Thursday, February 28, 2013

Spotted Ratings, Wednesday 2/27/13

  • Odd final night of sweeps for CBS, where Survivor picked up some steam in week three but the crime dramas Criminal Minds and CSI had another really soft evening. Perhaps the competing NBC dramas are actually starting to wear away at this pair. Chicago Fire actually beat CSI for the first time despite the large lead-in disadvantage.
  • It was also up and down on ABC, where The Middle and The Neighbors came back a bit after last week's surge, Suburgatory picked back up and Nashville hit another new low.
  • American Idol was down multiple tenths for the fourth straight week and actually dropped behind Modern Family (they tied to one decimal, but Deadline numbers show Modern Family was very slightly ahead) for top broadcast program of the night.
  • Cable notables:
    • As you've probably already heard, it was another breakout evening for A&E's Duck Dynasty, which narrowly edged Modern Family and Idol. The show's rate of growth is pretty remarkable considering it was below a 2.0 for most of season two before spiking to a 3.0 for the season two finale. It's suddenly within a reasonable striking distance of the pinnacle rating for the original cable megahit Jersey Shore (4.7).
    • USA also had some much-needed good news with a strong return from Psych (1.0), basically dead even with its last season premiere in fall 2011 and up significantly on the spring 2012 mid-season premiere. It doubled up the struggling dramas elsewhere in the slot: FX's The Americans (0.5) and TNT's Southland (0.4).  
    • TNT tried a Southland-esque reality show in the 9:00 hour called Boston's Finest (1.21m, 0.4) and continued the network's recent slump. At least it edged the Monday Mornings premiere?

First Two Weeks, Zero Hour

ABC's first new midseason scripted show was drama Zero Hour, thrown into the same Thursday 8/7c slot where plenty of other dramas have failed recently. Aside from the usual big competition from The Big Bang Theory/Two and a Half Men and American Idol, this show also had to deal with an overall viewing depression thanks to Valentine's Day. All of that proved too much, as Zero managed just a 1.4 demo on premiere night. Because of the timeslot, that was not as dead on arrival as your average 1.4 premiere, but it was still pretty bad.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Spotted Ratings, Tuesday 2/26/13

  • Broadcast TV's case of the Tuesdays continued, as CBS rounded out a rather shockingly weak season of new shows with the premiere of Golden Boy. This was significantly behind what we think of as a strong CBS 10:00 show, and it barely held over 60% of NCIS: Los Angeles. It was noticeably ahead of recent episodes of Vegas, but probably not noticeably enough to keep the show on Tuesday beyond next week. In a world of scheduling inertia, it likely needs to build next week to get CBS to change its mind. The odds are against that, and a typical week two drop would put it right at Vegas levels.
  • The best showing on Tuesday came from ABC's Celebrity Wife Swap, which returned above all of the five-episode run from last winter. But it was of no help to The Taste, which fell to a new low in its move to 9/8c. Body of Proof held on in week two despite a much weaker lead-in, so I guess that's something?
  • Cult also held last week's weak premiere audience in week two (and was ever-so-slightly down in viewers).

Spotted Ratings, Monday 2/25/13

  • CBS sat out 10:00 offering Hawaii Five-0, and its comedy block was particularly soft on the last Monday of sweeps; Rules of Engagement, 2 Broke Girls and Mike and Molly were all at or very near season low points. Once again, this block could only barely hold off ABC's The Bachelor. Most other broadcast shows were pretty close to even.

The True Top 25, Week Ending 2/24/13 (2012-13 Week 22)

The Academy Awards comfortably topped the primetime charts this week. The Big Bang Theory again won easily among entertainment programs, while Modern Family actually held off both American Idol airings this week. Grey's Anatomy was the top broadcast drama, as it actually grew against a two-hour American Idol while NCIS (despite its 0.4 raw numbers advantage) had the usual nothing competition on Tuesday.

Shark Tank represented the Friday crowd, while still strong The Following and solid Elementary were the new shows this week. Two other new shows were close to the list: Chicago Fire (#26) and The Neighbors (#30 and a best-since-premiere number).

Spotted Ratings, Sunday 2/24/13

  • All preliminary indications suggest the Academy Awards are on the year-to-year upside and skewed younger than last year's show. The early numbers are not time zone-adjusted, but they're up a significant 19% (12.1 vs. 10.2) vs. the not-time-zone-adjusted numbers from a year ago. More later!
    • UPDATED: Time zone numbers put Oscar at 40.3 million viewers, up 3% year-to-year. But the growth was even more favorable as the demographic gets younger: a 13.0 A18-49 rating (up 11% from last year's 11.7) and an 11.3 A18-34 rating (up 20% from last year's 9.4). It was up a whooping 34% in the "Seth MacFarlane demo," men 18-34. In adults 18-49, this was the biggest Oscar since 2010 and the second-biggest in the last six years. Well done.
      • FINALS: small viewership adjustment up to 40.4 million. The available half-hour breakdowns (from 8:30 to 11:00) were pretty consistent (12.9 -> 13.5 -> 13.4 -> 13.5 -> 13.0), but the show likely dropped to a 12 or so in its post-primetime portion to make up the 13.0 average.
  • As usual, The Amazing Race put its second week up against Oscar and took a 24% post-premiere drop. After finals, this point was down just a bit more year-to-year (-14%) than last week's premiere (-11%), but it's more important where it ends up next week.
  • The Walking Dead remained extremely resilient in the face of big events, actually rising a tick week-to-week (5.7) against Oscar and edging The Big Bang Theory to win the week among entertainment series again.

Spotted Ratings, Saturday 2/23/13

  • CBS shifted 48 Hours to 9/8c so they could air a special at 10. Said special was much weaker than 48 Hours.

