Monday, March 31, 2014

The Question, Monday 3/31/14: Will How I Met Your Mother's Finale Meet A Ratings High?

It's not even April, but the biggest series finale of the 2013-14 season is upon us. The How I Met Your Mother finale will feature an event baked right into the title of the show, and it also puts a bow on one of the most interesting TV ratings stories of the last decade. A bubble show in its early years, it picked up major steam amid the comedy renaissance of the late aughts. Though many believe its best creative days are past, it will leave the airwaves still very much in its ratings prime. It's a lock to be the second-biggest final season in the A18-49+ era, and a big finale likely makes this HIMYM's best historical-adjusted season. Will How I Met Your Mother's finale meet a ratings high? That's The Question for Monday, March 31, 2014.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Question, Sunday 3/30/14: Will The Walking Dead Reanimate A Record Viewership?

The highest-rated scripted show in recent TV history wraps up another season tonight, and somehow it keeps finding positive momentum even at these totally unrealistic ratings levels. The Walking Dead nearly tied its series high in the spring premiere despite facing the Winter Olympics. Then, after a few episodes slightly behind the corresponding fall ratings, it's pulled ahead of the fall pace in recent weeks, making it very likely to post its highest finale ever tonight. A really big spike might even see it make a run at series high levels. Will The Walking Dead reanimate a record viewership? That's The Question for Sunday, March 30, 2014.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Spotted Ratings, Thursday 3/27/14


  • Fox's new comedy Surviving Jack (1.3) did not get off to a good start. Though it retained the American Idol (1.9) demo by percentage far better than previous occupant Rake, it also had a much weaker Idol to deal with. It's probably on the wrong side of the bubble unless it holds 100%+ of this going forward.
  • On ABC, Scandal (3.1) had a big night, popping into the 3's for the first time since the spring premiere. After finals, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland and Grey's Anatomy each joined Scandal to make for a full night of +0.2's.
  • NBC's repeats of Hollywood Game Night (1.1 at 8:00, 1.1 at 9:00) nearly tied or topped recent original numbers in their respective hours (including the last new HGN from two weeks ago). It's been clear since last summer that this show's greatest value is in its repeatability. Parenthood (1.4) also had a good night, inching above its usual 1.2-1.3 range to its first 1.4+ since October.
  • Not sure what on earth happened to The Vampire Diaries, but at least it got a little less ugly in finals. An adjustment up to 0.8 still leaves it at a new series low, though.
  • The CBS basketball games narrowly outrated the corresponding second Thursday last year, with the Dayton/Stanford opener doing the heavy lifting..

First Two Weeks, Believe/Crisis

Another NBC tandem on the same night gets combined into one post. Though Believe technically had a preview on Monday, March 10 (2.7), the official week one was the next Sunday, when Believe launched to 6.57 million viewers and a 1.5 demo rating. That was slightly ahead of its The Voice recap special lead-in (1.4). Then came Crisis, which surprisingly grew by another tick at 10/9c, posting 6.53 million viewers and a 1.6 demo rating. Not quite what I would call DOA, but close enough that the shows definitely needed to overachieve in the coming weeks.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Question, Thursday 3/27/14: Can Surviving Jack Survive on Thursday?

Starting tonight, Fox will shrink its 9/8c American Idol results show to 30 minutes and premiere the new comedy Surviving Jack afterwards. The competition should be favorable tonight with CBS' comedy block sitting out for basketball. The problem is that American Idol won't be of that much help at this point; it had a 2.0 in the hour last week and would be lucky to go any higher than that tonight. Jack should manage better retention than the last post-Idol premiere Rake, since it's only giving viewers 30 minutes to tune out. But Idol was substantially bigger at that time (3.4), so Surviving Jack matching the 1.7 Rake number would be a win.

Surviving Jack Over/Under: 1.45.

Spotted Ratings, Wednesday 3/26/14

  • Week two of the CW's The 100 (0.7) was down two tenths week-to-week as its lead-in Arrow (0.9) perked up by another tick. Not a great trend, but still a pretty good raw number. Stay tuned for week three.
  • Only ABC aired original scripted programming out of all the other networks. The results were mixed, as Modern Family (3.6) adjusted up to its best number since November and it helped Mixology (1.6) also outrate the last couple episodes (though it adjusted down to behind the first couple). But bubble show Nashville (1.3) tied its low point, which seems particularly soft since both its broadcast competitors were in repeats. (Suburgatory tied its low in prelims but adjusted up in finals.)
  • Once again, Survivor (2.3) > American Idol (2.2), though Survivor was down a bit this week while a finals uptick kept Idol even.
  • Cable: the series finale of Psych (0.72) was up 37% week-to-week, though that still left it behind a couple episodes from early in the season.

Spotted Ratings, Tuesday 3/25/14

  • The fourth timeslot originals for About a Boy (2.0) and Growing Up Fisher (1.7) each gave back the tenth gained last week; the good news is there were no finals downticks.
  • The CBS drama lineup of NCIS (2.5), NCIS: Los Angeles (2.4) and Person of Interest (2.0) had an upswing night. PoI in particular seemed to benefit from Chicago Fire (1.0) going into repeats at 10/9c. NCIS also faced a repeat Agents of SHIELD (0.8).
  • On a roller-coaster night for Fox, Glee held onto the 1.1 "spike" from last week's 100th episode, then New Girl (1.2) hit a new series low, then Brooklyn Nine-Nine (1.3) bounced up in its season finale.
  • I don't really make anything of pilot encore ratings as a rule, but people may yell at me if I don't mention that The 100 got a 0.5 and 1.6 million viewers for its pilot encore at 8/7c.

