Friday, July 13, 2012

The War of 18-49, Leverage


Scheduling history: Leverage premiered with a special Sunday airing and aired the rest of season one on Tuesday. It moved to Wednesday in season two, then to Sunday in season three. It began season five back on Sunday, but the series' final run returned to where it all began: Tuesday at 10:00.

See (who saw) how it all began: That special Sunday airing on December 7, 2008 came after TNT premiered the third installment in its The Librarian franchise of TV movies. The Librarian movie was seen by 5.44 million viewers, then Leverage followed with 4.99 million viewers and a 1.6 A18-49 rating. I don't have a bunch of the season one demo ratings, but the viewership (typically around three million) combined with the skew for the episodes I do have suggests the show ended up in the 0.9 to 1.0 range for most of the rest of season one.

The best of times: That post-Librarian premiere remains easily Leverage's series high. Aside from that, though, it's tough to come up with a clear highest sustained level. For a really large chunk of Leverage's run, especially in the summer, Leverage has scored right in that exact same 0.9 to 1.0 range, including last summer. The second highest rating for Leverage remains the 1.3 demo it pulled for the premiere of the second half of season two on 1/13/10.

The worst of times: In the last few years, Leverage has become yet another of those standalone cable dramas that doesn't hold up all that well in the regular season. The season three regular season run was kind of an anomaly because it aired just three episodes, but the first of those episodes on 12/12/10 managed just a 0.5 demo rating, which remained the series low until the last few episodes at the end of 2012, when it hit a 0.5 demo for each of the first three episodes of that final run. It perked back up as high as a 0.7 for the Christmas Night series finale.

Then vs. now: For several years, Leverage was quietly one of the steadiest-rated shows around, even if its ratings were never anything all that special. It managed to survive long enough to get renewed four times even though it was always one big downturn away from falling into real hot water. That big downturn finally came in 2012, perhaps thanks in part to getting shoved down to the 8:00 hour in the summer. Cable originals do not exactly have an incredibly rich history, but it still may come as a bit of a surprise that Leverage has the second-longest run of any TNT drama as of its ending. It is a pretty admirable feat for a show that never had that much buzz.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
1Fall 2008Sunday 10:
2ASummer 2009Wednesday 9:000.950.81.1

2BWinter 2010Wednesday 10:000.95-8%0.81.3
3ASummer 2010Sunday 9:000.95+0%0.81.1

3BFall 20100.63-33%0.50.7
4ASummer 20110.91-5%0.71.1

4BFall 20110.68+7%0.60.8
5ASummer 2012Sunday 8:000.71-22%0.60.8
5BFall 2012Tuesday 10:000.56-17%0.50.7

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
1Fall 2008 34 30 53 53 33
2ASummer 20093227373333
2BWinter 2010 34 28 46 46 32
3ASummer 20103428393636
3BFall 2010 25 20 28 20 28
4ASummer 20113627433935
4BFall 2011 29 25 34 30 34
5ASummer 20123025353528
5BFall 2012 27 24 33 24 33

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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