Spotted Ratings, Friday 2/22/13

  • It's not likely the finale ratings for CSI: NY were ever going to make much or any difference in its renewal prospects. But if the show has any real chance, this wasn't a good final impression. CSI: NY concluded as the weak link of the CBS evening and a distant third place in its timeslot. It surprisingly got zero week-to-week boost despite its lead-in more than doubling from last week with the return of Undercover Boss (1.5 overall, 1.7 at 8:30).
  • The 8:00 hour had some particularly soft showings from bubble shows: Last Man Standing, Malibu Country, Nikita.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Question, Tuesday 2/26/13: Will CBS' Drama Premiere Strike Gold?

Tonight, CBS replaces struggling Vegas with the new drama Golden Boy, in what's currently slated as a two-week Tuesday preview before it heads to Friday. Having whiffed with most of their new shows this season (and Elementary's only barely a success), CBS is promoting this show with a certain degree of desperation. If there's even a hint of success here, that move to Friday may never come to fruition. Will CBS' drama premiere strike Gold? That's The Question for Tuesday, February 26, 2013.

A18-49+: What's a "Hit for CW"?

Last week, I looked at creating a new A18-49+ label to identify a "hit" by the lower standards of Friday night TV ratings. Today, the same thing for the CW!

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Climate, Week 21: A Case of the Tuesdays

There's perhaps nothing more painful for TV ratings followers these days than looking at the Tuesday broadcast ratings. There's NCIS, and then there's a lot of pain. Pretty much every single network has at least one major underperformer. I could blame The Voice and Dancing with the Stars being off, but this night was collectively pretty ugly even when they were airing.

How bad is it? Why is it this bad? And can/will it get better? It's time to play a little CSI: Tuesday.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Spotted Ratings, Thursday 2/21/13

  • The shows I said last week would be most affected by Valentine's Day were the only ones that showed any significant post-Valentine's bounce-back: The Vampire Diaries, a two-hour American Idol and Grey's Anatomy, which was up multiple tenths despite facing Idol.
  • Most other shows didn't really bounce back at all, including the CBS lineup, while a couple were some were actually down: Community, week two of Zero Hour and, most surprisingly, the Parks and Recreation wedding. I would say this is a worrisome result for Parks, yet it was still the highest-rated comedy on NBC this week. And they aired four original hours!!

Demos Year-to-Year, February Sweeps 2013 Winners/Losers

Though I retired the formal daily year-to-year posts, after the premiere week I did pledge to shoot for at least one weeklong summary to put a spotlight on the year-to-year landscape during each sweeps period. I'm trying to pick out the most "normal" week from each period, and it looked like week three was by far the best this time. (Namely, it was the only week without a big event on Sunday.)

Top 10 year-to-year SHOW losers
1. Smash (Tu 10-11pm vs. M 10-11pm) -61%
2. The Mentalist (Su 10-11pm vs. Th 10-11pm) -41%
3. Glee (Th 9-10pm vs. Tu 8-9pm) -39%
4. The Good Wife -38%
5. Last Man Standing (F 8-8:30pm vs. Tu 8-8:30pm) -36%
6. Hawaii Five-0 -31%
7. Raising Hope (Tu 8-9pm vs. Tu 9:30-10pm) -29%
8. The Vampire Diaries -29%
9. 60 Minutes -28%
10. American Idol Thu (Th 8-9pm vs. Th 8-10pm) -27% 

Should note here that Valentine's Day probably puts the Thursday shows (Glee, TVD and Idol) in worse shape than they would normally be. It was a particularly ugly point for The Vampire Diaries, which has been close to even for much of the year, but Idol and Glee would've been down big anyway (just not quite as big). The three CBS Sunday shows also had a pretty horrifying evening compared to their usual results. The others were not that far off of their typical year-to-year losses.

SpotVault - Cult (CW) - 2012-13 Ratings

Tuesdays, 9/8c and Fridays, 9/8c, The CW

SpotVault - The Amazing Race (CBS) - Spring 2013 Ratings

The Amazing Race
Sundays, 8/7c, CBS

SpotVault - Body of Proof (ABC) - 2012-13 Ratings

Body of Proof
Tuesdays, 10/9c, ABC

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Spotted Ratings, Wednesday 2/20/13

  • With their regular schedule back in place, CBS was able to exhale a bit as Survivor held steady in week two (and closed the year-to-year gap from -24% last week to -14% this week) and CSI got back to a closer-to-normal level. Arguably Criminal Minds, which dropped in finals to a season low despite a better lead-in, was the most disappointing entry on the net this week.
  • ABC also had a sigh of relief as The Middle got back on track and Modern Family was up for the second straight week. And a pretty decent showing from The Neighbors may well beat Suburgatory in the True2 numbers this week.

Spotted Ratings, Tuesday 2/19/13

  • It was yet another Terrible Tuesday on network TV, particularly in the 10:00 hour. Despite Smash taking a large post-premiere drop and Vegas remaining one of CBS' weakest offerings, Body of Proof was not able to attract any real demo interest in its third season premiere, and was down nearly half from the season two premiere. The show had 82% viewership retention and 46% demo retention from another special Tuesday The Bachelor. That's incompatibility, kids!
  • 9:00 was nearly as bad, with NCIS: Los Angeles and New Girl and The Mindy Project all down double digits and Go On and The New Normal somehow finding even more new depths. As for the CW's Cult (0.3), well... I guess it's a lesson not to overthink terrible scheduling. Would've been interesting to see what it would've done after The Vampire Diaries, but the end result probably would have been the same. Clearly there was almost nobody willfully showing up here.

Spotted Ratings, Monday 2/18/13

  • Yet another resurgence from the never-say-die franchise The Bachelor hit a new zenith with a number higher than any from this or last season. It just about tied an all-original CBS comedy lineup and boosted Castle back into the 10/9c lead (and a season high of its own).
  • It was also a positive night for Fox, as week five of The Following provided a huge sigh of relief after a couple massive drops recently. It looks like we can keep the conversation at the "Is this a legit success?" level rather than having to resort to the "Will this get renewed?" level.
  • On the negative side, CW Monday reached new depths with The Carrie Diaries and 90210. I guess their audience is all bailing to watch The Bachelor?