Spotted Ratings, Monday 3/24/14

  • The penultimate episode of How I Met Your Mother (3.5) spiked by over a half point week-to-week and is now up by 0.8 from its low against The Bachelor's finale two weeks ago. It may grade out as one of the show's most impressive performances of the season given all the competition and that we're post-Daylight Saving. This helped the rest of the CBS comedy lineup, but only by a little bit; 2 Broke Girls (2.3) and Mom (1.9) were up a tick, and Mike and Molly (2.0) was up two.
  • ABC's Dancing with the Stars (2.3) was down by 12% in week two, but since it's now being compared against more apples-to-apples episodes, the year-to-year gap closed to just -4% vs. the second spring 2013 episode. And this may be a show that can benefit depending on what happens with CBS after HIMYM is gone.
  • NBC had a down The Voice (3.7) and an up The Blacklist (2.8), though those changes were lessened a bit after finals adjustments.
  • And if it wasn't already over, the final death blow may have been dealt to CDub's The Tomorrow People (0.3). After a decent hold in its Monday premiere, it was down a notch in its second Monday episode. 
  • Cable: the finales of Teen Wolf, Switched at Birth and The Fosters were all up about 10%. Teen Wolf was also on the upside vs. last winter's finale, though Switched and Fosters were way down. And Bates Motel finally stopped the bleeding with a week four bounce-back.

Best Case/Worst Case, Late March/Early April 2014: Surviving Jack, Friends with Better Lives and More!

Best Case/Worst Case is back for a miniature edition, previewing the four broadcast shows premiering from now through mid-April. It'll be back for another short edition in late April.

Since some of these shows have episode orders that could extend beyond the regular season, these averages are only for original airings within the regular season.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The True Top 25, Week Ending 3/23/14 (2013-14 Week 26)

With The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family both taking the week off, it was all about The Voice in this week's True Top 25. Its Monday and Tuesday episodes were the only things to break a 3.0 demo rating in broadcast primetime all week (excluding the NCAA basketball overrun on Sunday). Scandal and How I Met Your Mother tied as the top scripted program at 2.9, with Scandal narrowly inching ahead in True. Shark Tank and 20/20 represented Friday night as usual, while Saturday's basketball game also made the cut. And The Blacklist, Resurrection and Mom were the three new shows on the list this week.

Spotted Ratings, Sunday 3/23/14

  • ABC's Resurrection (2.5) was down another 19% in week three. It was actually down more by percent in week three than in week two, which is not a promising trend. The show still has a lot of room to fall before being in the bubble conversation, but its potential as a game-changer for ABC is looking more limited. And it will have to try to fend off The Walking Dead's finale, which looms next week. One thing to note in its defense is that its lead-in Once Upon a Time (2.1) was also down quite a bit this week.
  • Sunday got worse for NBC, too. The second timeslot originals for Believe (1.2) and Crisis (1.3) were each down the usual 20%ish from last week, and new reality series American Dream Builders (0.9) did not make an impact at 8/7c. (It was way behind last week's The Voice recap special.)
  • And week three of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (1.7) also took a larger drop in week three than in week two.
  • CBS had a very large lead-in from an NCAA basketball game with a really unfortunate result, delaying its lineup by about 40 minutes. This boosted 60 Minutes but made no real impact on the other shows.

Spotted Ratings, Saturday 3/22/14

  • CBS' basketball coverage was up a tick from the game on the first Saturday last year.

Spotted Ratings, Friday 3/21/14

  • The only real notable this Friday was the CW debuting its new Friday original lineup. Whose Line Is It Anyway? (0.6 at 8:00, 0.6 at 8:30) might be considered a bit underwhelming since many of its recent repeats have pulled 0.5's, and they're down by about half from the huge premieres last summer. But keep in mind this has always been a show (dating back to its ABC/syndication days) with big repeat value. The finals took a meaningful downturn for Hart of Dixie, now amount about the drop one would expect in this move. (It was technically even with the last episode, but that was a season low against the Olympics.)
  • CBS once again aired a basketball lineup with ratings worse than its usual Friday original ratings (but at least better than the repeat ratings this time). Both games were actually up from the pathetic 0.8/1.0 CBS got on the first Friday of last season.

SpotVault - The 100 (CW) - 2013-14 Ratings

The 100
Wednesdays, 9/8c, CW

SpotVault - American Dream Builders (NBC) - 2013-14 Ratings

American Dream Builders
Sundays, 8/7c, NBC

SpotVault - Whose Line Is It Anyway? (CW) - 2013-14 Ratings

Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Fridays, 8/7c, CW

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Question Results Through 3/19/14

Here are the results for the ratings prediction game The Question through March 19. The game is back on Thursday for Surviving Jack's premiere, though the games will likely be pretty sporadic over the next few weeks since there aren't many big premieres in April.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Adults 18-34 Primer, Part 3: A True Power Rankings Using 18-34 Ratings

In the first two parts of the adults 18-34 primer, we looked at the fundamentals of that demographic's audience, then at how some of the biggest shows skewed if we were using that demo rather than 18-49.

In this third and final part, we will try unifying adults 18-49 and adults 18-34 ratings into one metric. There seems to be some potential for added value in even the crudest of combinations of these ratings, as seen in the linear correlations from part one.

Friday, March 21, 2014

First Two Weeks, Resurrection

There have been several sizable series premiere ratings this season, but Resurrection was the biggest surprise of them all. It opened on March 9 with a whooping 13.90 million viewers and a 3.8 demo rating, absolutely crushing everything else on broadcast including the premiere of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (2.1). And it pulled this off in the biggest hour of the week for cable originals; the competish this week included The Walking Dead (6.3) and the spiking finale of True Detective (1.6).

