Big Four Ratings
2013-14 felt like another terrible season for sitcoms, but that doesn't really show up in these category averages; comedies went down just a point, from 103 to 102. This was despite every single network getting weaker in comedies (a couple of them much weaker), and the total volume of sitcoms aired going up. So what gives on the 103 -> 102 thing?
The key is in the network real estate counts. Specifically, the strongest comedy network (CBS) added a sitcom hour in 2013-14, while the weakest one (NBC) barely aired half as many comedy hours as last year. This made a seismic difference, enough to nearly cancel out the general weakening. Perhaps the new comedy depression will become more evident next year when CBS returns to three comedy hours (and loses How I Met Your Mother, to boot).
The other noticeable ratings trend this year was the rise of low-priority unscripted programming (which I oversimplify under the term "News"). A couple of these shows are lead-in driven; 60 Minutes (104) is probably on an inevitable upward trend since its NFL lead-ins will keep getting stronger relative to entertainment shows, and 20/20 (78) got a lot of help from Shark Tank. But even shows like Dateline (67) and America's Funniest Home Videos (74) had their best seasons or close to it in the era. I've always thought of these shows as something like the "control group" of primetime, shows that tend to closely follow the true league average decline. If they're getting stronger, maybe that says something bad about the other programming, which is declining more quickly. Or maybe these shows have just upped their games?
Big Four Real Estate
2013-14 was the heaviest year on scripted programming in the A18-49+ era, with the 64% scripted total easily surpassing the upper-50's count of recent seasons and even inching past the previous high of 63% in 2005-06. This is probably less about scripted programming and more about some of the traditional unscripted franchises giving up real estate; Dancing with the Stars cut back to one night in 2013-14, American Idol made a return to the long-abandoned 30 minute results shows, and Celebrity Apprentice sat out the season entirely. Most of that real estate went to scripted series.
Here's the now updated A18-49+ Comedies, Dramas and Unscripted post.