The True Top 25, Week Ending 2/17/13 (2012-13 Week 21)

The Big Bang Theory led the True Top 25 for the second straight week. Despite an 11% raw numbers drop week-to-week, it was about even in True2 (at close to its season high point) due to a noticeable Valentine's Day drop in overall viewing on Thursday.

V-Day wasn't the only oddity this week. The median program was down 7% from its last original, the worst trend (excluding the end-of-December weeks with few originals) since week two of the season. It's the third straight year that there's been a sizable collective downturn in the post-Grammys week. In addition to Thursday, Wednesday was also mysteriously low-viewed; see how high all the Wednesday shows stack up compared to their raw numbers scores. And most of the Tuesday crowd was pre-empted for the State of the Union.

If this week was any indication, we may have to start a "Sunday Watch," because zero shows from that high-viewed and mostly original evening made the list. (The Amazing Race, Family Guy and Once Upon a Time were all close.) Though I put a lot of the blame on the shows themselves, this night has always been a challenge for this metric. Perhaps it's worth considering some kind of blanket "cable competition" bonus, because it's clear the broadcasters are struggling in the Sunday battle lately. We'll see if things look any better in two weeks after the Oscars.

Spotted Ratings, Sunday 2/17/13

  • How much of ABC Sunday's drop through the event season gauntlet was purely about competition and how much was "real" damage? If their first relatively event-free Sunday since early January was any indication... a lot of "real." Once Upon a Time went up just two ticks week-to-week and only managed to tie its result from two episodes ago against the AFC Championship game. Revenge got a better bounce, but it still made up less than half of what had fallen away over the last month and a half. The shows can still hope that some Academy Awards exposure and a likely stronger 10/9c hour with the Red Widow premiere will lift things up a bit more.
  • Things didn't go much better on CBS or Fox. The Amazing Race had a modest return (down 11% year-to-year), but it was still the top broadcast program on this mess of an evening. (It also edged Wednesday's disappointing Survivor premiere after finals.) The Good Wife and The Cleveland Show hit further season lows and The Mentalist and the other Fox cartoons were pretty close.
  • Week two of The Walking Dead (11 million viewers and a 5.6) will be the top demo program of the week, edging a Valentine's Day The Big Bang Theory, though it was down around 10% from last week's premiere. TNT also crushed the broadcasters with the NBA All-Star Game (3.5), up two ticks year-to-year.

Spotted Ratings, Saturday 2/16/13

  • NASCAR's back, and it comfortably won another very bland Saturday night. It was a tick above the last primetime race in October but well below the year-ago race (which got a 2.1 on 2/18/12).

Spotted Ratings, Friday 2/15/13

  • Last week, I said the only consolation for The Job's horrible premiere number was that it didn't appear to damage the rest of the CBS evening. This week, The Job was down two ticks, and the "damage to the rest of the CBS evening" arrived in earnest with a huge drop from CSI: NY, which tied the number it got on the second and final Friday of Made in Jersey's run. Don't expect to see another Job. (Updated: TOLDJA!)
  • Fox's Touch also took a big post-premiere tumble and is now well below its Kitchen Nightmares lead-in (not to mention Fringe's 1.0ish fall average). But Fox may be less likely to pull this one in the super-short term. (We rehashed Fox's "lack of replacements" issue enough this fall.) Most other big four programs were down about a tick from last week.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A18-49+: What's a "Hit For Friday"?

When I introduced the whole A18-49+ project last spring, I came up with basic "labels" to help grasp what these historically adjusted numbers actually mean. Those labels are helpful (to me anyway), but in some cases they have little to no value. Perhaps some would revel in the opportunity to call every single CW show a "flop," and virtually all fall within the "flop" A18-49+ label. But that perspective is detached from the reality of the network's decision-making. Flops get cancelled, and the CDub doesn't cancel everything (whether they should or not). And plenty of Friday shows can survive or thrive even with ratings that the A18-49+ labelling system would call "flop" or maybe "marginal."

These labels are not meant to suggest that a "hit for Friday" or a "hit for CW" would be a real hit if scheduled on a big four weeknight, just that they're top performers in that environment.

Today I'll try to devise new labels to cover Friday shows. I'll do the CW portion sometime soon, probably next week. I'd like to do this for cable shows and maybe summer broadcast shows as well, but those will take more thought. Particularly cable.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Question Two, Tuesday 2/19/13: Can the CW Change its Tuesday Culture?

 Doubleheader day! Play the Body of Proof game now!

The CW premieres its fifth and final new drama of the season tonight, a ridiculous show scheduled ridiculously called Cult. In Hart of Dixie it will have a lead-in both weak and wildly incompatible, and the show failed to launch a much more similar show (Emily Owens M.D.) this fall. But Cult seems a little more in line with what's working on the CDub of late, and it's led by a familiar face from The Vampire Diaries. Can the CW change its Tuesday Culture? That's Question Two for Tuesday, February 19, 2013.

The Question, Tuesday 2/19/13: Will ABC Proof It Made the Right Renewal?

Doubleheader day! Look for the Cult Question at 2:00 ET.

One of the most surprising renewals of 2012 upfront season was ABC's sophomore procedural Body of Proof, a show that struggled to hit a 2.0 demo with a good Dancing with the Stars lead-in and was much lower without that lead-in. It's back tonight with DWTS' return still a month away. The good news: ABC has a special Tuesday The Bachelor leading in, and its broadcast competitors in the slot are very weak. Will ABC Proof it made the right renewal? That's The Question for Tuesday, February 19, 2013.

