Thursday, March 15, 2012

First Two Weeks, GCB


The premiere of GCB scored 7.56 million viewers and a 2.2 demo, putting it clearly in the lower echelon of the season's series premieres. It dropped by 12% out of its Desperate Housewives lead-in. At that level, the odds are undeniably against you; it'd likely be the weakest scripted premiere to eventually get renewed on the big four this season. If it got renewed, it'd tie as the weakest premiere ever for an in-season weeknight big-four scripted drama to eventually get renewed (with last season's Harry's Law).

But week two of GCB saw a script-flip. The show actually picked up a tick in the demo, gaining 5% to finish week two at a 2.3 demo. (It did lose a small touch in total viewers.) That makes it the first new series this season to build audience in week two under relatively similar circumstances (The Finder had an American Idol infusion in week two). In fact, nothing has pulled this feat off since The Good Wife nearly two and a half years ago.

The underwhelming-but-not-quite-DOA premiere plus the better-than-expected week two has been a bit of a rarity this season. Historically, I've had a pretty good record in picking against these kinds of shows, and the main reason is that the premiere is just the more telling number about the interest in the show. None of those shows ever seem to stabilize at the week two number, even if the drop is small enough to make that appear imminent. Actually gaining in week two psychologically feels like a much bigger deal than the single-digit drop, because nearly a hundred scripted shows have premiered since that last happened, but even week two gainer The Good Wife in 2009-10 ended up settling several ticks below the week two number.

A few conflicting things to consider: first, there were some indicators the show could hold well, like its perfect half-hour hold in week one and its pretty strong repeat number on the Thursday after the premiere. But I do wonder whether the week two number might have gotten a bit of a bump from the Newt Gingrich controversy surrounding the show in the days leading up to week two. And the show did drop by 8% in week two in the TRUE metric, as the gain appeared to come alongside a pretty noticeable increase in overall viewing.

What to make of it all? I will hesitantly pick a cancellation. I think (perhaps somewhat based on how much I hated the first two episodes) that the most likely scenario is the show ends up settling somewhere significantly lower than it is right now, and there still just isn't a whole lot of cushion. But I will admit that week two took what looked like a really long shot proposition and made it much more favorable. Can't wait to see next week's ratings.

"First Two Weeks" is my look at... the first two weeks of a new scripted broadcast show's ratings. I also line all of these numbers up to do an objective analysis in what I call "the system."

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