Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The War of 18-49, Justified


Scheduling history: Justified premiered on Tuesday at 10:00, moved to Wednesday for season two, and returned to Tuesday starting in season three.

See (who saw) how it all began: Justified had a very promising start, bowing to 4.15 million viewers and a 1.5 demo on 3/16/10. That was actually a better start than Sons of Anarchy had the year before (1.2) and about on par with American Horror Story (1.6), a couple shows that later became huge hits. But Justified did not live up to or build on that early promise the way the other two did. It held well in week two, dropping to a 1.4, but it took a massive hit in week three to a 0.9, and it would hold in the 0.8 to 0.9 range for most of the rest of the season (and in fact most of the rest of the series).

The best of times: Though Justified has perked back up for a couple other premieres (hitting a 1.3 for the season two and season four premieres), it's never gotten back to the 1.5 and 1.4 of the opening two weeks. It's pretty much impossible to come up with a best sustained run considering most seasons had almost exactly the same average. It's never been able to consistently hit a 1.0+, but it's almost always been right below the mark.

The worst of times: Again, most of these seasons were tough to tell apart. But the second half of season five brought new lows for Justified, including a 0.6 rating on 3/25/14 and 4/1/14. And that led into really disappointing ratings for the final season, which saw a historically steady season suddenly take enormous drops. The 0.7 opener was already close to a series low, and it then dropped into the 0.5 area for most of the first half of the season. Seven different season six episodes hit 0.5, but the lowest one unrounded was a 0.46 on 2/24/15.

Then vs. now: The last few years have been incredibly fruitful for many acclaimed serialized cable dramas, including Justified's FX teammate Sons of Anarchy, but for whatever reason Justified never really got on that wave Nielsen-wise. For most of its run, it just kept plugging away with that same old solid but unspectacular 0.9 average. Season five brought the first real downturn, not that going from a 0.9 average to a 0.8 average was really that significant. FX announced that season six would be the last, yet it couldn't stop the show from taking a huge step down that year.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
12009-10Tuesday 10:000.920.71.5detail
22010-11Wednesday 10:000.92+0%0.71.3detail
32011-12Tuesday 10:000.90-3%0.81.1detail

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
12009-10 33 25 53 53 28
22010-11 36 28 51 51 35
32011-12 38 32 46 42 44
42012-13 43 35 62 62 35
52013-14 43 32 59 59 42
62014-15 32 27 40 36 39

For more on The War of 18-49, my look at the history of primetime TV's veteran shows, see the Index.


Spot said...

Maybe it's just because I'm a huge fan, but I've never understood why this show wasn't able to make that big leap in the ratings. It seems like it should appeal to a huge portion of the Sons of Anarchy audience, but it's just never picked up anywhere close to that kind of momentum. The only thing I can think of is that the second and third episodes of the show were just so-so, and a large portion of the audience dropped out, but why no second season bounce? Or even third season, considering how stellar the second one was?

In any case, it should be able to hold out for six seasons or so, which is a very solid run.

Spot said...

What cable dramas do and do not take off is one of the big mysteries in life. Seriously, this show seems a lot more appealing than Sons of Anarchy to me.

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