ARMY WIVES (Lifetime)
Scheduling history: Army Wives aired in the Sunday 10:00 timeslot for its first four seasons. Lifetime finally moved it to 9:00 starting in season five to lead into new shows, though the back half of season six (premiering this Sunday, June 24) will return to 10:00.
See (who saw) how it all began: The premiere of Army Wives was the biggest drama debut in Lifetime history, seen by 3.47 million viewers and scoring a 1.2 demo on June 3, 2007. The show dropped a bit in week two, to 3.27 million and a 1.1, but those ended up being the low points of season one. The show rose to a 1.4 in week three and spent the rest of season one in the 1.2 to 1.5 range.
The best of times: Army Wives was at its biggest right at the beginning of season two, as the show followed up its 1.5 season one finale with a whooping 4.52 million viewers and 1.9 demo in the season two premiere on June 8, 2008. It followed that up with a 1.8 demo the next week, tied as the second-biggest rating in show history, but season two went on to settle in the mid-1's. It remains the show's biggest overall season.
The worst of times: Currently airing season six has been the lowest thus far for Army Wives. It's the only one to date that's averaged below a 1.0 demo, though that could change if it has a good run starting this Sunday night. Season four was also a notable weak point for the show, marking its second straight decline of 15% or more. The series low is a 0.8 demo, hit once during season four (5/23/10) and three times thus far this season.
Then vs. now: For at least two seasons, Army Wives has felt to me like it is right on the verge of ending. The weak-rated season four led to season five having a decided "final season" feel to it, but then came the ratings resurgence in 2011. And now the original cast's contracts are up; one has already left the show, and others have reportedly explored other options. But at least so far, Army Wives keeps finding a way to survive, and the ABC Studios deal with Catherine Bell would seem to suggest there's a very good chance season six won't be the last one either. Why does it keep sticking around? I think the main reason is that Lifetime very much wants to be in the scripted original business but is worried about life in that arena after Army Wives. Both shows that the net launched after Army Wives in season five (The Protector and Against the Wall) got canned. But this year's post-Wives launch, The Client List, has shown considerably more promise, so they may have finally found their Army Wives heir apparent.
Adults 18-49 info by season:
|6*||2011-12||Sun 9:00, Sun 10:00||0.8||0.96||1.2|
|Premiere||Average||Finale||P -> F|
*- Season six still airing; will update after it's over
For more on The War of 18-49, my look at the history of primetime TV's veteran shows, see the Index.