Wednesday, August 15, 2012

War of 18-49 Flashback, The Moment of Truth (Fox, 2008)


Scheduling history: The Moment of Truth aired five episodes in early 2008 after American Idol on Wednesday (plus a special episode on Monday). It then moved to the lead-off role on Wednesday for four weeks in March. The show then left the airwaves for two months, returning for a summer run on Tuesday.

When there was hope: The premiere of Fox's trainwreck-tastic game show The Moment of Truth began in unbelievably strong fashion, pulling 23.05 million viewers and a whooping 10.2 demo rating on January 23, 2008. That represented some of the best-ever retention of an American Idol (27.09m, 10.9) that was at the time still not that far from its peak. For reference, no regularly-scheduled scripted show in the entire 2007-08 season ever got numbers that big! It was bound to drop from there, and it did by pretty substantial amounts: to 7.8 in week two, to 7.1 in week three, and then into the low 6's for its last couple post-Idol airings. But those were still pretty stellar numbers compared to most Idol lead-outs, and the show then demonstrated a rock-solid audience when it moved to the 8:00 slot in March (steady in the low 4's). Fox then scheduled the show for Tuesday nights in the summer, where it initially had a pretty good-for-summer audience (debuting on May 27 with a 3.0 demo, then dropping into the mid-2's for a few weeks).

When hope was lost: Though the critics had unanimously called the show an affront to humanity, Fox had looked at The Moment of Truth's great regular season numbers and happily renewed it for a second season at the 2008 upfront. But that summer 2008 run continued to sour ratings-wise, dropping as low as a 1.7 average for two episodes on August 28, including a 1.4 in the 8:00 hour! The 1.7 average was just a sixth of its 10.2 premiere rating seven months earlier. At that point, there just wasn't quite as much incentive for Fox to sell its soul away. The second season, initially scheduled for Thursday in fall 2008, got pushed to midseason in August. There was then no word about the show until April, when the summer 2009 schedule had a place for MoT on Wednesday after So You Think You Can Dance starting in late July. But that too would later get postponed, and at that point it had become pretty clear that this was gonna go down as one of the quicker falls from grace in recent memory. An entire second season (plus five eps never aired from the 23-episode first season) would sit on the shelf.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Season Year Timeslot Lo Avg Hi Results Grade
12007-08W 9:00, W 8:00, Tu 8:001.44.1710.2

Year A18-49+ Label Year-to-Year In-Season
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.

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