Wednesday, August 13, 2014

War of 18-49 Flashback, Lie to Me (Fox, 2009-11)


Scheduling history: Lie to Me debuted in winter 2009 with five episodes after American Idol on Wednesday. The show then moved to 8/7c for the rest of season one, with Idol back to 9/8c. The first half of season two aired on Monday after seemingly compatible House, and the network used the back half of season two to try to push into year-round programming. It scored a season three renewal, but not on the fall schedule; however, it was very quickly called back to its Monday 9/8c slot after Lone Star bombed to a historic degree.

When there was hope: Lie to Me arrived on the scene during the peak years of House, when character-driven procedurals in the same vein had become a hot commodity. With American Idol also squarely in its prime, the network had a nice support system, and it helped vault Lie to Me to one of the 2008-09 season's biggest premieres: 12.37 million viewers and a 4.9 demo rating on 1/21/09. (Idol had double that: 25.90 million and a 9.8.) It trickled downward across the rest of its five episodes after Idol: to 4.4 in week three, 4.1 in week four and 3.7 in week five. After a surprising hold in its first 8/7c episode (3.4), it took big drops the next two weeks and ultimately settled in the mid-2's. That scored it a renewal and a slot after seemingly compatible House in season two. It consistently pulled upper-2 ratings in that slot (while House was usually around 5.0).

When hope was lost: Considering its very good timeslot situations, Lie to Me wasn't really anything special in its first season and a half, but it wasn't exactly a bomb either. Given the rest of the Fox regular season schedule was pretty much filled with goodness at this point, the network decided to take a flier on Lie to Me as a relatively good-faith effort at summer programming, using it to launch co-production drama The Good Guys. The summer run mostly hit upper-1's, which was fairly modest even by summer standards (though The Good Guys did much worse at low-1's). Though it had been renewed for season three, it was held off the fall schedule... until Lone Star got a 1.3 and 1.0 in two episodes with a House lead-in. Lie to Me had one of the earliest replacement premieres I can remember, starting on just the third Monday of the regular season, and it began at 2.1 and mostly found upper-1's from there. As the previous fall, it held just over 50% of a (now in decline) House.

Though it wrapped for the season on January 31, the decision didn't come till near the upfront. It was axed alongside fellow bubble dramas Human Target and The Chicago Code. Honestly, these shows were all fairly weak, and Fox saw much more upside in a high-profile class that included Terra Nova, Alcatraz and Bones spin-off The Finder. But given the disappointments those three became, one wonders if Fox wishes in retrospect that they'd tried to shepherd this modest performer from their studio to syndication levels.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

Seas Year Timeslot Avg y2y Lo Hi Results Grade
1Winter 2009Wednesday 9:003.332.34.9

22009-10Monday 9:002.22-33%1.63.1

3Fall 20101.90-15%1.52.5

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

Seas Year A18-49+ Label Now15 y2y Lo Hi Premiere Finale
1Winter 2009 111 solid1.86 76 163 163 86
22009-10 79 solid(sum)1.33 -29% 57 110 103 57
3Fall 2010 75 marginal1.26 -5% 59 98 83 87

For more on The War of 18-49, my look at the history of primetime TV's veteran shows, see the Index.


Spot said...

Lie to Me was one of those shows with bad retention from stronger lead ins that never did very much for itself. I believe it did repeat well compared to its live ratings, which is probably what cut it some slack, but I have no data to support that

Spot said...

CBS SERIOUSLY needs to preempt 60 Minute repeats. Not a fan, but Big Brother starting on time with a better overrun audience could have done wonders

Spot said...

The Last Ship is a pleasant surprise to me. It's maintained a 1.x rating on a busy cable night (True Blood, Witches of East End, Ray Donovan) that TNT had paid little attention previously until Falling Skies and Leverage.

Spot said...

Do you have any episode-by-episode ratings you could put in the spotvault? just wondering...

Spot said...

I'm loving The Strain. Great numbers for the show.

Spot said...

It would have done wonders for a 15-year-old imported Summer filler show that should've burned out twelve years ago? Do you think CBS is really proud of Big Brother?

Spot said...

It's their #1 original show in summer again now. That kind of says to me that the network should be Doing Something to strengthen it.

(Then again, I've been calling for outright cancellation of 60 Minutes for the best part of a year now, you can ignore me on this!)

Spot said...

How is a golf lead-in is going to pump up future Big Brother numbers?

Spot said...

Only the two Dancing with the Stars finales and the David Blaine special did better. Given it had a huge 3.1 W25-54, I wonder how big it could have been airing after Dancing with the Stars.
It was a really well done program. I really didn't feel like it was trying to profit from the loss

Spot said...

It's not that a golf overrun would have been any significant help to Big Brother. But that CBS still has a slavish devotion to 60 Minutes that they can't ever envision a scenario where it's preeempted is the real issue.

Spot said...

No more incompatible than 60 Minutes (R) already is. :) But in this case, it's not even "strengthening the show's future episodes," it's just "maximise the audience for this one by starting on time."

Spot said...

I'll try to get to this (and all the other Flashback posts) at some point soon.

Spot said...


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