Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The War of 18-49, The Cleveland Show


Scheduling history: Though it was a spin-off of Family Guy, The Cleveland Show began its run airing after Fox's other animated anchor The Simpsons. Its only prolonged run after Family Guy came in the second half of season two. By season three, it had clearly dropped on Fox's priority list. While it aired about a third of the last couple seasons in special 8:30/9:30 stints, most of those seasons' eps aired in the low-viewed 7:00 hour.

See (who saw) how it all began: The Cleveland Show was one of the highest-rated series premiere episodes of the last few years, thanks to its Family Guy roots and an assist from the Sunday NFL lead-in. The NFL boosted The Simpsons to a 4.3, and then Cleveland built on that to a whooping 9.51 million viewers and 4.9 demo rating. It was pretty much all downhill from there, to a 4.4 in week two, a 3.9 in week three, an eventual low-3's level for much of the fall, and a mid-to-upper-2's level in the second half of season one.

The best of times: Cleveland never again lived up to the heights of the early episodes, though it did occasionally prove capable of 3.0+ demos in seasons two and three, with NFL help. It got as high as a 3.6 in season two when the animated lineup had an NFL playoff game leading in.

The worst of times: As is true of most second-tier Fox Sunday shows, the ratings got lowest when Fox dumped it into the 7:00 hour. Most of seasons three and four were spent in the low-to-mid-1's, and it actually dipped below the 1.0 threshold on a couple occasions toward the end of season four, including a 0.8 for a 7:00 episode in the series' penultimate week on 5/12/13.

Then vs. now: I've mentioned a few times this season that there wasn't really a lot of separation between Cleveland and Fox's other two second-tier sitcoms, American Dad! and Bob's Burgers, and that was evident whenever Cleveland got a chance to air in a higher-viewed hour. But Fox felt the need to trim down the second tier in favor of newer shows, so something had to go. American Dad! seemed to be the strongest of the three, and Bob's had an edge because it kept the block from becoming over-saturated with Seth MacFarlane. So Cleveland was the one squeezed out, which has seemed likely from the moment Fox moved it into the 7:30 slot in season three.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
12009-10Sunday 8:303.162.24.9detail
22010-11Sun 8:30, Sun 9:302.67-15%2.13.6detail
32011-12mostly Sunday 7:301.78-33%1.23.1detail

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
12009-10 112 solid1.89 78 174 174 85
22010-11 105 solid1.77 -6% 83 142 122 90
32011-12 75 marginal1.27 -28% 51 131 131 55
42012-13 68 flop1.14 -10% 38 104 104 52

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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