Spotted Ratings, Thursday 3/20/14

  • CBS' regular lineup took its usual step aside in late March so CBS could cover the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament (1.0 for the first game, 1.3 for the second, making the combo down about 20% from last year's 1.8/1.2 opening Thursday). The ratings on CBS have gotten massively lower since an agreement with Turner spread the coverage across four networks, but it surprises me that there's not even a whiff of scheduling favoritism toward CBS in this arrangement. You could really argue they had the worst double-header of any of the four networks (though their second game ended up being quite good).  Anyway, these ratings were lower not just than CBS' regular lineup, but than repeats of their regular lineup.
  • With CBS scripted out of the mix, most scripted programs on other networks were even to up a tick. The CW's Reign bounced back to that strong 0.7 it last scored after an original The Vampire Diaries (1.1). Still early, but we could end up with an interesting race between Reign and The 100 to stay on the fall weeknight sked.
  • The only network that got nicked, as usual of late, was Fox, though it wasn't as bad after finals. Hell's Kitchen (1.8) was down 10% in week two and American Idol (2.0) has to wait at least another week for its first sub-2.0 rating.
  • There was some demand last week for a Question about whether tonight's original CW lineup (Whose Line Is It Anyway?/Hart of Dixie) can beat Fox's Rake/Enlisted/Raising Hope. Enlisted is a repeat, but it has repeated "well" so I don't see this bringing the network average down a full tenth. My snap instinct says they will tie at 0.5, but I don't feel like agonizing over the ±0.05 on something so low-rated, so I will just throw it out here as an informal discussion prompt rather than a formal Question. Who ya got, Fox, CDub or tie?

Spotted Ratings, Sunday 3/16/14

  • Premiere Sunday on NBC didn't go very well, as Believe (1.5) took a whooping 44% drop in its first episode in its regular timeslot. Crisis (1.6) actually did garner an OK amount of initial interest (more than I expected, especially if you'd told me Believe had a 1.5), but it still likely needs to overachieve in the coming weeks to give itself a shot at a long-term future.
  • On ABC, Resurrection (3.1) is still looking quite promising, down 18% from last week's huge premiere. That's basically an average drop, and that premiere number would've been quite tough to sustain anyway. And Once Upon a Time (2.4) and Revenge (1.7) were even to down minimally, managing to avoid the huge week two drops that their fellow long hiatus shows (Grey's Anatomy/Scandal) experienced.
  • Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (2.0) remained pretty solid, down just a tenth in week two for Fox (though it might have been a bit steeper drop if not for the week one simulcast). CBS' only notable was a sizable decline for The Mentalist (1.3), ending its long streak of high-1's ratings.

Spotted Ratings, Saturday 3/15/14

Spotted Ratings, Friday 3/14/14

  • Fox's Rake (0.5) remained a massive disaster in its new Friday home. This was actually a couple tenths behind last week's repeat of Bones (0.7) in the hour, though its lead-out Enlisted (0.5) adjusted down to join it at 0.5 (a new low for that show). There could be some drama about whether Fox actually continues to play this out, though it's hard to imagine they could've really expected much better based on its miserable Thursday results.
  • After its huge drop last week, Hannibal (0.9) got a bit of it back in week three. Its lead-in Grimm (1.6) also ticked up again.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spotted Ratings, Wednesday 3/19/14

  • It's been a pretty good season for CW newbies, but The 100 was arguably their most impressive premiere yet. It opened with 2.73 million viewers and a 0.9 A18-49 rating, actually building on its lead-in from Arrow (0.8). Though this is only a bit above the premiere of previous occupant The Tomorrow People (2.32m/0.85, which rounded up to 0.9), it's a few notches more impressive given its later placement on the calendar. The 18-34 skew isn't as promising (it had a 0.7 out of Arrow's 0.8), and it doesn't have to underachieve that much to find itself in real trouble, but the CW will very happily take this start.
  • The usual Wednesday reality battle continues to swing more heavily toward CBS' Survivor (2.5), widening its lead over a cratering American Idol (2.2, and just a 2.0 in the 8:00 hour). And the usual Wednesday crime drama battle got kinda ugly on both sides; Criminal Minds (2.2), Law and Order: SVU (1.5) and Chicago PD (1.4) were all at or near season lows. NBC's Revolution (1.2) also hit a new one.
  • ABC sat out most of its lineup, so Mixology (1.2) got its first taste of life without an original Modern Family lead-in.

The Adults 18-34 Primer, Part 2: Which Shows Skew 18-34?

Last time, the adults 18-34 primer began by introducing the 18-34 audience, from its potential importance in ratings analysis to how often it watches TV in the broadest senses compared to the larger 18-49 demo. This time, the focus shifts to what people really care about: individual shows!

There are really two ways of incorporating a new rating into the conversation. We can just stay on the paradigm we all know pretty well (18-49 ratings) and use 18-34 to color around it, or we can dive right in with a formula that combines them into one all-new, grand unified metric. I think the first approach is more practical, more useful as a starting point, and (with how relatively little we have to go on) probably more mathematically sound for now. So that's what this post will try to accomplish. In the last post, we'll take an unscientific stab at the other approach.

This post examines a selection of broadcast shows using their 18-34 ratings as a percentage of their 18-49 ratings (what we called "34/49" in the first post). Basically, the higher a show is listed in this article, the more the 18-34 might "help" what we think of as its 18-49 ratings situation. It shouldn't be looked at as a hierarchy of strength on its own. You can skew heavily toward 18-34 by percentage but still have weak overall volume. Think of it not as a "How strong is this show?" metric, but a "How much might 18-34 ratings help this show?" metric.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Question, Wednesday 3/19/14: Will The 100 Help Repopulate the CW?

The CW premieres its last new drama of the season tonight, the sci-fi drama The 100. While I think it looks more intriguing than previous occupant The Tomorrow People, I see the initial interest being about the same: roughly a tenth below whatever its Arrow lead-in does. TTP was very compatible with Arrow, after all, and it opened with a 0.85 out of a 0.93 lead-in from Arrow. So the real issue here is what Arrow will do. This causes more anxiety than one might expect since Arrow hit a series low 0.7 two weeks ago. But I can't help but think this night was an anomaly. (Tomorrow fully holding its own low from that night in a move to Monday further supports this.) Even with DST, I expect an Arrow bounce-back to 0.8 or 0.9. And The 100 goes a tenth below.

