This time we're breaking original series programming on the big four apart by day of the week. First, a quick look at how the five weekdays have lined up over the last decade.
Put 'em All Together:
2001-04: Thursday, Land of Megahits
Thursday ruled the 2003-04 season basically due to two megahit-filled lineups: CBS' Survivor/CSI duo (with legit hit Without a Trace rounding out the night) and NBC's Friends and ER bookends, also including the breakout introduction of The Apprentice at midseason.
2004-06: The Sunday Splash
In 2003-04, Sunday was a sub-league average night filled with lots of decent players like Law and Order: CI, Alias and The Simpsons, but nothing of huge ratings significance. That all changed with ABC's introduction of Desperate Housewives and the great support it lent the shows around it, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Boston Legal and Grey's Anatomy. Meanwhile, a post-Friends NBC fell apart on Thursday and nothing immediately stepped up to replace it, while Tuesday slowly got stronger as American Idol hit its prime and CBS' NCIS-anchored lineup slowly clawed its way to respectability.
2006-07: Grey's Resurrects Thursday
A few years after the epic Thursday showdown between Friends and Survivor came to an end, a new one was born, as ABC moved red-hot third-year drama Grey's Anatomy into the Thursday 9/8c slot long dominated by CSI. Grey's was the big winner of that clash, and coupled with the 8:00 success of newbie Ugly Betty, ABC had finally become relevant on Thursday.
2007-10: Tuesday Takes Over
Tuesday had three-year reign as the most competitive night of the week. It backed into the honor in 2007-08 because it was least affected by the writers' strike with unscripted stalwarts like American Idol, Hell's Kitchen, Dancing with the Stars and The Biggest Loser, but the continued rise of Loser and NCIS coupled with promising newbies like The Mentalist, NCIS: Los Angeles, Fringe and Glee helped prop it up in the subsequent seasons.
2010-11: The Idol Move
Fox threw a major wrench into the Tuesday-dominated landscape by moving the biggest program on TV off of the night. Bones and American Idol made long-time Thursday afterthought Fox a huge player on the night. And the longer performance shows on Wednesday coupled with the rise of ABC's comedy block made that long-mediocre night a huge player again.
2011-16: The Sitcoms/Voice Era
The last big sea change we've seen was the rise of Mondays, first fueled by the Ashton Kutcher arrival on Two and a Half Men in fall 2011, then by the arrival of The Voice on the night in spring 2012. The night has become primetime's most crowded evening even as previous Monday powerhouses like Dancing with the Stars and House have fallen off to a huge extent. Meanwhile, the nights without singing competitions and big comedy blocks are increasingly the nights left out in the cold. Tuesday and Sunday were both league-average nights in 2012-13, the first time that happened on a weeknight since Sunday in 2003-04. And Sunday went well below average in 2013-14.
I'm including the weekend nights mostly for the purpose of examining how much that low-viewing programming tends to affect the league average. For the most part, that effect has been pretty consistent. The difference between the weekdays-only league average and the actual league average (Weekday -> LA) is around 9% on average. But that effect has been lessening over time as the hours of originals on the weekend (Fri-Hrs and Sat-Hrs) has decreased. (This is why the sum is less now than in 2003-04 if you add up all the weeknight totals above; the weeknights are generally closer to the average because the weekend effect is smaller.)
The decrease in weekend originals has pretty much exclusively come on Saturday, which had only half has many hours of originals in 2012-13 as in 2003-04, and closer to a third in 2013-14. The amount of original programming on Friday has basically remained the same across the last ten years, even during the late aughts when it appeared that Friday ratings were getting noticeably weaker. (But the Friday ratings have rallied in the last two seasons, to the point that the 2012-13 season had just about returned to the 2003-07 average, then 2013-14 went well above it.)
|Year||Weeknight -> LA||Friday||Fri-Hrs||Saturday||Sat-Hrs|
New "Hit for Friday" and "Solid for Friday" Labels
You might notice that these Friday averages are solidly higher than the ones used in the "Hit for Friday" post, where I said 55 A18-49+ was the baseline for Friday programming in the labels. Now it looks more like 60. Two reasons why this has changed: 1) a formula mistake in which some of the CW programs were not weeded out of the Friday calculation (this made all the averages 2-3 points lower than they should've been); and 2) three older seasons added, all of which were 60+. A baseline of 60 might be a bit too biased toward the early seasons, but considering the last two seasons have gotten back into that range, it seems OK.
So now: 60 = "Solid for Friday" and 1.25 * 60 = 75 = "Hit for Friday."
Among the relatively few shows downgraded from "hit" to "solid": the last season of Grimm (74 on Friday only) and Last Man Standing (71), the first two seasons of Blue Bloods (70/73) and the first Friday season of Law & Order (74). These were all nice seasons, and obviously the 73 to 74 shows are right on the borderline, but I don't think any of them felt so incredibly overwhelming/beastly that they're worth defending as "hits."
I tried to track down the shows affected by this on the War of 18-49 posts, but I may have missed something, so let me know if you stumble upon anything that looks like it has an old label.
Since these numbers are higher, I might look into a "marginal for Friday" label, since a show like Dateline or Cops will now grade out as a "flop" in most seasons. But I'm not getting to that one just yet. I still think the "solid" and the "hit" labels are all you really need for scripted series. The sub-60 Friday scripted renewals are very few (basically just Fringe and Dollhouse).
2001-02 | 2002-03 | 2003-04 | 2004-05 | 2005-06 | 2006-07 | 2007-08 | 2008-09 | 2009-10 | 2010-11 | 2011-12 | 2012-13 | 2013-14 | 2014-15