. The only two week-to-week growers in the second Tuesday prelims were 90210 and Parenthood, each up a tick.
I created the True Strength number last summer so I could have an objective way of comparing shows across vastly different situations. One of the most fun comparisons to be made is among the biggest shows on TV. What's really the strongest show in a vacuum? Hence my new weekly feature the True Top 25. This will compare shows while accounting for everything so we can see who Truly comes out on top. I include both the A18-49 and the weekly ranking in A18-49 so you can see the changes within the rankings that True Strength makes.
Pretty interesting stuff this week, as we see that the post-Two and a Half Men episode of 2 Broke Girls still performed quite respectably but not quite as hugely as its A18-49 rating indicated. As expected from what I did this summer, some of the biggest positive movers are shows that air in the relatively low-viewed Wednesday 8/7c and Thursday 8/7c timeslots.
As I usually do with my year-to-year posts, at the end of each week I take a look at the biggest of the big gainers and losers among adults 18-49. You can click the "y2y summaries" label to see the various forms those have taken in past sweeps. Usually I just look at the top 5 gainers and losers, but since premiere week is a one-week thing, I'll throw ya a bone and do top 10 this time! The year-to-year posts will return with November sweeps.
I made this change some time last season, but I should note that in the timeslot comparisons, I no longer count original-vs.-repeat or repeat-vs.-original comparisons unless they are in the counterintuitive direction (so if a repeat does much better than a year-ago original or an original does much worse than a year-ago repeat). All repeat-vs.-repeat comparisons are eligible, though!
Top 10 year-to-year show losers
1. America's Next Top Model (W 9-10pm vs. W 8-9pm) -46%
2. Nikita (F 8-9pm vs. Th 9-10pm) -45%
3. Supernatural -38%
5. Dancing with the Stars Tuesday-34%
6. Cops (R)-31%
t-7. Fringe (F 9-10pm vs. Th 9-10pm) -29%
10. 60 Minutes-26%
Probably the worst news on the CW, where basically every hour of the schedule is bad news, is the absolute implosion of usual fixture America's Next Top Model. What is going to happen to this show? The netlet also has a presence on this list care of Friday exile Nikita and the weak second-season-on-Friday premiere of Supernatural. I'm catching some flak over at SpoilerTV for calling Supernatural a loser this week, and they have some valid points (especially how much weaker its lead-in is) but that percentage drop is undeniable. And another potentially big story nobody's talking about (probably because nobody would care even if they knew about it) is the big drops for Cops. With America's Most Wanted having recently ended on broadcast TV, we may not be too far from taking yet another step toward the official end of entertainment programming on Saturday.
Top 10 year-to-year show gainers 1. Two and a Half Men+118%
2. How I Met Your Mother (M 8-9pm vs. M 8-8:30pm) +38%
3. Dateline Fri (F 9-11pm vs. F 8-10pm) +25%
4. Modern Family+20%
6. Saturday Night Football+15%
7. The Middle+15%
8. NCIS: Los Angeles+13%
10. The Simpsons+5% It's nice to actually have 10+ shows up year-to-year, which hasn't always been the case for these! The two big show winners were the astounding premiere of Two and a Half Men and a show that was in its "halo." As ABC's big hits from the mid-2000s continue to fade away, the net can certainly at least boast that their "next generation" of scripted programs (The Middle, Modern Family and Castle) keep getting healthier. And after coming a tiny bit back down to earth last season, those NCIS shows start 2011-12 back on the upswing. Top 10 year-to-year timeslot losers
1. H8R vs. America's Next Top Model (CW, Wednesday 8-9pm) -69%
2. Harry's Law vs. Law & Order: SVU (NBC, Wednesday 9-10pm) -63%
3. Nikita vs. Smallville (CW, Friday 8-9pm) -54%
4. Supernatural (CW, Friday 9-10pm) -38%
t-5. Free Agents vs. Undercovers (NBC, Wednesday 8:30-9pm) -38%
t-5. Hell's Kitchen vs. House (Fox, Monday 8-9pm) -38%
7. 20/20 (ABC, Friday 10-11p) -38%
8. Dancing with the Stars Tuesday (ABC, Tuesday 9-10pm) -34%
9. American Dad! vs. Family Guy (Fox, Sunday 9:30-10pm) -33%
10. The Sing-Off vs. Chuck/The Event (NBC, Monday 8-10pm) -32%
Important note: I left off the CBS Sunday shows because matching up timeslots is particularly tough due to last year's NFL overrun, but based on the inaccurate numbers I have, 60 Minutes (-62% from the overrun and part of 60 Minutes) and The Good Wife (-42% from the end of The Amazing Race) and CSI: Miami (-39% from Undercover Boss) would all be on this list. So you can chop off the last three if you want and put those in!
