Friday, August 17, 2012

The War of 18-49, The Secret Life of the American Teenager


Scheduling history: Aside from the first chunk of episodes in summer 2008, Secret Life aired its whole run on Mondays at 8:00.

See (who saw) how it all began: From day one, Secret Life looked like a game-changer for ABC Family. It premiered on July 1, 2008 with 2.82 million viewers and a 0.9 demo rating. The week two numbers were almost identical (2.81m and a 0.9), then it dropped a bit in week three. Then in week four began the show's meteoric rise. It hit a 1.2 demo in week four, a 1.4 demo in week five, and got as high as a 1.8 for the season finale on 9/9/08.

The best of times: Though Secret Life appeared to be on the verge of legitimate breakout status at the end of its first run in summer 2008, that 1.8 demo on 9/9/08 would instead remain a series high, and Secret Life just settled down at basically the same exact demo level (right around a 1.2) for most of the next three seasons, only noticeably dipping for its spring 2011 run.

The worst of times: As impressive as Secret Life was in basically getting the same exact solid ratings for over three years, it was all over starting in 2012. The spring run began in reasonable enough fashion with 2.51 million viewers and a 1.1 demo on March 26, but it quickly collapsed to a 0.8 the next week and would stay around the 0.7/0.8 vicinity until May, when it took another huge step down into the 0.5/0.6 vicinity. The final run in spring 2013 dropped into the 0.4/0.5 range before getting back to a 0.8 for the finale.

Then vs. now: When Secret Life first came on the scene, the "hits" on ABC Family were the likes of Kyle XY and Wildfire, and they usually only pulled like a 0.5 or so at that time. So suffice to say this was one of those shows that singlehandedly changed the game for its network. For awhile it was really on an island, as ABC Family couldn't find anything to perform in the Secret Life stratosphere until Pretty Little Liars debuted two years later, and it took until about 2012 for PLL to emerge as the clearly stronger option over Secret Life. Its audience vanished to an alarmingly fast degree over its last two seasons, but it leaves its network in much better shape than it found it.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
1ASummer 2008Tuesday 8:

1BWinter 2009Monday 8:
2ASummer 20091.26+4%1.01.6

2BWinter 20101.14-6%1.01.6
3ASummer 20101.19-6%1.11.3

3BSpring 20110.91-20%0.81.3
4ASummer 20111.14-3%0.61.5

4BSpring 20120.71-22%0.51.1
5ASummer 20120.65-43%0.50.8

5BSpring 20130.49-31%0.40.8

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
1ASummer 20083724542754
1BWinter 2009 41 33 50 47 50
2ASummer 20094233535347
2BWinter 2010 41 36 57 57 39
3ASummer 20104239464646
3BSpring 2011 36 31 51 51 35
4ASummer 20114524595955
4BSpring 2012 30 22 45 45 25
5ASummer 20122820343231
5BSpring 2013 23 17 37 29 37

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


Spot said...

July 1, 2008, was a Tuesday, so I think its summer 2008 run aired on Tuesdays and moved to Mondays for the duration of its run (so far) in 2009.

Spot said...

Wow, I had ZERO recollection of that and didn't have it noted anywhere, but it appears you're right! Thanks so much!

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