Monday, February 18, 2013

First/Last Two Weeks, Do No Harm

We now live in a world in which a broadcast scripted show can premiere below a 1.0 in the demo. Do No Harm began its run with a new lowest big four scripted in-season premiere ever, hitting just a 0.9 demo. (Of note is that last year's NBC comedy Bent also averaged a 0.9 in its one-hour premiere, but that was treated as two separate episodes... so its "premiere" was officially credited as a 1.0.) That was less than half of its lead-in's rating (The Office), and it dropped from 1.0 to 0.8 at the halfway mark, as if that were somehow meaningful at these levels. Dead on arrival.

The Climate, Week 20: The Walking Dead is Even Bigger Than You Think

It's become a twice-yearly tradition on my Twitter feed: "The Walking Dead returns with a new series high! Its ratings are right up there with some high-rated broadcast program! Great ratings!" That sort of tweet times about 20. If I were only a casual ratings follower, I think my eyes would sort of start to glaze over at this stuff. Every single time, it's a new record, it's right up there with the broadcasters and it's doing great. At some point when it's happening every single time it doesn't seem all that newsworthy anymore.

Anyone who follows anyone who ever says anything about ratings knows it's doing "great." Maybe that's all that a renewal/cancellation-focused fan needs to know. But for the people with a larger industry interest, there are degrees of great. And as I've been saying for years, just "great" isn't enough for this show. Is there a way to put this show's ascendancy into a context more fitting than some of the more traditional comparisons? I dunno. But I'm going to point out some of the problems with the traditional comparisons, and then I'll take a couple stabs at doing better.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Question, Sunday 2/17/13: What Are Revenge's Ratings for Real?

In the fall, it looked like ABC's move of Revenge to Sunday had worked out well enough; it hadn't exactly broken out, but being even year-to-year is nothing to sneeze at. 2013 has been a different story; event season has taken a heavy toll, and if I didn't know better I would almost suspect ABC was intentionally giving the show as much competition as possible. Three big event airings have chewed a full point out of Revenge, leaving some question about where its "real" level is now that the competition is clearing up a bit. What are Revenge's ratings for real? That's The Question for Sunday, February 17, 2013.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

SpotVault - 2012-13 Index

This is a sortable list of series and ratings averages for the 2012-13 season, including every series that has a page in the SpotVault or War of 18-49. For the first time, it is also a filterable list, meaning you can boil the table down to just one network, one category of programming or only new shows. (The striped formatting looks kinda ugly when filtered, but hopefully that is worth the added functionality.)

SpotVault - Zero Hour (ABC) - 2012-13 Ratings

Zero Hour
Thursdays, 8/7c, ABC

SpotVault - Survivor (CBS) - Spring 2013 Ratings

Wednesdays, 9/8c, CBS

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Question Results Through 2/14/13

Here are the results and individual standings through February 14 for the ratings prediction game The Question. There should be a Sunday game up sometime this weekend!

Spotted Ratings, Thursday 2/14/13

  • Though Valentine's Day is not one of the bigger drains on overall viewing among the holidays (overall usage was 6% below last Thursday), it has the same kind of general effect as most holidays: it tends to hurt younger and female-skewing shows more than older-skewing ones. The networks that best fit that description are ABC, Fox and the CW, where American Idol, Grey's Anatomy, Glee and The Vampire Diaries had pretty ugly results. Defying that gravity was the red-hot Scandal, though it dropped in finals and also fell back behind its Grey's Anatomy lead-in.
  • At 8/7c, ABC had the low-rated series premiere of drama Zero Hour, which will be fortunate if it can get through its order.
  • Week two of sans Dan Harmon Community brought another meltdown, this one even steeper than the spring 2012 collapse recalled last week; it was nearly 40% below last week's surprisingly strong start. This drop is big enough that blaming Valentine's doesn't really do it. It was gonna collapse either way. It might be able to hope for a small rally next week, but it doesn't appear "completely safe" is going to be the consistent level. Parks and Recreation was also down significantly, but it was more within the range of what would be expected given Valentine's and the lead-in difference.
  • The youngest-skewing CBS show, The Big Bang Theory, was down a little over 10% in the half-hour likely most affected in usage, but the rest of the lineup was as always pretty resilient.

War of 18-49 Update, The Amazing Race (Fall 2012)

Let's take a look at the fall 2012 season (the twenty-first overall) of The Amazing Race on CBS.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Question, Thursday 2/14/13: Will ABC Have Zero Success in the 8:00 Hour?

Tonight, conspiracy thriller Zero Hour will become the seventh different drama to premiere in ABC's Thursday 8:00 hour in four seasons since they moved Ugly Betty away. They've aired as many as 22 episodes (Flashforward) and as few as two (My Generation), but the second season has been elusive for them all. It'll be an uphill battle to end the streak with conspiracy thriller Zero Hour, a show both off-brand and mixed to poorly reviewed. Will ABC have Zero success in the 8:00 Hour? That's The Question for Thursday, February 14, 2013.

Spotted Ratings, Wednesday 2/13/13

  • Not a happy night in eye land. CBS' Survivor had a borderline disastrous return, down over 20% from the premiere last spring and below virtually all the ratings from the fall season. And a last-minute shrinking of the program to 90 minutes led to a low-rated The Big Bang Theory repeat at 9:30, which likely helped derail CSI at 10:00.
  • ABC's The Middle was another 8/7c head-scratcher, and the American Idol bleeding continues; this point was down a whooping 30% year-to-year. But other than all that... pretty steady evening on broadcast!
  • A couple unfortunate stories in the cable ratings:
    • The Americans followed its solid 1.2 premiere with just a 0.85 in week two, and now it's down to an increasingly marginal 0.7 in week three.
    • And the rough winter continues for TNT, which debuted season five of Southland (0.4) at a new series low. About the only consolation there is that at least it ain't Monday Mornings.
    • Why was CBS' Big Bang repeat so low? The late listings change was surely part of it, but it also had to compete with TBS, where the TBBT repeat crowd usually hangs out. The CBS repeat only tied the 9:30 TBS repeat (1.4).

