Friday, January 24, 2014

The War of 18-49, Covert Affairs


Scheduling history: After three full seasons in the Tuesday 10/9c slot (often paired with White Collar at 9/8c), Covert Affairs went to the 9:00 hour in summer 2013 to lead into Suits, then to Thursday for the fall.

See (who saw) how it all began: Covert Affairs was the one of the shows developed at the height of USA Network's "blue sky" power, opening with 4.88 million viewers and a 1.6 demo rating on 7/13/10. It held the 1.6 and grew a bit in viewers in week two, then exceeded that opening demo for the first time in week four with a 1.7.

The best of times: All of Covert Affairs' biggest ratings came throughout season one, but the pinnacle was about halfway through the season, when it hit a new high 1.8 on 8/17/10 and then another new high 1.9 on 8/24/10.

The worst of times: Like USA's very successful newbie from the previous season, Royal Pains, it's been all downhill and fast since season one. Every season has been down 20%+ from the previous year's corresponding run. It's always gotten much weaker ratings in the fall half of its seasons, then failed to rally from those fall numbers the next summer. The final season was particularly embarrassing; it went as low as a 0.29 rating during the summer and was the network's lowest-rated drama, then it actually got down to a paltry 0.21 on 11/13/14, during its final run in the fall. It did have a nice rally to 0.43 for the finale, even though the show hadn't yet been announced as cancelled.

Then vs. now: On its own, the Covert Affairs rating track looks like a big disappointment. The show has lost a ton of traction over the years, even adjusting for collective decline. I actually think the show got noticeably better in the second half of its run, making this rather vexing to me. But at least from the show's perspective, the good news was that it wasn't exactly alone on USA. Royal Pains, the other hit USA developed right at the height of its dominance, fell almost as quickly over the last few years, and the network has failed to come up with major hits from development recently. But even a depressed standard for USA originals couldn't save Covert Affairs after the drops got truly horrifying in season five.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
1Summer 2010Tuesday 10:001.581.31.9detail
2ASummer 20111.23-22%1.11.4detail
2BFall 20110.870.71.0
3ASummer 20120.87-30%0.71.0detail
3BFall 20120.69-20%0.50.8
4ASummer 2013Tuesday 9:000.69-20%0.50.9detail

4BFall 2013Thursday 10:000.50-28%0.40.7
5ASummer 2014Tuesday 10:000.35-49%0.30.4detailF
5BFall 2014Thursday 10:000.30-41%0.20.4

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
1Summer 20105646685750
2ASummer 20114943554755
2BFall 2011 37 30 42 42 42
3ASummer 20123730443937
3BFall 2012 33 24 40 38 31
4ASummer 20133325422933
4BFall 2013 26 21 36 29 36
5ASummer 20141915222220
5BFall 2014 18 12 26 15 26

*- For this winter's War of 18-49 updates, the A18-49+ is based on a projected league average, calculated by applying the league average's current year-to-year trend (thru 1/18/15) to the final 2013-14 average. This should help make these numbers compare more fairly with fall seasons past.

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

1 comment:

Spot said...

So, does this mean that this whole split-season idea is a bust or just that USA's shows are getting old fast?

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