Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Top 10 TV Ratings Moments of 2012, 10 to 6

It's time for my third annual spin on the year-end TV top ten list as I look back at the top ten moments of another year in TV ratings! This is always one of the most fun posts of the year, but it's also pretty nerve-racking, because I'm totally paranoid that I'll miss something. So once the second half of the list goes up in 24 hours, feel free to note my most glaring omissions.

Here are the two previous years:
2010: 10 to 6 | 5 to 1
2011: 10 to 6 | 5 to 1

As always, the criteria are pretty subjective, but I go for a blend of 1) relatively isolated incidents that carry cultural significance and 2) moments that exemplify much larger trends in TV this year. The headlines link back to my writings on these moments at the time they happened. Enjoy!

10. Malibu Country Debuts, Shark Tank Surges (November 2)
One of this list's hallowed traditions is to highlight one particularly interesting Friday that puts the potential of this "dying night" of TV on display. ABC got a big-for-Friday premiere from Reba's sitcom Malibu Country (2.3 demo) as well as a series high for unscripted Shark Tank (2.3). In an increasingly rare feat for Friday, both were right around the average for big-four network entertainment programming across the entire week! Though Malibu settled at a much lower level, you could still argue it's the most successful new show out of ABC's underwhelming fall class.

9. The Mindy Project and Ben and Kate Crumble (October 2)
This felt like the one moment that best encapsulated what a rough fall it was for Fox, because it affirmed the weakness of their entire crop of new shows. Fox had tried to capitalize on the general sitcom upswing with an all-comedy night, but their much-hyped and much-beloved pair of new comedies each took a week two drop of over 20%. That left them both below a 2.0 demo at a very early stage. They've survived so far, since Fox has so few other options, but it's pretty clear Fox's four-comedy Tuesday worked out the worst of all the networks' "big moves" at the upfront.

8. The Super Bowl Sets Another Record (February 5)
I've expressed in past years that I kind of hate including the Super Bowl on this list because the huge ratings aren't remotely a surprise and they don't really "matter" in terms of changing the industry. But as long as the Bowl keeps setting the most watched TV event record, it's got a place on here. This year, the run-up to the record was actually pretty interesting, because the various sets of heavily scrutinized preliminary numbers were split on whether an actual record had been set. That meant we knew it'd be close either way, and it was: 111.35 million viewers, just 340,000 sets of eyeballs ahead of last year's game.

7. Revolution Premieres, The Voice Grows (September 17)
This was probably the night that most strongly suggested NBC was on its way "back." Revolution (4.1 demo) started sensationally for NBC, outdoing even the peak numbers of Smash when it had aired after a much larger The Voice, and the success of Revolution looked even more impressive after the rest of the broadcast newbie crop came in pretty flat. Another important development on this night was the week-to-week growth from The Voice, a show that had underwhelmed on premiere night but straightened things out in week two en route to a fall of Monday dominance.

6. The Grammy Awards Get a "Whitney Bounce" (February 12)
It sounds insensitive, but sometimes tragic events have extremely good timing from the network perspective. Music legend Whitney Houston was found dead on February 11, just a day before the biggest night in music. And people flocked to the Grammys in droves for the remembrances. The event ended up with nearly 40 million viewers and a 14.1 demo rating, with the latter up a shocking 41% from last year. It marked the first time in almost 30 years that the Grammys got a bigger audience than the Academy Awards. And the Whitney Bounce reverberated across the next couple weeks, from newsmagazines to even the less-watched NAACP Image Awards the next week.

1 comment:

Spot said...

I definitely agree so far. Revolution was a bit of a surprise as were ABC's Friday comedies. Hopefully we'll see the huge season 3 premiere of Walking Dead in the top 5. Man I love that show!

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