The War of 18-49, Royal Pains


Scheduling history: The first two summer runs of Royal Pains were paired with USA's then-biggest hit Burn Notice. For many years after that, it led off original nights for USA, including a Wednesday slot leading into Necessary Roughness for three summers and a Tuesday slot in 2014. It was back to the 10:00 hour in season seven, leading out of Chrisley Knows Best on Tuesday.

See (who saw) how it all began: I would label the summer of 2009 as the peak of USA Network's basic cable dominance, and new show Royal Pains was a huge part of it. It debuted on June 4, 2009 to 5.57 million viewers and a 1.7 demo rating, holding onto nearly all of its Burn Notice lead-in (5.99m, 1.9). Then Royal Pains actually grew in its second and third weeks, to a 1.8 on June 11 and then a 2.1 on June 18 that remains the series high.

The best of times: Royal Pains was at its strongest in its first nine episodes airing after Burn Notice. After getting as high as the aforementioned 2.1 on 6/18/09, the show settled in the general 1.9 vicinity for the next six episodes. Then Royal Pains actually didn't drop that much in its last three eps of that season, after Burn Notice had gone (going 1.5 -> 1.7 -> 1.7). And the show was down only a bit from those peak days in the summer half of season two, also after Burn Notice; it started and ended that run at a 1.8 and usually hit about a 1.6 in between.

The worst of times: Even when Royal Pains was at or near its prime, it was still not much of a performer in the regular season. Every single episode of the early 2011 run rated below every single episode from both the preceding and the following summer. And it got even worse in 2012, when it looked like the show had passed its prime. Then the show had real struggles the last couple summers, when it was barely able to rebound even from its weak winter numbers, then fell below them. The show tanked all the way to a new low 0.23 demo on 5/18/16.

Then vs. now: USA had another successful new show in 2009 called White Collar. Contrasting those two is interesting education about the whole 'split-season' technique used by many cable networks. In seasons two and three, Royal Pains had a higher ceiling and a lower floor than White Collar; in other words, Royal Pains had better ratings than White Collar in the summer when cable nets really take over the TV landscape, but it also had worse ratings in the winter when it had to deal with full-fledged competition. While there are advertising/scheduling incentives behind the split season, even if the ratings are lower in the winter, there should also be a point at which you use some discernment when deciding what to split. Some shows are just built for the summer. After two years of massive drops in the winter and armed with an increased inventory of shows, USA wisely opted to make this one of their summer-only shows. They were not exactly rewarded, because Pains took further hits in each of the last four seasons, but it probably would've gotten even uglier if they'd tried dragging it back into the winter landscape.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

1Summer 2009Thursday 10:001.801.502.10detail
2Summer 20101.641.501.80detail
Winter 2011Thursday 9:
3Summer 2011Wednesday 9:001.46-11%1.301.70detail
Winter 2012Wednesday 10:000.89-19%0.761.06
4Summer 2012Wednesday 9:000.98-33%0.801.15detail
5Summer 20130.79-19%0.680.91detailC-
6Summer 2014Tuesday 9:000.52-34%0.430.62detailD-
7Summer 2015Tuesday 10:000.35-33%0.280.41detailD+
8Summer 2016Wednesday 10:000.28-19%0.230.34detailB-

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

1Summer 20096050705757
2Summer 20105853646464
Winter 20114339474343
3Summer 20115751675551
Winter 20123832453833
4Summer 20124134494134
5Summer 20133732433438
6Summer 20142823333329
7Summer 20152117242422
8Summer 20161916231621

The War of 18-49 chronicles the ratings history of veteran primetime series. For more, see the Index.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Question, Wednesday 2/13/13: Will This Survivor Season be a Fan Favorite?

Tonight, slumping Survivor returns after dropping 14% in spring 2012 and 15% in the fall. This season marks the return of the "Fans vs. Favorites" concept. For most reality shows, all-star seasons haven't been all that big a deal ratings-wise. Survivor is arguably an exception; the first all-star season in 2004 was the only significantly up year-to-year season in Survivor history (the Super Bowl exposure may have helped too), and even the first Fans vs. Favorites season in 2008 helped slow the bleeding amid one of Survivor's previous slumps. Will this Survivor season be a fan favorite? That's The Question for Wednesday, Feburary 13, 2013.

Spotted Ratings, Tuesday 2/12/13

  • The big four simulcast the State of the Union Address from 9:00 to 10:30 ET. Timeslot-based preliminaries have the big four averaging in the upper 4's combined (mostly well below last year's prelims), but there won't be finals since there were no ads.
  • The only original of the evening was ABC's The Taste, down three tenths week-to-week, but on such an atypical evening this result doesn't mean much.

Spotted Ratings, Monday 2/11/13

  • Are we headed for a third straight season of inexplicable ratings downturns in the week after the Grammys? If CBS and Fox are any indication, it looks like a possibility. Six of seven shows on those networks were down multiple ticks from last week, including a fairly worrying week four from The Following. And The Carrie Diaries gave back its entire rally from last week. Among returnees, the downswing was most felt in the hour that appeared to get the Super Monday bounce: How I Met Your Mother (3.2) was down 20%, and Rules of Engagement (2.8) also lost three tenths post-premiere.
  • But ABC and NBC defied that potential gravity; The Bachelor hit its highest Monday number yet, and The Biggest Loser, Deception and Castle were even-ish to up. So the jury is still out.

War of 18-49 Update, Survivor (Fall 2012)

Let's take a look at the fall 2012 season (the twenty-fifth overall) of Survivor on CBS.

The True Top 25, Week Ending 2/10/13 (2012-13 Week 20)

In a bit of a shocker, the season's most impressive The Big Bang Theory and its 6.2 demo topped the Grammy Awards and its 10.1 on the True Top 25. BBT had much more competition in a timeslot where there are over five percentage points fewer 18-49ers using TV, and that was enough to make the difference. Does this mean that a three-hour The Big Bang Theory original would do better than a 10.1 in the Grammys' timeslot? Well, it's supposed to, but I wouldn't go that far.