The 100 Over/Under: 0.75.

Spotted Ratings, Tuesday 3/18/14

  • After finals adjustments, The Voice (3.6) and the third regularly-scheduled originals of lead-out newbies About a Boy (2.1) and Growing Up Fisher (1.8) were all up a tick week-to-week.
  • Fox also had a bounce-back thanks to the 100th episode of Glee (1.1), but a repeat New Girl (0.7) at 9/8c halted that momentum, helping usher Brooklyn Nine-Nine (1.1) to a new low.
  • ABC's special Marvel Studios: Assembling a Universe (1.5) did much worse than the usual Agents of SHIELD original, but much better than the usual repeat. The Goldbergs (1.7) continued to operate apart from the 8/7c hour, growing two tenths week-to-week.
  • And the CW had a new season low from The Originals (0.7), though Supernatural (0.9) adjusted up to merely tie its low
  • Cable: Pretty Little Liars (1.28) had a truly massive 55% finale spike to a season high. After being down double-digits for most of the back half of this winter season, it ended with a finale up 9% year-to-year

SpotVault - Crisis (NBC) - 2013-14 Ratings

Sundays, 10/9c, NBC

SpotVault - Dancing with the Stars (ABC) - Spring 2014 Ratings

Dancing with the Stars
Mondays, 8/7c, ABC

SpotVault - Hell's Kitchen (Fox) - Spring/Summer 2014 Ratings

Hell's Kitchen
Thursdays, 8/7c, Fox

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Spotted Ratings, Monday 3/17/14

  • It looks like the stabilization of Dancing with the Stars in the fall was not just a one-season wonder, as the show had a pretty good spring premiere with 14.98 million viewers and a 2.6 A18-49 rating. This was well below the last two premieres (not opposite The Voice) but actually a tick above the last one that did face The Voice in fall 2012.
  • DWTS' return had no impact on The Voice (4.1), which bounced back from a down night against The Bachelor's finale last week. But it seemed to mow down the older-skewing scripted shows in its path, just like it always did when it was much bigger. 2 Broke Girls (2.2) and Mom (1.8) hit new series lows, while Mike and Molly (1.8) tied the low set last week following a 2BG repeat. Fox's big drop from Bones (1.4) was even more brutal, with The Following (1.4) also down another tick.
  • It may not mean much, but the CW's The Tomorrow People (0.4) held up OK in its move to Monday. It technically tied the last original after Arrow, but that was its first 0.4, so this is closer to what would be expected based on its usual 0.5 level.
  • Cable: what in the world is going on with Bates Motel (0.72)? After a roughly steady season premiere, week two dropped 28% and was down by the same amount vs. week two of last year. And now week three, down another 21%, and now 39% below week three of season one! After extremely steady ratings for a season and an episode, it's all come crashing down for this show.

First Two Weeks, About a Boy/Growing Up Fisher

We'll do these two in tandem since they are somewhat connected. Anyway, the new comedies About a Boy and Growing Up Fisher did not exactly have the traditional week one and week two since they had Olympics previews (2.2/2.0) and then pilot repeats (2.3/2.0) before the actual regular timeslot originals began. But we'll use the first regularly scheduled originals, which had a respectable 2.5 (About a Boy) and 1.9 (Growing Up Fisher). The Voice led in with a 4.1 demo (including a 4.4 at 8:30), which was actually up from the 3.7 (4.0 at 8:30) that had led into the pilot repeats the week before.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Question, Monday 3/17/14: Will a Dancing Premiere Still Star Against the Voice?

Tonight, ABC goes out of Bachelor mode and back into Dancing with the Stars mode, a switch that has in recent years become a ratings downgrade (at least in the demo). Still, the fall season was pretty positive for Dancing, as it took only a single-digit year-to-year drop following several seasons of 20%+ declines. Its last couple premieres have benefited because the show got a one-week head start on The Voice, but The Voice's February return this year means DWTS has nowhere to hide this time. Will a Dancing premiere still star against The Voice? That's The Question for Monday, March 17, 2014.

The Adults 18-34 Primer, Part 1: Fundamentals of 18-34 Ratings

Coverage of TV ratings has evolved a lot. If you look back at the trade coverage circa 2000, household ratings were the day-to-day currency of choice, even though the industry had changed to a young demo focus decades earlier. Demos soon became a part of the picture, but even just a few years ago, almost all media seemingly weighted total viewership and adults 18-49 ratings pretty much equally. Now, at least in the more advanced circles, it's almost solely an 18-49 world. We know that the correlation with advertising money is massively stronger using 18-49 ratings rather than total viewers. If you're in the cultural popularity business, go with viewership, but 18-49 ratings are far more telling about success and how the industry works.

But it's become clear that there are predictable tendencies even deeper than that single linear relationship. The correlation with 18-49 ratings is good, but beyond that... even younger is better. We see this every year when I line up the ad rates and the ratings; shows like The Simpsons and New Girl skew extraordinarily young and are also the shows that get the most advertising revenue per adults 18-49 rating point. And this ad rates relationship translates to real decision-making. Just last week, the very young-skewing The Mindy Project got early renewed with borderline flop 18-49 numbers.

So today, a three-part investigation into the even younger demo of adults 18-34 begins. Today, we'll use ad rates to lay out the reasons for actually delving into this stuff, and then we'll make some big picture comparisons between the 18-34 and 18-49 demos. The last two posts will then be much more about individual shows.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Question, Sunday 3/16/14: Will NBC Have a Sunday Drama Crisis?

