Saturday, March 31, 2012

First Two Weeks, Touch


My rule with preview-type airings is to count them if they're within a week or two of the "official" premiere, not if they're farther out than that. So this one doesn't count. But for reference, Touch's Wednesday preview episode got a 3.9 demo out of a 6.5 lead-in from American Idol on January 25. Then the official premiere nearly two months later got a 3.3 demo with a much weaker 4.2 Idol lead-in. That looks pretty good, but the concern here was the utter lack of competition. None of the three timeslot power players were in originals, and only Grey's Anatomy even aired a repeat. The Office sat out entirely in favor of 30 Rock, and Person of Interest was preempted by NCAA basketball. Overall, it was a pretty easy time period, but credit Touch for capitalizing.

In week two of its Thursday run, Touch declined 18% to a 2.7 demo. That's on the high side of typical, but the timeslot did get a little tougher as strong CBS drama Person of Interest returned to the mix. Grey's and The Office were still out of the hour.

This situation looks fairly Alcatraz-ian in that the show has rung up some numbers in a highly favorable situation - good lead-in, no real competition. We can't know how dedicated these viewers are until all the players are back in the game; after all, even an early ep of mostly weak The Finder could ring up a 2.8 with no competition. I said Alcatraz would be renewed, though with perhaps a bit more hesitation than some would've at the time, and it certainly looks like I will be wrong about that. Do I make the same mistake twice? There is one important difference: Fox's increasing drama desperation. Since I wrote that Alcatraz post on January 29, House has been cancelled, Terra Nova has been cancelled, Alcatraz dropped 50% and The Finder has softened too. Touch doesn't look any better than Alcatraz or Terra Nova did at this point in their runs. In fact, after finals adjustments, it probably looks worse. But it has the advantage of not having collapsed yet, and that advantage is a fairly big deal at this point in Fox's rough season.

Like with Smash, this prognosis is basically a battle between the network's desperation and the underwhelming ratings. Can the network really take just Bones and Glee into 2012-13 as their only returning dramas? I'll again choose desperation and reluctantly say there will be a season two.

"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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