(To get a little inside baseball: if I applied the same competition add-on as for sports events, the Grammys would have an 8.55. This is supposed to account for the fact that huge sports events drastically drive up overall viewing but don't get credit for the broadcast viewing, creating a much less competitive situation than it actually is. It didn't appear that specials, even the huge ones, had as much of an effect on overall viewing as big sports events, but it's perhaps worth reconsidering that.)

In a basically full-strength week, the two things I usually keep an eye on (Friday/Saturday and new shows) were almost totally unrepresented. The Following was the lone new show (though Chicago Fire (27th) and Elementary (28th) were very close), and nobody on Friday made it with Shark Tank having a bit of an off week. (It came in 31st.)

Spotted Ratings, Sunday 2/10/13

  • CBS' Grammy Awards were naturally down big from the Whitney Houston-fueled ceremony last year, but they returned to about the same level as the still very strong 2011 (10.0) and 2010 (9.9) airings, so that's pretty impressive nonetheless.
  • ABC and Fox went original on this mega-crowded night (with AMC's The Walking Dead also back), and all of their 8:00 to 10:00 originals dropped by multiple tenths from their last airings two or three weeks ago. Ugliest was Revenge, a show that rang in the new year with a 2.4 on January 6 but has now dropped at least three tenths in each airing since. It should rally once it finally gets away from all these huge events, but at this point it's going to have to rally a lot to be considered as safe as it was in the fall. ABC also brought back reality filler Revenge for Real (0.8) at 10/9c, which barely managed half of last year's 1.4 premiere.
  • Thought it might be interesting to compare year-to-year, since most of these ABC and Fox shows were also original on this night last year against a stronger CBS: Once Upon a Time (-27%), Revenge (-22% vs. Desperate Housewives), The Simpsons (even), Bob's Burgers (even vs. Napoleon Dynamite), Family Guy (even) and American Dad! (+11%).
  • As for the aforementioned The Walking Dead, it returned to yet another new record with 12.3 million total viewers and 7.7 million 18-49 viewers. The latter works out to a 6.1 rating, which is a tick behind this week's The Big Bang Theory but still one of the very biggest ratings for an entertainment program this season, broadcast or cable. I'm probably forgetting something but I believe it's the biggest rating for a drama (excluding post-Super Bowl) since Grey's Anatomy got a 6.1 on October 1, 2009!

Spotted Ratings, Saturday 2/9/13

  • ABC won on the back of movie Despicable Me, one of their strongest movie offerings of the season to date. Only it and the regular originals on CBS/Fox could crack a 1.0.

Spotted Ratings, Friday 2/8/13: Choke Job

  • I've mentioned earlier in the season that CBS had ample opportunity to give midseasoner The Job a better launching pad than starting it at 8/7c on a Friday. Their failure to do so probably didn't bode well. But I was still surprised The Job couldn't even manage Made in Jersey premiere or repeat Undercover Boss numbers. I didn't think that was a huge ask considering it had multiple Super Bowl promos five days ago. Another "two-and-through" situation seems very possible here. The consolation is that, unlike Made In Jersey, it didn't appear to much hurt the rest of the CBS evening; perhaps the end of the CSI crossover on CSI: NY helped with that.
  • The two-hour return of Touch on Fox was at more as-expected levels of floppage; it was of course a mere shadow of its post-American Idol level from last spring. It was about equal to the fall average of Fringe.
  • Other 8/7c occupants may have benefited from CBS' struggles, though several shows went down a tick in finals, perhaps due to local pre-emptions for weather coverage. NBC's night-of-all-newsmagazines still had a rather decent start as the two-hour Dateline and the Friday premiere of Rock Center were near the high end.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Climate, Weeks 18/19: NBC is Back, and NBC is Beyond Repair

NBC won premiere week in adults 18-49 for the first time since 2003 (the final season of Friends), then they won November sweeps for the first time since 2003. For most of this season, they were the only network up year-to-year (and they were up a lot) while everyone else was down double digits. Football deserves a huge share of the credit, but even in entertainment programming averages, NBC was quite competitive; when I last posted about the network race in week seven, they had an ever-so-narrow lead on CBS. The NBC entertainment average got as high as a 106 A18-49+ on several occasions. That was an eye-opening accomplishment for a network that hadn't finished any of the previous six seasons with an entertainment A18-49+ better than 88. And their new shows seemed the least disastrous of a very weak fall crop; they had the biggest new drama (Revolution), the biggest new comedy (Go On) and a slow-burn success in Chicago Fire.

But 2013 brought NBC a huge quintuple-whammy: 1) Go On completely melted down without the support of its fall lead-in The Voice; 2) 1600 Penn looked weak in its Thursday debut and was pretty clearly dunzo by week two; 3) Deception, after at least a somewhat reasonable start, was essentially done for by week three; 4) Do No Harm had the lowest-rated big four scripted premiere ever; and 5) Robert Greenblatt's pet project Smash bombed out of the gate in its second season premiere. Barely two months removed from their November sweeps victory, a Vulture post asks: "Has NBC Passed the Point of No Return?"

Two months ago, NBC was back. Now they're so not back that they're actually beyond saving! How could it have changed so quickly?!

Short answer: it didn't. They were never back, and they're still not beyond repair. Here's the long answer.

War of 18-49 Update, Sons of Anarchy (2012)

Let's take a look at the 2012 season (the fifth overall) of Sons of Anarchy on FX.

SpotVault - Touch (Fox) - 2012-13 Ratings

Fridays, 9/8c, Fox

SpotVault - The Job (CBS) - 2012-13 Ratings

The Job
Fridays, 8/7c, CBS

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Question, Friday 2/8/13: Will Either of These Jobs Have the Friday Touch?