After six months of sports, specials and repeats, it's finally time for NBC Sunday to get turned over to original entertainment programming, starting with tonight's timeslot premieres of new dramas Believe and Crisis. Believe got a decent 2.7 on Monday after The Voice and with little drama competition, but the situation is getting massively worse tonight. The huge lead-in's going away, and it's being thrown up against genre dramas The Walking Dead and Resurrection. Tonight the shows may have an OK lead-in from The Voice's "Best of the Blinds" recap special. (It got a 3.0 in the fall, but that was in the show's regular original timeslot, so it'll be nowhere near that tonight.) Breaking 2.0 would be a win for Believe, but I'm expecting mid-to-high 1's, with Crisis dropping a bit more from there.

 Believe PLUS Crisis Over/Under: 2.95.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Spotted Ratings, Thursday 3/13/14

  • Fox returned to Thursday respectability, growing 42% week-to-week with the pulling of Rake and the plugging in of Hell's Kitchen (2.0) at 8/7c. The Hell's premiere was down from the 2.2 two-hour average to kick off last season, but comparing just 8:00 hours it was just a single tenth drop (2.1 last year). American Idol (2.2) saw no change in its move to 9/8c, but that may be a good thing considering its big drop on Wednesday.
  • The first Thursday after Daylight Saving saw some minor slippage for shows in the 8/7c hour, most noticeably The Millers (2.4). Grey's Anatomy (2.3) got nicked at 9/8c, perhaps from having some actual Fox competition in the hour.
  • And the CW's Reign (0.5) adjusted down after finals, so it was down two tenths in its first episode with a repeat The Vampire Diaries lead-in (0.3). So instead of an extremely good hold, it was more like a solid-to-neutral hold. (It's a bit worse than expected when compared directly to last week's 0.7, but that number was itself higher than normal for the show.)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Spotted Ratings, Wednesday 3/12/14

  • The first Wednesday after DST was actually pretty steady for most of the 8/7c occupants, but that may be because they picked up some pieces from American Idol's (2.4) latest double-digit drop. The show dropped behind Survivor (2.5) in the 8:00 hour as well as overall. (Also worth noting the week-to-week decline in PUT didn't appear as significant as the last couple days.)
  • On ABC, the shows that appeared to overachieve last week each dropped back this week, though a big uptick in finals helped reduce Suburgatory's drop to just a tenth. But Mixology (1.5) still followed up its 100% week two hold by losing two tenths in week three. (Modern Family (3.4) retention is now at 44%.)
  • And on CBS, Survivor (2.5) was up a notch even against DST (it also grew this week last year), while the crime dramas remained consistently inconsistent; Criminal Minds (2.3) was down noticeably and CSI (2.0) was back up noticeably.
  • Cable: lots of drops, but it was most brutal for The Americans (0.39). I thought there was no way this show would maintain the same 40%+ year-to-year slippage from premiere night, but here we are... this was 41% behind week three of season one.

SpotVault - Believe (NBC) - 2013-14 Ratings

Sundays, 9/8c, NBC

SpotVault - Resurrection (ABC) - 2013-14 Ratings

Sundays, 9/8c, ABC

SpotVault - Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (Fox) - 2013-14 Ratings

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
Sundays, 9/8c, Fox

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Spotted Ratings, Tuesday 3/11/14

  • On Monday, a collision between The Bachelor's huge finale and Daylight Saving viewing depression produced some ugly numbers on other networks. But Tuesday saw DST plus a reduction in competition, as CBS went into repeats. So these results were much more mixed. ABC's drama department had the best night, as Agents of SHIELD (2.1) produced another double-digit surge with NCIS off the air. And at 10/9c, week three of Mind Games (0.8) had a spike from last week's 0.6 debacle (though it got a bit less ridiculous after giving back a tick in finals). As with Mixology's week two hold, this will likely be enough to buy Mind Games a bit more time.
  • Downward finals adjustments hurt NBC's scripted shows; About a Boy (2.0) ended up down a steep 20% from last week's timeslot premiere. (In prelims, its lead-in The Voice went from a 4.4 at 8:30 down 14% to a prelim 3.8 this week). And Growing Up Fisher (1.7), while more resilient, also ended up down multiple ticks after finals.
  • The Tuesday loser, as usual, was Fox, where the disastrous mix of Glee (0.9), New Girl (1.3) and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (1.2) keeps getting even worse. All three of these shows tied season lows set in what should've been tougher situations (Glee on Thanksgiving, NG and BK-99 against the Olympics).
  • Cable: BET's duo of The Game (1.13) and Let's Stay Together (0.58) each dropped by over 30% from last week's premieres. TNT's Rizzoli and Isles (0.88) and Perception (0.53) also had a noteworthy night, each surging by over 30% to spring highs.

The True Top 25, Week Ending 3/9/14 (2013-14 Week 24)

For the second straight week, ABC had five of the True Top 10, this time thanks to a genuine surprise from the enormous premiere of Resurrection. This was the fifth series premiere of the 2013-14 season to hit a 3.5 or higher demo, after we had just one (Revolution) last season. Just keep this in mind when you read the "people are becoming less inclined to watch new shows" trend pieces during bad development seasons.

And it may not be a stretch to say it is the most impressive premiere rating in a very long time. It's the second-highest True for a series premiere this season, and you could argue it should be higher if the cable competition adjustment were less timid. In True, it handily out-gunned similarly raw-rated The Blacklist (Voice lead-in), The Crazy Ones (Big Bang lead-in) and Sleepy Hollow (relatively little competition). Only Agents of SHIELD started bigger, and we all know that had very good external reasons to do so.

The other stuff was pretty much as usual: The Big Bang Theory was easily the #1 broadcast program. Shark Tank and 20/20 were the Friday representatives. And The Blacklist and The Millers represented the new shows, making for a foursome alongside the impressive premieres of Resurrection and Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.

