Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The War of 18-49, Pretty Little Liars


Scheduling history: Most episodes of Pretty Little Liars have aired on Tuesday at 8/7c, but the network tried its first couple winter runs on what was historically its premier original night (Monday).

See (who saw) how it all began: Pretty Little Liars had a pretty respectable start on ABC Family, opening with 2.47 million viewers and a 0.9 demo on 6/8/10. This put it a bit below the network's flagship show at the time: The Secret Life of the American Teenager, which usually hit low-1's that summer. Liars held its 0.9 in week two, inched up to 1.0 in week three, bounced down to 0.7 and back up to 1.0, and then steadied at 0.9 for the most of the rest of the summer 2010 run. That summer closed on a new series high 1.1 on 8/10/10.

The best of times: Since the midpoint of season one, Pretty Little Liars has had remarkably consistent raw numbers. It's mostly been in the low-1's for the last three and a half seasons. A show built on teases and big reveals, PLL has occasionally spiked big-time for premieres and finales. The series high remains a 1.6 for the season two finale on 3/19/12, and that was massively up from a 1.0 the previous week. The last couple winter runs have also had huge spikes to 1.3, way up from the previous week.

The worst of times: The weakest run of episodes remains the series' opening weeks in summer 2010. The show pulled just a 0.7 in week four of the series on 6/29/10 and took over four years to go that low again (it happened on 1/20/15). The winter 2015 run finally saw raw numbers below the first half of season one, and season five also had the series' biggest year-to-year declines. However, the declines still weren't much more than the average decline for broadcast originals, and the 1.3 to end season five was one of the show's most impressive points ever. The 1.39 to end the first half of season six may have been even better. But PLL finally went into collapse mode in the second half of season six, and it mostly continued throughout the final season. It fell as low as a 0.40 on 5/2/17.

Then vs. now: The raw numbers story with Pretty Little Liars has long been pretty boring, but that kind of consistency has made PLL increasingly valuable over the years. It was an impressive player from day one, but it was outdrawn by Secret Life in its first season and a half. Only starting in 2012 did Pretty Little Liars emerge as ABC Family's top series, and it's now gone several years with no real challengers for that title. Like the CW's flagship The Vampire Diaries, much of its value comes from its great resiliency, even though it skews toward a historically fickle demographic.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

1Summer 2010Tuesday 8:000.920.71.1detail
Winter 2011Monday 8:
2Summer 2011Tuesday 8:000.97+6%0.81.3detail
Winter 2012Monday 8:001.11-3%0.81.6
3Summer 2012Tuesday 8:001.02+5%0.91.3detail
Winter 20131.17+6%1.01.4
4Summer 20131.12+10%0.91.4detail
Winter 20141.02-13%0.81.3
Winter 20150.88-14%0.71.3
6Summer 20150.89-5%0.71.4detailB
Winter 20160.70-20%0.61.1
7Summer 20160.58-35%0.50.7detailD
Spring 20170.51-27%0.40.7

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

1Summer 20103325393239
Winter 20114535595951
2Summer 20113831515139
Winter 20124733685568
3Summer 20124337544751
Winter 20135649686856
4Summer 20135341686168
Winter 20145443686468
Winter 20155240765676
6Summer 20155343836383
Winter 20164838737341
7Summer 20164036474647
Spring 20174233595359


The War of 18-49 chronicles the ratings history of veteran primetime series. For more, see the Index.

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