The top three shows on this list were all weak but also have the misfortune of going up against stuff that was relatively strong on the year-ago evening. Probably the ugliest one is Free Agents' big decline from the year-ago soft premiere of Undercovers. Barely making the list is The Sing-Off, which many people had figured would at least exceed the Chuck/Event numbers. However, the Chuck/Event numbers weren't that bad at the beginning of the fall, so Sing-Off gets off to a bad year-to-year start. Let's see where it's at in November.
Top 10 year-to-year timeslot gainers
1. Revenge vs. The Whole Truth (ABC, Wednesday 10-11pm) +120%
2. Two and a Half Men (CBS, Monday 9-9:30pm) +118%
3. Hell's Kitchen vs. Lone Star (Fox, Monday 9-10pm) +100%
4. 2 Broke Girls vs. Mike & Molly (CBS, Monday 9:30-10pm) +82%
5. The X Factor vs. Bones/Fringe (Fox, Thursday 8-10pm) +79%
6. How I Met Your Mother vs. Rules of Engagement (CBS, Monday 8:30-9pm) +68%
7. Fringe vs. The Good Guys (Fox, Friday 9-10pm) +67%
8. Revenge (R) vs. The Whole Truth (R) (ABC, Friday 9-10pm) +57%
9. New Girl vs. Raising Hope (Fox, Tuesday 9-9:30pm) +55%
10. The X Factor vs. Hell's Kitchen (Fox, Wednesday 8-10pm) +54%
Basically three big lessons from this list: 1) Revenge is doing a whole lot better than last year's The Whole Truth; 2) Two and a Half Men and all its companions did some good work; and 3) While The X Factor rated below most expectations, it did at least bring some really significant improvement to its timeslots (although you might counter that was kind of a given).
It's not often you'll see a 944% increase, but I guess having the NFL one year and not having it the next can make a big difference... sadly, it's not eligible for the top of the week lists coming a little later because it's an original vs. a repeat...!
Fox got a mediocre at best showing out of the heavily hyped Terra Nova premiere, which only tied for the second strongest drama debut yet this season. This is a clear disappointment considering the ratings expectations are higher than for a normal show (because of the exorbitant negative cost).
The CDub Monday is apparently not going to be the shot in the arm this lineup desperately needs, with Gossip Girl down three ticks from last year's premiere and the series premiere of Hart of Dixie ranking way behind their other launches this season.
CBS' lineup expectedly came down, but perhaps not all the way back to earth. Two and a Half Men was still well ahead of any of its results from the last few seasons, How I Met Your Mother continues to be incredibly impressive, 2 Broke Girlsbuilt slightly from HIMYM in its regular timeslot debut and Mike & Molly premiered at easily series high levels. Hawaii Five-0 also came only barely down from last week when it had a huge lead-in and nearly closed the True gap with Castle.
It was mostly bad news for NBC and ABC, with reality franchises Dancing with the Stars and The Sing-Offeach down double digits from their premieres. The Playboy Club also tumbled by three tenths. The only positive was Castle, which nearly held up week-to-week and had easily its best yet DWTS retention.
Over at SpoilerTV, it's the premiere week edition of the Ratings Five-Spot. I take an extended look at just how nuts the Two and a Half Men debut was, plus I choose a big winner and loser among both the new shows and returning shows. Check it out!
This premiere Sunday saw big year-to-year declines from Desperate Housewives, whose final season opened up down by a whooping 26% year-to-year. It was a tick ahead of last year's finale. But ABC got good news at 10/9c as the debut of Pan Am actually had full retention out of Desperate in the prelims and, after finals, still had the best post-DH retention since Grey's Anatomy left Sunday. It also built on DH in total viewers and did better than any episode of Brothers & Sisters in the timeslot last year.
Earlier in the evening, the two-hour premiere of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition was down a couple ticks from last year.
It was a nice opening week for Fox's Animation Domination, with The Simpsons slightly up from last year, The Cleveland Show flat and Family Guy down less than 10%. They also had the American Dad! premiere, which was even with last year's October 3 premiere. It's worth noting that Fox had the NFL overrun this year and didn't have it on last year's opening Sunday, so those performances may not bode quite as well as they seem to.
