Thursday, June 19, 2014

The War of 18-49, Rookie Blue


Scheduling history: ABC's entire run of Rookie Blue has aired on Thursday. Season one aired on Thursday at 9/8c after Wipeout, then the last three seasons have aired in the 10:00 hour. It was back to 9/8c for season five, then at 10/9c again for the sixth and final run.

See (who saw) how it all began: ABC launched the drama co-production Rookie Blue with one of the best summer lead-ins they could provide: a still near-its-peak Wipeout. On 6/24/10, Wipeout posted 7.88 million viewers and a 2.6 demo rating, then Rookie Blue declined to 7.24 million viewers and a 1.9. It held onto that audience well in week two (6.78/1.8), then dipped big to 1.5 in week three before rallying to a roughly 1.6 level (including a couple more 1.8's). It finished season one on quite the stinky note with a 1.1 and 1.2 the last two weeks due to NFL competition, but the rest of its season was enough for renewal.

The best of times: Rookie Blue's best raw and historical-adjusted numbers came in season one, and it's never gotten any better than the 1.9 on series premiere night. But then again, it never again had a lead-in as good as 2010 Wipeout. Following the 19% drop in season two, it's been pretty steadily in the low 1's.

The worst of times: Prior to season five, Rookie Blue dropped below a 1.0 demo just three times. But most season five episodes were sub-1, including a new low 0.8 on 7/3/14 and 8/7/14. Every season's low point was right around a 40 Plus... until season six, when it didn't even average that. It premiered on a rotten new low 0.6, rallied a bit over the next month, but then dropped again in the second half of season six. It got down to its first and only 0.5 on 8/27/15.

Then vs. now: Since it aired after Wipeout in season one, Rookie Blue's lead-ins have mostly been disappointments like Expedition Impossible, Duets and Motive. That streak continued in its later years with the struggling co-production Black Box and more marginal drama Mistresses. But Rookie Blue mostly remained a pretty consistently not-that-bad-for-summer performer even with little help. If reports about a $250,000ish license fee are true, they're paying only a small fraction of the cost for a "normal" drama or even many unscripted options. The show's 22-episode order for season five was officially split into two separate seasons, and it saw the first significant ratings downturn on ABC. That led ABC and Global to announce its cancellation after six years.

Adults 18-49 ratings by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
1Summer 2010Thursday 9:001.561.11.9detail
2Summer 2011Thursday 10:001.27-19%1.01.6detail
3Summer 20121.22-4%0.91.5detail
4Summer 20131.05-14%0.91.2detail
5Summer 2014Thursday 9:000.95-10%0.81.1detailB-
6Summer 2015Thursday 10:000.65-31%0.50.8detailD

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
1Summer 2010 55 marg(sum)0.93 39 68 68 43
2Summer 2011 50 marg(sum)0.84 -10% 39 63 63 47
3Summer 2012 52 marg(sum)0.87 +4% 38 63 59 51
4Summer 2013 50 marg(sum)0.84 -3% 43 57 57 47
5Summer 2014 50 marg(sum)0.84 +0% 42 58 58 53
6Summer 2015 39 flop0.65 -22% 30 48 36 42

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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