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:
2012-13 was the third TV season in which NBC broadcast The Voice, but it was the first in which they broadcast both a fall season (208/194) and a spring season (202/179 with two weeks to come). Not coincidentally, it was also the first time The Voice's impact was really felt in the network's season averages.
It was a real roller coaster of a season for NBC, which won November sweeps, then dropped behind Univision in February sweeps, then clawed its way back to respectability once The Voice returned. Putting it all together, though, the season was a major step forward for the long-distant fourth place peacock. Its standing in overall averages was a bit inflated by the ever-growing Sunday Night Football (387), but even in the series originals-only average (93) it was easily the network's best season since 2004-05.
Beyond The Voice, it was a very mixed bag at NBC. Their heavy investment in new comedies completely cratered, as not a single one (not even Go On (90), which had the post-Voice slot in the fall) survived. Their returnee-driven comedy Thursday continued its collapse, led by a disappointing final season out of The Office (101). But the drama picture was a little brighter with post-Voice newbie Revolution (122) and some rare Wednesday respectability out of Chicago Fire (87). And returning dramas Parenthood (87), Law and Order: SVU (82) and Grimm (77) all held up better than the league avearage this season.
NBC had a good season, but there's no denying that a big part of their resurgence in the relative standings had to do with the struggles elsewhere. The league average was down almost 11% year-to-year, the worst clip of the last ten years except for the writer's strike year of 2007-08.
CBS unsurprisingly won the season, marking the first time in nearly a decade that someone other than Fox pulled off the feat, but it followed up its historic season of sitcom dominance by premiering just one new comedy, Partners (98), which was gone by mid-November. Comedy returnees like 2 Broke Girls (160) and How I Met Your Mother (152) regressed amid the crowded Monday fray. Their only truly hot sitcom, The Big Bang Theory (249), was wasted by leading into decade-old Two and a Half Men (180). And new dramas Elementary (107) and Vegas (70) also disappointed.
Once-proud Fox took another huge step downward, as American Idol (185/175) was down yet another 25%+ on each night and The X Factor (139/132) also had a sophomore slump. The fall was a nightmare; the network's four-comedy Tuesday played out in the worst-case way with second-year New Girl (109) dipping significantly between weak newbies Ben and Kate (64) and The Mindy Project (74). But Fox did get a little redemption as they launched the season's only new hit The Following (125) at midseason.
ABC continued its slow depreciation, bringing up the rear in overall averages (though it virtually tied NBC in entertainment average). Like Fox, ABC was mostly defined by an underwhelming development class and the continued collapse of their reality tentpole, this time Dancing with the Stars (107/106 fall, 109/101 spring). There were a few random breakthrough seasons across the sked, from The Bachelor (131) to sophomore drama Scandal (119) to Friday king Shark Tank (88), but those were cancelled out by the DWTS problems and the struggling Sunday combo of Once Upon a Time (129) and Revenge (101), which failed to take the widely expected step forward.
Hits: The Following (125)
Solid: Revolution (122), Elementary (107)
Sub-solid renewals: Nashville (89), The Neighbors (88), Chicago Fire (87), The Mindy Project (74), Hannibal (57 + 2 weeks not counted)
Renews by network: ABC 2, CBS 1, NBC 3, Fox 2
Following the strong class of 2011-12, the big four networks ordered far fewer shows in 2012-13 (28, a huge drop from 40 the previous season), and they handed quite a few plumb timeslots to promising sophomores like Revenge, Suburgatory and Person of Interest. Their lack of interest in the new class was vindicated, I guess, as this was one of the very worst classes of the last decade. Only 2003-04 and 2008-09 had more flops by percentage, and only 2003-04 and 2010-11 saw fewer renewals by percentage. (If not for the miracle Hannibal renewal, this season actually would've had the lowest renewal percentage of the last ten.)
In thrilling fashion, The Following barely managed to keep this from becoming the only year without a single new hit. (In fact, if it hadn't adjusted up in finals on finale night, it'd have pulled a 124!)
A big part of why this season was bad for broadcast was the new comedy problem. CBS and ABC had incredible returnee strength and used it to produce just one renewal, The Neighbors (88), and it could've very well been cancelled. NBC axed its entire class, and only very marginal Mindy came out of Fox.
The rise of NBC meant this season had the greatest parity among the four networks since 2004-05, when it was 96 / 104 / 98 / 102. It was most evident in the final May sweeps results, when all four networks were separated by just a single tenth of a point. But I'll note this convergence is very different from the 2004-05 one; that season evened out because two networks were strongly trending up and only one (NBC) strongly trending down, whereas this season had three trending down and one (NBC) trending up.
The CW's 2011-12 might have been one of the worst broadcast network seasons in TV history. They followed it up by rallying to a tiny degree in 2012-13, mostly on the heels of their Wednesday of Arrow (50) and Supernatural (44) and a great year-to-year hold from The Vampire Diaries (59).
Days of the Week:
Looking at 2012-13 by day of the week, there were really two problematic fronts. The Tuesday problem was clear from the outset, as "attacks" of the evening like Vegas and The Mindy Project stumbled early, and it got even worse when Go On and The New Normal crumbled during The Voice's hiatus. And Sunday fell apart in the second half as Once Upon a Time and Revenge collapsed during event season and CBS and NBC aired weak lineups.
Time of Day:
Broadcast networks continued to see their ratings strength gradually shift from the second half of the evening to the first. The 8:00 and 8:30 half-hours were at or very near their strongest levels in the A18-49+ era, while the 10:00 hour as a whole was weakest.
Repeats & Sports/Specials:
2012-13 saw the rerun average drop below half of the original average for the first time, while sports continued to gain value even in a somewhat modest year, relatively speaking. Sunday Night Football was down in raw numbers for the first time in four years, and other big events like the Super Bowl and World Series dropped.
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