 Tonight brings two premieres, both of about equally little interest (to me anyway). CBS' unscripted job interview show The Job fills in for Undercover Boss for a few weeks and would be very happy to manage the same level as Boss, which has remained one of the leaders of Friday night. And Kiefer Sutherland's Touch is back after fading fast down the stretch last season. It may well have trouble just getting to the same levels as Fringe, which had a rough go on Friday the last couple years. I'm not sure why anyone would be interested in a "spread" between the two; I'm more interested in whether either will show any signs of life. So I'm doing the sum of the two. Will either of these Jobs have the Friday Touch?

Touch PLUS The Job Over/Under: 2.35.

Spotted Ratings, Thursday 2/7/13

  • What an odd week for NBC. Community had a very strong return, up two ticks from the fall 2011 premiere and miles above the 1.3/1.4 that had become the show's extremely consistent level late last season. It's well beyond what I would've imagined, so you're gonna have to look elsewhere for "why this happened," because I got nothin'. I'll remind that the show's last eye-opening result (the 2.2 in its return from hiatus in March 2012) had become a 1.3 to 1.4 within three weeks, but this is still a big win. And it helped boost Parks and Recreation to its best numbers since late 2011.
  • But if the 8:00 hour was Jekyll, the second half of the evening remains Hyde, as 1600 Penn and Do No Harm were each down two ticks to essentially hit "repeat of anything" levels. I'd be rather surprised if we see another Do No Harm in that slot.
  • It was also one heck of an evening for the situation comedy on CBS, where The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men took steps up in their second try against a suddenly fast-bleeding American Idol. But CBS, as expected, saw basically no post-Super Bowl bounce from Elementary.
  • Grey's Anatomy and Scandal were both up for ABC, with the latter back into a tie with its January 10 series high point.

War of 18-49 Update, America's Next Top Model (Fall 2012)

Let's take a look at the 2012 season (the nineteenth overall) of America's Next Top Model on the CW.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Question, Thursday 2/7/13: How Big is the Community of Viewers?

It's often said that the best way to improve your renewal odds on NBC is to stay off the air, just sit in the clubhouse and watch the carnage pile up on other fronts. It's certainly worked for Community this season; a fall of "peacocking comedy" produced only one show with any real separation (Parks and Recreation) and a total morass of confusing low-ratedness. But now Community can't just point and laugh at the others anymore. It's back into the fray starting tonight. Creator Dan Harmon is out, but the brutal timeslot remains. How big is the Community of viewers? That's The Question for Monday, February 4, 2013.

Spotted Ratings, Wednesday 2/6/13

  • Yesterday I suggested the gap may have closed somewhat between CSI and Chicago Fire over the two months they haven't faced each other. After finals it ended up as the smallest gap the two have had (aside from when CF had a Voice boost), but CSI and Chicago Fire were each down multiple ticks from their last airings not against the other. It's still a great result for NBC considering how much of a rout it is at 9/8c between Criminal Minds and Law and Order: SVU. The hour's biggest disappointment was ABC's Nashville, whose brief return to 2.0+ levels now feels like a long time ago.
  • Everyone being original took a toll in the first two hours, too, where usual leaders American Idol and Modern Family were both way behind previous results. Most other shows were near the low end.

War of 18-49 Update, Burn Notice (2012)

Let's take a look at the 2012 season (the sixth overall) of Burn Notice on USA.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Question, Wednesday 2/6/13: Is Chicago Still on Fire Against CSI?

One of the season's triumphs in scheduling that nobody's talked about is the way NBC has kept new drama Chicago Fire's originals away from CBS' CSI originals for almost two months. The first seven Chicago Fire episodes (and eight of the first nine) aired against original CSI, but since December 19 the show has aired four times, and CSI twice, without the two ever meeting. During that time, Chicago Fire has blossomed, hitting 2.0+ demos in its last three episodes. But it's still not quite clear how many inroads it's really made. We'll get some insight tonight, as February sweeps finally brings them back together. Is Chicago still on Fire against CSI? That's The Question for Wednesday, February 6, 2013.

Spotted Ratings, Tuesday 2/5/13

  • So, Smash got a 1.2 demo in its second season premiere. I expected one OK week and then a collapse, but we got a collapse right out of the gate, as the show only managed about 60% of its late-season level after The Voice. It had a preliminary 1.3 in the 9:00 half-hour and got as low as a 1.0 by 10:30. It was clear the show was getting a large assist from The Voice last season, but, as with Go On, the extent of that is surprising. Now it's off next week and returns in two weeks after The New Normal. How many people are gonna show up for that? And who really cares at this point? The show had little help from the sequel to last year's Betty White 90th Birthday special, down nearly half from last year (but still not as much as Smash)!
  • The news elsewhere was brighter. ABC had a surprisingly strong Tuesday episode of The Bachelor, which actually did better than the Monday episode despite a special night. Does this tell us something about how wide-open things remain on Tuesday? That mojo may have helped with a week-three bounce-back for The Taste.
  • Fox remained solid at 9/8c with New Girl, and The Mindy Project is looking increasingly respectable in recent weeks.
  • On CBS, last week's Vegas surge was short-lived, as some actual things going on at 10/9c helped send it way down. It adjusted down in finals to tie its low.

Spotted Ratings, Monday 2/4/13

  • The "Super Monday" bounce for CBS was really only evident in the 8:00 hour, where How I Met Your Mother hit a new season high and Rules of Engagement had an expectedly solid return, coming back well above its spring post-The Big Bang Theory level. The other hours have to be considered disappointments; 2 Broke Girls, Mike and Molly and Hawaii Five-0 were even to down slightly from their last originals.
  • Almost everything else was also down, especially Fox, where Bones and week three of The Following each dropped back following last week's growth. And the winner of The Bachelor vs. The Biggest Loser now appears clear. Are we now on the doorstep of seeing, at least for a month or so, a network where nothing gets a 2.0?
  • A notable exception to the slippage was the CW, where The Carrie Diaries had a very good week four, bouncing up to above the premiere number.

War of 18-49 Update, 30 Rock (2012-13)

Let's take a look at the 2012-13 season (the seventh and final overall) of 30 Rock on NBC.

