Friday, January 17, 2014

The War of 18-49, Nikita


Scheduling history: After one season following The Vampire Diaries on Thursday, Nikita moved to Friday for the rest of its run. Most of those episodes aired in the lead-off role, though the first few episodes of season three and the shortened season four aired at 9:00.

See (who saw) how it all began: Nikita opened its run with 3.57 million viewers and a 1.4 demo rating on 9/9/10, almost fully retaining its lead-in from The Vampire Diaries (1.6). It dropped to a 1.2 in week two, then settled at a 1.0 to 1.1 through the end of October before dipping below 1.0 at the end of the fall.

The best of times: Because Nikita only had one year on a high-priority night, inevitably all of its biggest results came in that year. The 1.4 and 1.2 for the first two airings were the two biggest ratings in series history. It broke a 1.0 in each of its first seven episodes and only once after: the 2011 winter premiere, when it spiked to 2.62 million viewers and a 1.1 on 1/27/11.

The worst of times: After season one, Nikita was moved to Friday, where it initially had somewhat reasonable Friday ratings when paired with Supernatural. But when Supernatural got moved to the midweek, Nikita really fell apart, dropping 34% in season three despite airing in the same timeslot, then drawing no real interest for the short final season at the end of 2013. It hit three 0.2's in season three and another five in the six-episode final season. Its viewership low was 640,000 for a mid-season four episode on 12/13/13.

Then vs. now: At least from an 18-49 rating standpoint, Nikita was the strongest new show the CW has put after The Vampire Diaries. However, it skewed older and more male at a time when the CW regime was all in on young females, so it was shipped off to Friday for season two (alongside Supernatural, whose deprioritization was even more egregious). Nikita wasn't a total disaster at first, but the show eventually became an afterthought, even as the network's philosophy shifted in what should've been a more favorable direction. It was probably lucky to get its short "send-off" season in 2013, benefiting in part because fellow veteran 90210 was an even bigger disaster that had to get cancelled outright.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
12010-11Thursday 9:000.900.61.4detail
22011-12Friday 8:000.50-44%0.40.6detail
32012-13Fri 9:00, Fri 8:000.33-34%0.20.5detail
42013-14Friday 9:000.22-35%0.20.3detail

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
12010-11 36 solid(CW)0.60 24 55 55 28
22011-12 21 solid(CWFri)0.36 -40% 17 25 25 17
32012-13 16 flop0.27 -26% 9 24 14 19
42013-14 12 flop0.19 -27% 11 16 11 11

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

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