Friday, August 15, 2014

The War of 18-49, Blue Bloods


Scheduling history: Aside from a four-episode Wednesday tryout midway through season one, Blue Bloods' whole run to date has aired on Friday at 10/9c.

See (who saw) how it all began: It had been five years since anything new clicked for CBS on Friday, but Blue Bloods had a star with real appeal for the Friday crowd and a compatible lead-in from CSI: NY. It began on 9/24/10 with 13.01 million viewers and a strong-for-Friday 2.2 demo rating, building on its CSI: NY lead-in (2.0). It dropped just a bit each of the next three weeks, to 2.0 and 1.8 and 1.7, but it steadied at the 1.7ish level for the rest of season one.

The best of times: The series premiere's 2.2 remains Blue Bloods' outright series high, but several episodes have come close. It broke a 2.0 three times in its four-episode Wednesday tryout during season one (though that run was regarded as a bit of a disappointment given the higher viewing levels and its big Criminal Minds lead-in). It then broke 2.0 another three times on Friday early in season two. The 2's may be past Blue Bloods now, but seasons four and five were probably its most valuable. the 2013-14 run was up in raw numbers for both the premiere (1.7) and finale (1.4), and the season as a whole was exactly even year-to-year.

The worst of times: Like some other CBS Friday shows, Blue Bloods has had a strange tendency to really tail off at the end of the season. After hanging around a 1.7 for almost all of season two, it suddenly went 1.5 -> 1.4 -> 1.3 to end that season. Then it dropped to a new series low 1.1 for the season three finale on 5/10/13. It managed to avoid this phenomenon in season four, but another stinker late in season five (on 4/24/15) made 1.0 the new low. Two years later, it found its first fractional result with a stinker 0.8 on 4/28/17, but rallied back to 1.0 for the finale. And it put up its first 0.7 at the same time the next year (on 5/4/18).

Then vs. now: Blue Bloods is one of those rare TV successes in this day and age that was explicitly designed to skew super-old. Tom Selleck's recent track record in the Jesse Stone movies pretty much ensured that would be the case. Most shows that appear to be old-skewing going in aren't able to cast a wide enough net to score an acceptable volume of advertiser-friendly viewers, but Selleck's Blue Bloods audience has been substantial from day one. A somewhat rocky season three and the loss of its CSI: NY lead-in made things look a little shaky for Blue Bloods entering season four, but Hawaii Five-0 injected a surprising amount of new demo interest into CBS Friday. These two shows debuted in the same week in 2010 with very different expectations, but they will be an even longer-term team than CSI: NY and Blue Bloods were. And a very good season for Bloods in 2015-16 has made it an official member of the CBS Friday pantheon; this A18-49+ level was even higher than the peak years of Ghost Whisperer and Numb3rs.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

12010-11Fri 10:00, Wed 10:001.771.52.2detail
22011-12Friday 10:001.72-3%1.32.1detail

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:



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


Spot said...

It's a war of the 18-49 post, so this isn't particularly relavent, but this show has only gone under 10 million viewers ONCE. When its lead in was the disastrous week to of made in Jersey

Spot said...

It didn't help that during season 2 its lead in CSI: NY tailed off majorly at the end. And season three it had to deal with SEVEN sub one lead ins! Never actually seen this show, but I think it is pretty resilient considering

Spot said...

It needs to make some money out of these viewers, so these people could do with getting their children into watching as well, but having said that, a show that draws 9 million over-49s in a low-priority hour doesn't need that many in-demo eyeballs to be worthwhile for CBS even if it basically makes all its money on the back end as a syndication machine. (I presume that ION and WGN America, who have the traditional syndication rights, will be able to monetize the old crowd through airing episodes in different dayparts - as I understand it, a lot of why advertisers target 18-49 and/or 18-34 in network primetime is the lack of other television they watch, and I presume sheer number of eyeballs is much more relevant to daytime syndication even though demos clearly do still matter there.)

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