Monday, June 24, 2013

A18-49+: 2006-07 Season Recap


In the spring I did season-by-season recaps of the three old years added to the fold: 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2005-06. I liked those so much that I've decided to do them for every single year of the decade across which A18-49+ era is available. Last week started with 2012-13, and today we loop back to 2006-07.

The links below in each category are to the old theme posts (most 2006-12), but I will update these links as the new theme posts come out over the course of the summer.

Defining Shows/Overall Thoughts:

2006-07 was a season marked by a couple great foundational changes in primetime. Coming into the season, these two things were reliable: ABC would have Monday Night Football in the fall, and there would be two "netlets" duking it out at the bottom of the standings. And both were wiped away in 2006-07. Broadcast primetime football moved nights (to Sunday) and networks (to NBC), though at least initially the ratings didn't meaningfully change; the raw numbers were virtually identical, and it grew in A18-49+ from 155 -> 170.

And the WB and UPN combined their best programming into new network the CW, a move that did indeed create a stronger network than either of them had been in their last couple years... but not by all that much. The network was topped by a huge couple cycles from UPN refugee America's Next Top Model (67/67) and WB scripted offerings Gilmore Girls (52) and Smallville (51), but it really whiffed on its few new shows.

Meanwhile on the big four, ABC was having its clear best season in the A18-49+ era, and one of just two (along with 2007-08) in which it finished in the top two in entertainment average. The most splash-worthy news was its move of Grey's Anatomy (251) to Thursday, as the show peaked in the ratings and took a big chunk out of CBS' CSI (223 -> 185). Desperate Housewives (202) and Lost (156) weakened somewhat but remained very potent options. And the real story was ABC developing a pretty decent schedule around its "big three" dramas. Dancing with the Stars (152/141 on the first night, 131/127 on the second night) became a twice-a-year tentpole, moving at midseason to fill the network's newly vacant Monday night. And newbies Brothers and Sisters (125) and Ugly Betty (106) finally gave the net some worthy dramas to accompany their 2004-05 trio.

Fox took another major step forward, with gigahit American Idol (315/313) firmly in its prime, House (212) making the leap to megahit in season three and the network very respectable on Monday with Prison Break (101) and 24 (128). The network finally found something that resonated a bit on Thursday with new unscripted effort Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? (129), which launched to huge numbers after Idol.

This year was about as bad as it gets for CBS, which was kind of in between the CSI/Survivor/Raymond era of the early aughts and the NCIS/comedies era of today. The CSI franchises (mothership (185), Miami (149) and NY (122)) were firmly on the downswing, and Survivor (146/124) fell again (to about the same level it's still at today). And it hadn't yet really started to take off with the things that make it so strong today; NCIS (98) was gradually becoming more valuable but still wasn't that special yet, Two and a Half Men (128) was still just barely a hit, and How I Met Your Mother (89) was still a bubble show. Newbies like Shark (103) and The Class (83) didn't particularly resonate; in fact, their only real new success was Rules of Engagement (122), introduced at the very end of the season.

NBC basically finished off its three-year post-Friends collapse as last remnants like ER (132) took yet another 20% dip and Law and Order (74) moved to Friday. They did have the best new show story of the season in Heroes (164), but the meltdown of The Apprentice (76) necessitated a return to two-hour comedy on Thursday. The results were mixed as The Office (110) had another promising season but My Name is Earl (102) had a sophomore slump. The network became incredibly reliant on game show Deal or No Deal (99), frequently skedded at least three times a week.

New Shows:



Total Flop Renew Solid Hit Big Hit
2006-07 34 18 12 6 2 1


Flop% Renew% Solid% Hit% BigHit%
2006-07 53% 35% 18% 6% 3%

Big Hits: Heroes (164)
Hits: Brothers & Sisters (125)
Solid: October Road (111), Rules of Engagement (108), Ugly Betty (106), Shark (103)
Sub-solid renewals: 'Til Death (77), Men in Trees (75), Jericho (72), 30 Rock (69), Notes from the Underbelly (66), Friday Night Lights (61)

Renews by network: ABC 5, CBS 3, NBC 3, Fox 1

Most of the big picture numbers say this was a fairly average class, and Heroes was one of the top five new shows of the last decade. There were a couple more flops than you might expect from a 34-show class, but the other numbers are almost exactly in line with the ten-year percentages.

However, this class is actually considerably hurt by looking at future seasons. Five of the 11 renewals did not make it beyond season two. The crown jewel of the class, NBC's Heroes, flamed out in just four seasons. Other entries like Brothers & Sisters and Ugly Betty were decent players, but only for a few seasons. In fact, 2006-07 is the only scripted class of the A18-49+ era that's gone completely extinct, unless you count the CW's The Game, which moved to cable.

Networks:

Year ABC CBS NBC Fox UPN WB
2004-05 97 104 98 103 38 40
2005-06 101 105 84 113 35 39
2006-07 106 99 81 123 41

This was essentially the first year of Fox's five or six year "prime" as a network. With a couple exceptions, this low 120's number was Fox's pretty consistent level through 2011-12.

The inaugural season of the CW did better than either of the netlets individually in their last two seasons, but no better than UPN (41) and the WB (43) in 2003-04. Still, it was the CW's best year ever, though they would stay close to this 41 number (thanks in part to giving up on Sunday nights) until their sudden collapse in 2011-12.

Days of the Week:

Year Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Sunday
2004-05 108 106 109 121 128
2005-06 104 115 106 113 129
2006-07 109 120 105 122 112

The massive move of Grey's Anatomy to Thursday brought that night back to the day-of-the-week summit for the first time since Friends left, while its departure in favor of Brothers & Sisters and the continued Desperate Housewives decline hurt the Sunday numbers.

It was a really change-heavy season for Sunday. Not only was there the Grey's thing, but NBC took over Sunday Night Football (which doesn't count in the entertainment average) and CBS finally dropped its weekly movies and went all series, most notably importing Without a Trace (105). While the combo of Trace and Cold Case (97) actually did pretty well, especially compared to CBS' Sunday 9 to 11 offerings of today, it still helped to depress the Sunday average vs. previous seasons.

Time of Day

Year 8:00 8:30 9:00 9:30 10:00 10:30
2004-05 87 99 110 110 107 108
2005-06 85 101 110 111 105 105
2006-07* 96 114 95

This year was one of the most brutal seasons in the 10:00 hour's descent to its current level. Certainly the moving of Grey's Anatomy contributed to this in a big way, as did the continued decline of ER and several other 10:00 dramas.

*- I don't have the half-hour breakdowns entered for 2006-07 thru 2009-10, so for now I will break these seasons down by hour rather than by half-hour. They'll probably be a bit off, since two-hour telecasts won't be broken out exactly right, but they're close enough to get a good general idea by hour.

Repeats & Sports/Specials

Year Reruns Movies Sports Specials
2004-05 68 67 166 90
2005-06 66 55 146 81
2006-07 59 51 132 92

This year was the bottoming out for sports ratings, as the World Series and the NCAA basketball tournament were both a lot weaker than usual this year and the first year of Sunday Night Football hadn't really started its growth trajectory. It's all uphill from here in the sporting realm.



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