Thursday, June 14, 2012

The War of 18-49, Burn Notice


Scheduling history: Burn Notice has been a Thursday fixture for USA since its premiere in 2007. Beginning in 2009, USA started using the show at 9/8c in the summer to lead into another program, first Royal Pains in 2009/10, then Suits in 2011/12, then Graceland in its final run in summer 2013.

See (who saw) how it all began: The series premiere of Burn Notice pulled in 3.99 million viewers and a 1.5/5 adults 18-49 rating on June 28, 2007. This was a pretty impressive start, a little better in 18-49 than what USA fixtures Monk and Psych would do on Friday that summer. The show dropped a tick to 1.4 in week two, then went down into the low 1's in late July, but in August the show picked up major steam. The back half of season one typically rated around a 1.6 in the demo.

The best of times: Burn Notice showed some promise in its second summer run, but it didn't really catch fire till its first opportunity to air during the regular season. In winter 2009, the show started breaking 2.0 for the first time, and then it hovered around a 1.9 for most of the next summer. Its strongest point was when it hit a whooping 7.59 million viewers and 2.1 demo for the season 3A finale on August 6, 2009.

The worst of times: Since that 2009 peak, it's been mostly downhill for Burn Notice, and the declines only sped up for a couple years. Its fall run in 2011 saw ratings that were really a shadow of everything the show had done before. It got as low as a 0.8 demo in November 2011, though the show rallied back above 1.0 for the last few episodes of the season. It once again went below 1.0 a few times in the final season, including a particularly odd 0.7 on 7/18/13 that would remain the series low.

Then vs. now: In the late aughts, USA Network seemed utterly invincible, and it was Burn Notice that really kicked off that whole streak of success. It just kept growing while everything on broadcast kept falling, and then it launched a show in Royal Pains that seemed just as strong. But what we're seeing with these established cable networks is that their shows are just like everyone else's. For awhile, they benefited from the fact that people were still discovering the network, but that ultimately can't hide the fact that shows naturally get older and lose audience and get dragged down by alternate forms of viewing. It actually had a pretty solid 2012, considerably slowing the bleeding both in the summer and especially in the regular season, but Burn Notice's time had come; its 13-episode summer 2013 season was announced as the last, and it took another significant dip.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg Lo HiResults Grade
1Summer 2007Thursday 10:001.461.11.711/12
2ASummer 20081.581.31.8
2BSpring 20091.851.62.16/7
3ASummer 2009Thursday 9:001.881.62.18/9
3BSpring 2010Thursday 10:001.691.41.9
4ASummer 2010Thursday 9:001.691.52.0
4BFall 2010Thursday 10:001.451.21.7
5ASummer 2011Thursday 9:001.381.11.7
5BFall 2011Thursday 10:
6ASummer 2012Thursday 9:
6BFall 2012Thursday 10:000.990.91.1
7Summer 2013Thursday 9:

A18-49+Year-to-Year In-Season
Premiere Average Finale P -> F
Summer 200739+7%
Summer 200848+20%+8%+0%-11%
Spring 200962+11%
Summer 200963+6%+19%+31%+11%
Spring 201060+0%-9%-24%-16%
Summer 201061+5%-10%-5%+0%
Fall 201057-21%-14%+6%+13%
Summer 201154-15%-18%-35%-24%
Fall 201143-33%-30%-35%+10%
Summer 201252-29%-10%+2%+9%
Fall 201247+6%-3%-7%-4%
Summer 201349-2%-17%-3%+8%

For more on The War of 18-49, my look at the history of primetime TV's veteran shows, see the Index.

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