The Good Wife turned in yet another low-2's performance in its Sunday debut, down a bit from last year but in line with its 2010-11 average. CSI: Miami was down huge from last year's premiere (which had a much bigger lead-in in Undercover Boss). Also down 20%+ from last year was, The Amazing Race, though it was still easily CBS' strongest show and it benefited more directly from the national NFL overrun last year.
NBC of course dominated with Sunday Night Football, though it posted its weakest performance of the season thus far.
FYI, I think I'll wait on Saturday posts most weeks until I see the complete finals on Wednesday. There's one interesting/strong program (football) and its ratings are usually tough to read based on preliminaries. I may make exceptions in some interesting cases (like Rules of Engagement's Saturday premiere in two weeks) but the interesting cases on Saturday are few and far between.
ABC dominated with their LSU/West Virginia football game scoring a 2.3 demo.
Several new dramas got encore runs. It was Person of Interest over Harry's Law at 8/7c and Unforgettable beating Prime Suspect at 9/8c.
Fox's Fringe returned in fairly uninspiring fashion, about in line with the average of its winter/spring 2011 run on Friday. It was significantly down from the 1.9 it brought to its Friday debut but up from the last six Friday eps. Fox got a similarly OK showing out of Kitchen Nightmares, which was also right in line with its early 2011 average.
CBS debuted newbie A Gifted Man in line with the year-ago debut of Medium, another relatively uninspiring but not terrible debut considering its brutal timeslot. The show skewed absolutely ancient with 9.3 million total viewers, meaning an estimated 19% of its audience was in the demo. That's the lowest percentage of any show thus far this season.
Elsewhere on CBS, CSI: NY and Blue Bloods were both solid if down a couple ticks year-to-year. Blue Bloods cracked a 2.0 on Friday for the first time since its second ep ever back on 10/1/10.
The disaster continues for the CDub, with Nikita down more than half from both its own year-ago Thursday premiere and from Smallville's year-ago rating in the timeslot. Supernatural was also down huge, dropping a half point from last year's premiere.
NBC got a great showing from Dateline, which more than doubled its lead-in and averaged a 2.0 demo on Friday for the first time in almost two years - since 12/11/09.
Same-week encores of Up All Night, Whitney, Modern Family and Revenge all did fine, with Revenge once again making big strides on the year-ago episode of The Whole Truth (whose Friday encore managed just a 0.7 last year).
Despite lots of returnees dropping 20%+, it was actually a slightly up day for broadcast as a whole thanks to the big gains by The X Factor. The double-sized premieres for Big Bang and Grey's helped too.
For the second straight year, the best ratings news on premiere Thursday was the performance of The Big Bang Theory. The 4.9 rating at 8:00 was even year-to-year with the 8:00 half-hour debut, while the overall average was slightly up. Considering how stellar last year's performance was (and also considering it was easily last season's strongest rating), this is a really good start.
Winning the night was The X Factor, whose second night ended up only barely down from its Wednesday debut. Fox continues to tout how this program is shoring up these two historically troublesome nights for them (in the fall).
New show results? I don't think anyone's thrilled. The best showing was probably Whitney, which dropped by only 15% out of The Office, but even it was a slightly weaker showing than the year-ago premiere of Outsourced (3.6 out of a 4.4 Office).
CBS' Person of Interest joined Tuesday's drama launch Unforgettable in the "OK" pile, dropping big out of Big Bang and, as with Whitney, down a few ticks from the year-ago occupant (CSI's 3.4).
The two relatively weak launches were ABC's Charlie's Angels, which skewed fairly old (preliminarily only about 31% of its audience was in-demo) and NBC drama Prime Suspect. The only real positive for these two programs was their significant year-to-year timeslot improvement, though that's not that big a deal when the comparisons are to massive flops My Generation (1.6 in the Angels' slot last year) and The Apprentice (1.4 where Suspect aired).
For the returnees not named Big Bang, it was mostly pretty ugly. The Office probably fared best, down only around 10% from last year, but Grey's Anatomy, The Mentalist, Community and The Vampire Diaries were all in the general vicinity of 20% down. The drop for Parks & Recreation vs. last season's midseason debut was even bigger, though that was largely because of the move to 8:30.
Finally, week two of The Secret Circle took a surprisingly huge week two drop from its 1.3 premiere. As with Ringer, we'll see if the competish settling down next week will bring a bounce-back.