The True Top 25, Week Ending 2/3/13 (2012-13 Week 19)

The NFL was back for one last domination of the True Top 25; the Super Bowl had over seven times the raw numbers of anything else this week and about five times the True2 score.

The Big Bang Theory beat both nights of American Idol in the first week of the season in which both aired. Several of the Monday to Wednesday staples sat out on their last night before February sweeps began. Three new shows actually made the list this time, led by a promising second week of The Following. And Shark Tank and Undercover Boss both represented the Friday crowd, the latter in its last airing before going to hiatus so CBS can air The Job.

Spotted Ratings, Super Bowl Sunday 2/3/13

  • UPDATE (finals): The Super Bowl ended up with a 39.7 average demo, which was down by 2% from last year's 40.5. The final total viewership was slightly adjusted up to 108.69 million viewers, also down 2%. Nielsen's broadcast top 25 included a separate number for the delay (38.9), which was down a bit from the 8:00 half-hour number (40.2). The game rating quickly rebounded after the delay to a 40.5 from the resumption through 9:30, then grew as high as 42.9 by the end.

Spotted Ratings, Saturday 2/2/13

  • The second annual NFL Honors awards show was another low-rated affair. It pulled the same 0.9 rating as last year.

Spotted Ratings, Friday 2/1/13

  • It was a boringly steady evening for most Friday shows. The only movement of real note was that Kitchen Nightmares and Nikita both regressed from the season highs they posted against no real competition last week.
  • NBC had the two-hour NAACP Image Awards, which hit the same rating as last year.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Question, Tuesday 2/5/13: Will NBC Smash the Expectations?

Yes, folks, NBC is back... to where they were a year ago. That's been the harsh reality of almost all of NBC's between-Voice hiatus. 365 days after NBC's 2012 big Super Monday, NBC premieres the same show they launched on that night: the Broadway drama Smash. Hopes are not quite so high this year; despite its surprising Golden Globe nomination, it lost almost all its critical support over the course of season one. And this year, it loses its big lead-in. Will NBC Smash the expectations? That's The Question for Tuesday, February 5, 2013.

The War of 18-49, Drop Dead Diva


Scheduling history: Aside from the second half of the two-hour second season finale and sixth season premiere, all of Drop Dead Diva's run aired on Sundays at 9:00.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Question, Monday 2/4/13: Can CBS Engage 8:30 Viewers on Super Monday?

The show that won't die is back. Rules of Engagement begins its seventh (!) season tonight, and it's coming off a year in which its 18-49 average actually upticked slightly due to a surging The Big Bang Theory lead-in. It won't have quite as favorable a timeslot this year, returning to the Monday 8:30 hour to pair with How I Met Your Mother. But it might benefit from the promotion for the Monday lineup during last night's Super Bowl. Can CBS Engage 8:30 viewers on Super Monday? That's The Question for Monday, February 4, 2013.

War of 18-49 Update, Gossip Girl (2012-13)

Let's take a look at the 2012 season (the sixth and final overall) of Gossip Girl on the CW.

First Two Weeks, The Following

Kevin Bacon's The Following continued in the recent Fox Monday tradition of premiering in the low 3's (The Mob Doctor excepted). It began with a 3.2 demo, making it the second-strongest drama premiere of the season to date. Considering it faced pretty much the "normal" winter competition (CBS original comedies, The Bachelor, The Biggest Loser) and it did so largely as a self-starter (lead-in Bones had a 2.3), that was a pretty solid start.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Question Results Through 1/31/13

Here are the results and individual standings through January 31 for the ratings prediction game The Question:

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Question, Sunday 2/3/13: Will Elementary Be a Super Lead-out?

EDIT: Not sure it'll matter, but I'm cutting off entries for this one at 6:00pm ET on Super Bowl Sunday.

On Sunday, TV's biggest night is back. Many will be most curious about whether the Super Bowl can once again set a record for most-viewed event in the history of television. But for TV ratings junkies, the performance of the lead-out program is arguably more interesting. Successful lead-outs like Grey's Anatomy, Undercover Boss and The Voice have been launched to great heights by the exposure. For less-viewed lead-outs, the ad rates may be huge, but the long-term ratings needle doesn't move at all. Will Elementary be a super lead-out? That's The Question for Sunday, February 3, 2013.

Spotted Ratings, Thursday 1/31/13: DOA No Harm

  • I thought I was predicting Do No Harm would be dead on arrival, but as most of y'all knew, it was even deader than that... by a long shot. It began with a 0.9 demo, which I believe ties last spring's Bent as the lowest in-season weeknight scripted premiere on the big four evah. It couldn't. Even. Premiere. Above. The. Rock Center. Average. This will present a pretty tough situation for NBC, especially considering 1600 Penn will be the lead-in going forward. This is what I would do.
  • To make Do No Harm look even more brutal, NBC was respectable in the first two hours, especially with the spiking series finale of 30 Rock. That was the show's biggest number since the middle of last season.
  • Fox's recent string of strong nights finally ended as American Idol got its first dose of original The Big Bang Theory and dropped by about 15% from last week. Glee continued what has become a pretty consistent tradition of dropping large in its second week back from hiatus. That is a pretty pathetic level for an Idol lead-out. Fox should be better utilizing this slot, but with what???
  • As for Big Bang, it had a strong outing and killed Idol head-to-head, but it was noticeably below its early 2013 romps against little competition. Person of Interest held the closest to those recent numbers among the CBS shows, while Elementary limped into its post-Super Bowl showcase with a lower-end outing.
  • To round out a pretty interesting night, Scandal has juuuust about closed the gap with Grey's Anatomy, and Beauty and the Beast continues to show some surprising signs of not-complete-ineptitude in its early 2013 run.

War of 18-49 Update, Fringe (2012-13)

Let's take a look at the 2012 season (the fifth and final overall) of Fringe on Fox.

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