Friday, June 28, 2013

Top 10 of the Last 10, Network Seasons


The collective decline in Live+SD ratings makes it hard to fairly compare numbers across seasons. But with the A18-49+ stat, we have the technology! Enter the "Top 10 of the Last 10" lists, which will line up the last ten seasons (2003-04 thru 2012-13) and give us an idea of which shows were strongest after we set the collective decline off to the side. (I'll throw in the raw numbers too, to give a sense of how far ratings have fallen.)

This week, it's a look at networks as a whole, comparing their seasons using only the average of their original non-sports series. Unless you are really interested in Fox, most of this will be pretty boring, but I figured it was worth getting out there!

Previously:
Comedy Seasons
Drama Seasons
New Scripted Shows
Scripted Newbie Reach Renewals

Top 10 of the Last 10, Network Seasons A18-49+ A18-49
Image 10. CBS, 2012-13 109 2.33
CBS snatched the entertainment crown from Fox in 2012-13 even though they failed to live up to some of the promise of 2011-12. The Monday comedy lineup regressed against NBC's two cycles of The Voice, and several procedurals took larger drops than usual, but The Big Bang Theory's continued growth helped.
Image 9. Fox, 2005-06 113 4.62
This was the last "pre-prime" season on Fox. While American Idol was entering its own prime, the network had not quite put all the pieces around it yet. Shows like House, Bones and Family Guy still had a lot of growing to do.
Image 8. CBS, 2011-12 115 2.72
CBS' breakout season of 2011-12 was largely fueled by comedies. Not only did Two and a Half Men explode thanks to Ashton Kutcher, but How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory also became much stronger than ever before, and 2 Broke Girls showed a great deal of promise.
Image 7. NBC, 2003-04 117 4.77
NBC's last year of dominance was anchored by Thursday, with bookending megahits Friends and ER and a breakthrough reality megahit The Apprentice in the middle. But they had plenty of juice on other nights, from the Law & Order trio to promising newbie Las Vegas.
Image 6. Fox, 2011-12 119 2.81
Even with the reasonably decent launch of The X Factor in the fall, Fox still had its worst season since 2005-06. X (plus NBC's The Voice) may have oversaturated the music competition realm, leading to huge drops from American Idol. And the drama department crumbled, with tentpoles House and Glee also melting down.
Image 5. Fox, 2008-09 121 3.61
The midpoint of Fox's prime was most notable for the network's midseason decision to use its signature dramas to fix trouble spots. House made a permanent move to Monday, while Bones set up shop leading off the long-troubled Thursday lineup.
Image 4. Fox, 2009-10 123 3.44
The last cog of Fox's prime period was Glee, introduced to decent numbers in fall 2009 after So You Think You Can Dance. It took off in its spring return when it led out of American Idol.
Image 3. Fox, 2006-07 123 4.62
Fox's first prime season was highlighted by arguably the strongest season of American Idol, which went above a 300 A18-49+ on both nights for the only time in its history. They also made a rare foray into Thursday respectability with new game show Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?
Image 2. Fox, 2010-11 128 3.24
The last truly prime season from Fox was arguably the strongest, as the peak season of Glee anchored Tuesday and American Idol seamlessly headed for Wednesday/Thursday. Throw in House on Monday and Kitchen Nightmares/Fringe as an actual decent Friday lineup, and this was quite a schedule.
Image 1. Fox, 2007-08 131 4.28
The writer's strike shortened most CBS/ABC shows, but it didn't affect unscripted-heavy Fox much. They ran absolutely roughshod with a full-strength American Idol, more Gordon Ramsay with newbie Kitchen Nightmares and a spring Hell's Kitchen, plus a solid 5th Grader-led Thursday.

Notes: ABC's strongest season (a 106 in 2006-07) would've checked in at #11.

The only season not represented on the list was the parity-heavy 2004-05, when the top network had a 104 and the bottom network had a 96.

Some will want to note that Fox has a big advantage in averages comparisons because they don't program the 10:00 hour. This happens on two levels. First, programming less time means a huge show like American Idol takes up a larger percentage of the real estate. Fox was certainly the strongest network and would've won most of these seasons even if you gave them a bunch of weak shows in the 10:00 hour, but you can argue having 15 hours exaggerates it somewhat. Second, there appears to be an increasing inherent disadvantage for 10:00 programming due to cable/DVR, though that's only really developed in the last few years. And ironically, Fox's numbers have fallen apart just as that has appeared to become a significant thing.

2013-14 Update: The four networks were all quite close together this year, so none of them made this list. #1 original network CBS (106) was three points behind last year's delivery, and that was only good enough for #10 last summer.

12 comments:

Spot said...

While I find this interesting, your last paragraph is what I have long thought about networks comparison as far as FOX is concerned. It really does not seem all that fair to me, too much like an apples and oranges comparison. Still, interesting as always

Spot said...

Spot, I recall you saying a few times that the 2012-13 season took the sharpest league average decline of the A18-49+ era not counting the 2007-08 season. How steep was that season's drop?

Spot said...

Man, FOX had quite a run, didn't it? 28% better than the league just two short years ago. Then 20 months of absolutely nothing good. Big-budget Terra Nova and Alcatraz failed on Monday, forcing Bones from its usual side dish role to main course. ...Teenage Daughter, The Finder and Touch do nothing after Idol, which should have been a warning that they were in for a hurting. Now they just have The Following, which is seven months away, and Glee and Bones, which are both showing their age.

Spot said...

Would love to see a Top 10 New Shows that were cancelled. I am loving these Top 10 lists! Keep up the great work.

Spot said...

Good summary!

Spot said...

It was -12%.

Spot said...

I had that on my initial roster, but I found the list itself is rather boring because there are so many CBS comedies. So I wasn't sure about doing it. But it might happen now that it has been requested! :)

Spot said...

Here's an idea: Top 10 'Sophomore Slump' Shows.

Spot said...

And Top 10 'Biggest gainers in Season 2' Shows.

Spot said...

Love both of these

Spot said...

It would definitely be a good read, though maybe if it is mainly just CBS comedies, perhaps just make it Top 10 Dramas? I'd love to see if any of the dramas I've watched over the years that were cancelled would make the list.

Spot said...

While the drama situation is bad, Fox's live-action sitcom run is far worse even after accounting for the reduced hours of programming. Here's the list of live-action sitcoms in the A18-49+ era on Fox that made three or more seasons.

Arrested Development ('03-'06) [And that's being generous since season 3 was only 13 episodes]
Til Death ('06-'10)
Raising Hope ('10-Current)
New Girl ('11-Current)

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