Spotted Ratings, Sunday 3/9/14

  • Here come all of the "back to life" headlines! ABC's Resurrection opened to a massive 13.9 million viewers and 3.8 adults 18-49 rating. I said last week that there was a very wide range of possibilities here, but this went beyond even what I imagined. It's a big win not just for ABC (which really needed it) but for broadcast TV in general, especially considering how these nets have been increasingly rejected on Sunday nights lately. The show was able to co-exist with male 18-34 powerhouse The Walking Dead because it leaned much more toward the female 25-54 end of the demo (scoring a prelim 5.4 there).
  • Surrounding this big event were nice bounces from the returns of Once Upon a Time (2.3) and Revenge (1.9), though in the True metrics it looks like a much bigger deal for Once; Revenge didn't get that much help from its biggest lead-in in well over a year.
  • Though it won't grab the headlines on this night, Fox had a solid premiere in a very crowded hour from its science documentary Cosmos: A Spacetime Journey (2.1). Though these numbers are worth touting, Fox will probably prefer you look at the cumulative numbers from a simulcast across all most of its cable networks. It averaged a 2.9 across all ten networks, with no individual network cracking the cable top 100.
  • As ABC and Fox soared, CBS was left behind. The Amazing Race (1.8) saw its usual week three rally from a terrible first two weeks against the Olympics and the Oscars, but this point was still down 24% from week three of last spring. The Good Wife (1.3) was also on the low end, though the The Mentalist (1.6) continued to look pretty good at 10/9c. NBC sat out one last Sunday with a 1.1 for four hours of Dateline and The Voice repeats; its big premiere night comes next week.
  • Cable: yet another major success story in the 9/8c hour was the finale of True Detective (1.57), which soared to  nearly a half point above any previous result. And The Walking Dead (6.30) was only down 2% week-to-week, though it had huge competition last week as well from Oscar.

Spotted Ratings, Saturday 3/8/14

  • NBC dominated a repeat-filled Saturday with the debut of a new Saturday Dateline franchise. My impression is that these are essentially enhanced repeats in the same vein as the 20/20's that ABC has put on Saturdays in years past, so I'm counting them as repeats (as I did with the 20/20's). If anyone knows/cares enough to refute this, I would be willing to listen!

Spotted Ratings, Friday 3/7/14

  • There was only one mover of note on another Friday of all originals on ABC/CBS/NBC; unfortunately, it was week two of NBC's Hannibal (0.8), and it went in the wrong direction: down by three tenths from last week's semi-respectable premiere. It can't blame its lead-in, as Grimm (1.5) actually ticked up from last week. It's too early to completely write it off, because its financial situation is difficult to pinpoint, but this is an undeniably negative development.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Spotted Ratings, Monday 3/10/14

  • ABC wrapped up another strong season of The Bachelor with the usual huge spike for the finale (3.2 from 8-10pm, 3.8 for the After the Final Rose special). The finale was still down 6% from last season, but that's close to in line with the drop for the season as the whole, and After the Final Rose was even. This will leave the season as a whole at roughly -7% year-to-year. Considering the previous season was itself a big success and this one had a lot of added competition from The Voice and the Olympics, this was another major win for ABC.
  • This added competition plus Daylight Saving took a major chunk out of the other networks. NBC was down double digits from 8:00 to 10:00 with The Voice (3.7) but still got a pretty respectable sampling out of Believe (2.7) in the last hour. I thought coming in that this result needed to be low 2's (or lower) or low 3's (or higher) to really serve as much of an indicator in either direction for its Sunday prospects. Considering The Voice was hit a few ticks more than expected, it might be spun as a minor win, but I would say don't make much of a judgment on this point.
  • On a semi-original night for CBS (with 2 Broke Girls and Mom sitting out), How I Met Your Mother (2.7) and Mike and Molly (1.8) took it in the chin from DST, as did Fox's return to a Monday pairing of Bones (1.7) and The Following (1.5). (For Bones, this was above most of its Friday episodes but well below its fall Monday numbers.)
  • The cable lowlight was A&E's Bates Motel (0.9), down big in week two.

First Two Weeks, Mixology

Modern Family had never led into a truly disappointing series premiere before, but Modern Family had never met anything quite like Mixology. The show managed a terrible 1.7 demo in its premiere, 45% below an also underachieving Modern (3.1). There was a lot of competition from American Idol, Survivor and a well above average Law and Order: SVU, but there was really no spinning this one. It was only a couple ticks ahead of the last Super Fun Night to air after an original Modern.

First Two Weeks, Mind Games

Unlike with the slot's last occupant, ABC made at least some token effort to help the premiere of Mind Games, scheduling a special two-hour The Bachelor to lead in. Unfortunately, it was not of enough assistance to give Mind Games any real shot out of the gate. The Bachelor averaged a 2.5 demo (including a 2.6 at 9:30), but Mind Games averaged just a 1.1, losing well over half of that demo audience.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Question, Monday 3/10/14: Do You Believe NBC Adds Another Strong Drama?

Tonight, NBC will preview Sunday-bound drama Believe after The Voice. Its Sunday 9/8c slot is looking tougher and tougher after Resurrection's huge debut, so hanging a number tonight is crucial. I'm not a buyer on this show's promos, but they may be able to get a premiere with little drama competition to roughly the same numbers as last week's The Blacklist. I might go a bit higher, but The Bachelor's finale night seems likely to siphon a few demo viewers off of Voice's usually strong blind auditions audience.

Over/Under: 2.65.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Question, Sunday 3/9/14: Will Resurrection and Cosmos Bring Their Networks Back to Life?

