BURN NOTICE (USA)
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 and then Suits in 2011/12.
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 and 2.36 million viewers on November 17, 2011, though the show rallied back above 1.0 for the last few episodes of the season and never got that low in season six.
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. But the show had a pretty solid 2012, considerably slowing the bleeding both in the summer and especially in the regular season. Despite its positive ratings, it'll have just 13 episodes in its summer 2013 return.
Adults 18-49 info by season:
|1||Summer 2007||Thursday 10:00||1.1||1.46||1.7||11/12|
|3A||Summer 2009||Thursday 9:00||1.6||1.88||2.1||8/9|
|3B||Spring 2010||Thursday 10:00||1.4||1.69||1.9|
|4A||Summer 2010||Thursday 9:00||1.5||1.69||2.0|
|4B||Fall 2010||Thursday 10:00||1.2||1.45||1.7|
|5A||Summer 2011||Thursday 9:00||1.1||1.38||1.7|
|5B||Fall 2011||Thursday 10:00||0.8||1.02||1.2|
|6A||Summer 2012||Thursday 9:00||1.1||1.24||1.4||B|
|6B||Fall 2012||Thursday 10:00||0.9||0.99||1.1|
|Premiere||Average||Finale||P -> F|
For more on The War of 18-49, my look at the history of primetime TV's veteran shows, see the Index.