So the big picture headliner from premiere week had to be that the "league average" (that is, the average of non-sports original series on the big four networks) was essentially unchanged from year-to-year, down from 2.50 in premiere week 2012 to 2.49 this year. In the "modern" era of roughly 9% declines per season, that is very healthy on the surface.
The one thing I have noticed historically is that the strength of the new show class tends to correlate with the fluctuations around that -9% average. In other words, the seasons that went less than -9% had good new classes. That was certainly in play for the 2013 premiere week, when the new shows as a whole actually went above the league average. I don't have the "new show average" in every single A18-49+ season yet, but the 103 average for scripted newbies was much higher than in previous premiere weeks: 2010-11 (84), 2011-12 (93) and 2012-13 (89). (The very good class of 2011-12 gets nicked in this comparison because so many of its strong newbies didn't premiere till after the premiere week.) It even edged out the Modern Family/Cougar Town/Glee/NCIS: LA/The Cleveland Show-fueled 2009-10 premiere week (100).
While the new shows were promising any way you slice it, it is worth pointing out that the networks scheduled the premiere week much more aggressively than last year. There were a lot of double-premieres of the biggest shows, and quite a few of those premieres have turned out to be "hide the weenie" situations as duds like We Are Men and Ironside have filled out the sked. I tried very simplistically to plug some terrible numbers into the other half of some of these double-premieres, and that took the year-to-year trend down two to three points. So the "hide the weenies" were not exactly the difference between an even year and a normal -9% year, but they did play a part.
A few other quick points:
- Will Sunday become the weakest weeknight for entertainment programming in A18-49+ era history? It seems pretty likely that it will. It averaged a horrifying 82 in premiere week. I expect that to come up if only because Sunday didn't have the same kind of inflationary scheduling as some other nights, and it won't drop as much post-premiere as some other nights (ahem, ABC Tuesday). But the number to beat is Sunday in 2003-04 (95), and this year's Sunday could easily struggle to get that high.
- The network breakdown through one week: NBC 117, ABC 98, CBS 96, Fox 88.
- For comparison, premiere week 2012: ABC 103, Fox 103, CBS 100, NBC 95.
- And the 2012-13 final rankings: CBS 109, Fox 106, ABC 93, NBC 93.
- I haven't looked at this in detail but my guess is that historically ABC and NBC are usually pretty inflated in the premiere week, while CBS is more of a "when the dust settles" network in general and Fox has American Idol in the second half.
- Will the outliers get even more outlier-y? As I noted on the premiere Tuesday thread, there's a good chance that the Agents of SHIELD premiere could become the second-biggest scripted series premiere in A18-49+, and certainly the biggest that was a "self-starter." The other two through-the-roof numbers were a Two and a Half Men-boosted 2 Broke Girls (300) and a football-fueled Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (235). Combine SHIELD with the unbelievably high-rated finale of Breaking Bad and I think you have something of a lesson about one of the perils of using A18-49+. This number is built on an incremental decline in Live+SD viewership tendencies, but it's not like those viewers have disappeared or died. They still exist, they're just usually watching TV differently. And if you can create some kind of compelling cultural desire to watch live (the way sports does), you can get people to rewrite the viewing rulebook, leading to larger percent boosts than what we're used to seeing. Just something to keep in mind. I'm not saying it invalidates the number or anything, because that kind of thing is very tough to sustain beyond a very limited time-frame; SHIELD learned that the hard way in week two.
Click to expand for more on the "climate" numbers used herein.
TPUT - This is an ESTIMATED average of how many people are watching TV from 8:00 to 11:00.
- I derive these numbers by adding up all the ratings and dividing by all the shares in each of the 42 half-hours each week. That means there is some error relative to the numbers Nielsen actually releases. Sadly we don't regularly have access to those. I always advise not to rely heavily on these numbers for any one show in any one week, but the hope is that the error is minimized across a 42-timeslot sample every week.
- I include the Old Methodology adjustment, which makes the number more like a measurement of how many people watch primetime programming Live + SD, rather than a measurement of how many people watch any TV (including old DVR stuff) from 8:00 to 11:00. This makes the number perhaps less intuitive in a vacuum, but it's pretty much a wash when making week-to-week and year-to-year comparisons, which is what we're really interested in.
- This does NOT include the 10:00 adjustment used in the True2 calculation which attempts to account for Fox/CW programming and stronger cable. Again, that perhaps hurts the number in a vacuum, because the 10:00 numbers being used only include three networks, so I'm averaging timeslots that are somewhat apples-to-oranges. But again, it's a wash when making comparisons because I treat it that way all the time. It would not really change week-to-week or year-to-year comparisons, and that's what I mostly care about.
- Another important note here is that these numbers include the preliminary averages for "sustaining" programming like presidential debates and commercial-free benefit concerts whose numbers are typically omitted from traditional Nielsen averages. I might eventually omit these from this particular calculation, but they're needed on my spreadsheets to 1) make PUT calculations in those timeslots and 2) create a competition number for the entertainment shows that air against them.