This Sunday sees a head-to-head premiere duel between two of midseason's biggest promotional darlings. The drama Resurrection got a ton of Academy Awards play and is incredibly high-stakes for ABC, potentially Paul Lee's last stand after a development season of disappointments and many a mega-bomb. And Fox's Seth MacFarlane documentary effort Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey came out of nowhere to get major promo during the Super Bowl. Both have OK but not great lead-in situations; Resurrection leads out of the respectable but fading Once Upon a Time franchise, while Cosmos will have the decent-rated but likely incompatible animated comedies. However, these concepts are unique enough that they may bring their own audiences. (Expensive science documentaries like Planet Earth and Life have certainly done so in the fairly recent past.)

For me, the issue coming into tonight is not who wins between ABC and Fox. It's whether there's any winner. If both shows bomb, I don't care who bombs less. So here's how this game works. "Over" wins if EITHER Resurrection OR Cosmos goes over the line, while "under" wins if NEITHER one goes over.

Highest Rating Among Resurrection AND Cosmos (Fox airing only) Over/Under: 2.25.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Spotted Ratings, Thursday 3/6/14

  • Week two of ABC's return to Thursday relevance did not go nearly as well as week one; Grey's Anatomy (2.6) and Scandal (2.8) were each down over 15% from big premieres last week. And the return of bomb Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (0.9) showed no minor, irrelevant improvement after a finals uptick.
  • On CBS, while The Crazy Ones appeared to have survived unscathed in its move to 9:30 last week, it took a dip in its second episode in the slot (1.7). It looks even worse for that show considering the preceding three comedies The Big Bang Theory (5.3), The Millers (2.9) and Two and a Half Men (2.6) were all on the upswing.
  • The CW followed up its terrible Wednesday with a very good Thursday, as The Vampire Diaries (1.0) was back into the ones for the first time in three eps and Reign (0.7) bounced from its first dip to 0.5 last week all the way back to its first 0.7 since November.
  • Cable numbers up! Vikings (1.14) was down nearly two tenths in week two. USA premiered Suits (0.76) softly, down nearly 40% from its last regular season premiere, and lead-out Sirens (0.49/0.41) got the network's latest push into comedy off to a pretty slow start.

Best Case/Worst Case, Mid-March 2014: Resurrection, Believe, The 100 and More!

Best Case/Worst Case returns today to preview the next nine shows premiering on broadcast, spanning from this Sunday (March 9) through two weeks from this Sunday (March 23). BC/WC will be back in roughly three weeks to hit the very end of March (Surviving Jack, Friends with Better Lives) and into April.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Question Results Through 2/28/14

Here are the results for the ratings prediction game The Question through February 28. The game returns on Sunday and Monday!

Spotted Ratings, Wednesday 3/5/14

  • A week after the Mixology premiere debacle and a terrible all-around Wednesday, ABC was in bounce-back mode. The Middle (1.9), Suburgatory (1.7), Modern Family (3.4) and Nashville (1.5) were all up multiple tenths. Even Mixology (1.7) pulled off the improbable, going dead even and becoming the season's first new show to break even in week two (excluding preview situations like About a Boy and The Originals). Though it's still an unacceptable number, it at least keeps it a bit ahead of the recent Super Fun Night results. So it remains on the schedule at least for now.
  • NBC's Law and Order: SVU (1.6) and Chicago PD (1.5) duo crashed back to earth after last week's big crossover, perhaps also suffering from Criminal Minds (2.6) returning to the 9:00 hour.
  • And the last hurrah for the Arrow (0.7) and The Tomorrow People (0.4) combo was shockingly weak, with each show posting a new series low. The CDub is gonna have to hope Arrow shows a bit better when The 100 premieres after it in a couple weeks. 
  • Cable numbers are up! Week two of FX's The Americans (0.56) took a noticeable post-premiere drop, down 0.12 from last week's premiere. The year-to-year gap only narrowed a bit from premiere night; this point was still down over a third from week two of season one.

The Olympics and NBC's Actual Strength

A TV season with a Winter Olympics is a highly irregular season. We all know this. And most media seem to have at least some sense of the fact that the Olympics seasons become more and more irregular over time, because sports ratings hold up much better than entertainment ratings.

Unfortunately, the analysis ends there. I have a feeling that when end of season ratings come out in a couple months, we're going to see a lot of this kind of stuff: "NBC had a good year in the 18-49 ratings because Olympics." It's absolutely correct to point out things like NFL/Olympic distortions. In fact, it should be done more often; massive rights fees mean they are not nearly as indicative of network "success" as they appear on the surface. But it shouldn't end there. Sports ratings have gotten to the point where they can serve as an easy excuse from doing actual analysis.

This would be OK if the network race were actually stagnant, if NBC's entertainment programming were still deep in the relative toilet. For about seven years after Friends went away, the network landscape was remarkably consistent. Fox was unbelievably dominant, CBS went from meh to solid, ABC went from solid to meh, and NBC was deeply in the toilet. So those narratives became ingrained, and you can still see them persisting even a couple years later. But in reality, even if you remove the distortions, times are changing. Writing off 2013-14 as "because Olympics" (and probably 2014-15 as "because Super Bowl") and continuing to pretend that we're in a 2005-12 world is doing a disservice. So here's a quick stab at actually trying to come up with something beyond "it's inflated by the Olympics."

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Spotted Ratings, Tuesday 3/4/14

  • With everyone finally back in regularly-scheduled business, there was really only one winner: NBC, where The Voice (4.0) was actually up from last week's Tuesday premiere and lead-out comedies About a Boy (2.5) and Growing Up Fisher (1.9) continue to look respectable. I'm not really sure whether we should judge these numbers by series premiere standards, by second episode standards, or somewhere in the middle, but let's see what happens next week. Chicago Fire (1.9) rounded out a night of growth for the peacock.
  • There was carnage on pretty much every other network:
    • CBS followed last week's trio of new season lows with another trio of new lows, as NCIS (2.5), NCIS: Los Angeles (2.1) and Person of Interest (1.7) each inched down again.
    • ABC's Agents of SHIELD (1.8) got walloped across its month-long hiatus (but adjusted up in finals), Trophy Wife (0.8) was more invisible than ever, and Mind Games (0.6) was down by nearly half in its second and maybe final episode as it lost its Bachelor lead-in. And the most promising point in the prelims, The Goldbergs (1.5), dropped in finals, so it was also down.
    • And Fox's Glee (1.0) took a dive in its second week on Tuesday.
  • Cable numbers now in the table: BET brought back The Game (1.6) with a whooping 32% growth on last March's premiere. It's not a total stunner since the show had a huge spike (1.9) to end last season, but it's still very good news. Its long-time BET lead-out Let's Stay Together (0.9) was bumped to 11:00 and matched last year's premiere.

The True Top 25, Week Ending 3/2/14 (2013-14 Week 23)

The Olympics hiatus is finally over, and the networks came back in week 23 to varying results. ABC in particular had an up and down week; their Academy Awards topped the charts and grew year-to-year, and big returns from Grey's Anatomy and Scandal plus a season high True for Shark Tank helped the network score a whooping five of this week's True top 10. On the other hand... there were the series premieres. Even a Modern Family-fueled Mixology couldn't crack the raw numbers top 25 (t-32nd) and was way off the map in True (47th). And Mind Games (75th) had a lower True than the CW's big four programs.

The Big Bang Theory returned with its usual comfortable lead on the rest of the entertainment field, and premiere week of The Voice held off Scandal and Modern Family for the next two spots. Three new shows cracked the list, with the biggest notable being a big surge for Chicago PD in a crossover with Law and Order: SVU. Only Shark Tank and 20/20 represented Friday night, but Grimm (27th) and Hawaii Five-0 (28th) were knocking on the door.

Spotted Ratings, Sunday 3/2/14

  • ABC had another positive Oscar Sunday as the Academy Awards (a not time zone-adjusted 12.1) were exactly even with last year's preliminary 12.1 (which adjusted up to 13.0, then the highest number in three years). The preliminary average for the night was 10.2, edging last year's 10.1.
    • UPDATE: Time zone-adjusted numbers are in: roughly 43 million viewers and a 12.9 adults 18-49 rating. In another illustration of the aging TV audience, it's the highest total viewership for Oscar in ten years, but the 18-49 rating is only in the middle of the pack across that span (and a tenth behind last year).
    • FINALS: The show picked up two more ticks in final numbers, a big psychological move because it puts Oscar a single tenth ahead of last year's show. Red carpet coverage was, on average, similarly barely ahead of last year.
  • As usual, CBS tried throwing The Amazing Race (1.5) at the show, and it managed to stay even with last week's premiere against the Olympics Closing Ceremony (and 21% below the 1.9 vs. Oscar last year). That could be considered a positive since Oscar is a much higher-rated opponent than the Olympics were, but the real key for this show is how it fares next week when it finally faces somewhat normal competition.
  • On cable, the three scripted shows that went up against the awards all dropped slightly week-to-week.

Spotted Ratings, Saturday 3/1/14

Spotted Ratings, Friday 2/28/14

  • The season two premiere of Hannibal (1.1) posted basically the same rating the show was getting at the end of last spring with original comedy lead-ins. (And it was above all five of the series' summer episodes.) It was about 20% below its lead-in from Grimm (1.4). There's really no big judgment to be made from this result; all we can say is that there was no big spike between seasons, but it's at least given itself some chance to settle alongside or even a little above the slot's previous occupant Dracula.
  • ABC and CBS were also back in full original mode on the first Friday after the Olympics. Most shows were about average, with a few shows (Last Man Standing (1.2), Undercover Boss (1.3) and Hawaii Five-0 (1.4)) coming in below average.
  • Fox quietly yanked its scheduled premiere of Kitchen Nightmares in favor of a Bones repeat (0.7), and thus it remained uncompetitive. And the CW's repeats of Whose Line Is It Anyway? (0.4 at 8:00, 0.5 at 8:30) continue to bode well for the show's original return in March.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Spotted Ratings, Monday 3/3/14

  • Week two of The Voice (4.5) began with only a two-tenths drop from last week and remained only a hair behind the corresponding night last spring (4.7). But The Blacklist (2.7) took a noticeable drop in its second week back, dipping well behind any other post-Voice episode.
  • While How I Met Your Mother (3.3) was down a bit more after overachieving last week vs. The Voice, the other CBS comedies 2 Broke Girls (2.6), Mike and Molly (2.2) and Mom (2.0) all rebounded by a tick.
  • ABC tried a repeat of Mixology (1.1) after a 90-minute The Bachelor (2.3), which helped Castle (1.6) find a new low.
  • And Fox's Almost Human (1.5) did not plead its case very well on finale night, limping to the end of season one at a new series low. The finals didn't help it this time, though it did narrow the gap with The Following (down to tie its 1.6 low).
  • On cable, A&E's Bates Motel (1.3) was back in solid fashion, roughly even with its series premiere and the 1.3 series high it would hit four more times later in the season. But it did not help new lead-out Those Who Kill (0.5) get off to much of a start. The night's big mover was TNT's Dallas (0.4), which completely imploded the week after a 0.75 premiere.

First Two Weeks, Star-Crossed

You could pretty much tell where the Star-Crossed story was headed based on how the CW scheduled it. Not only was it put in a lead-off role on broadcast TV's most competitive night (Monday), but it had to premiere opposite the Winter Olympics. The premiere scored 1.28 million viewers and a 0.45 demo, which was at least a bit of an improvement on what Hart of Dixie had done in the slot for most of the season. Given the circumstances, it wasn't a total disaster, but the chances of survival didn't look high. And it didn't resonate in the CDub's younger target demos, notching just a 0.3 A18-34. (Hart has had a mix of 0.3's and 0.4's this season.)

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