Monday, December 15, 2014

A18-49+: 2001-02 Season Recap


The A18-49+ yearly recaps combine one single season's updates to each of the A18-49+ theme posts (linked for each section below). On the theme posts: I've moved the tables with every single year (the "put 'em all together" sections) to the top of each post and put the 2001-02 and 2002-03 numbers (along with the updated 2003-04 thru 2005-06) in each of those tables. Except for New Shows (which was a simple copy&paste) I have not updated everything below those initial tables: that is, the text recaps and tables broken apart into sections. I might get into that at the end of the month, but more likely the full text updates won't come until I'm adding the 2014-15 stuff this summer.

Defining Shows/Overall Thoughts:

The 2001-02 season wasn't the last one in which NBC rode Friends and ER to the top of the ratings charts. But it was probably the last time that the network's grip on primetime seemed unbreakable. As a network, NBC's originals averaged a whooping 128 in A18-49+, a number about on par with the very biggest years of Fox's prime in the late aughts. I would argue this number was even more impressive than anything Fox did, since NBC didn't devote as much time to one individual giga-hit and also had to program the 10:00 hour.

Of course, Thursday was the NBC highlight as always, with bookends Friends (303) and ER (297) sandwiching a still very strong 9:00 hour of Will and Grace (224) and Just Shoot Me (187). But what made NBC stand so far ahead of its 2002-03/2003-04 counterparts was the increased strength on Tuesday and Wednesday. In particular, the 2001-02 editions of The West Wing (159) and Frasier (157) were miles ahead of the ratings they'd pull in subsequent seasons. And Monday was competitive, especially at midseason when the sophomore reality series Fear Factor (142) was introduced. The network's only real holes were the pre-Frasier hour on Tuesday (initially led by infamous disaster Emeril (63)), and the modest Sunday lineup led by newbie Law & Order: Criminal Intent (99) and the final run of Weakest Link (77).

In the fight for the scraps, CBS finished second, mostly because they had some actual legit bright spots. Everybody Loves Raymond (179) anchored a very solid two-hour comedy lineup on Monday, while Survivor (197 fall/201 spring) led into burgeoning megahit CSI (203) to give NBC a real run for its money on Thursday (at least for the first two hours). But it was still only barely ahead of third-place Fox because the network was so uncompetitive on other nights. The only other hour on the entire schedule to even break league average was Tuesday's Judging Amy (100). A far cry from the consistently decent CBS schedules we've seen in modern times, the CBS of these days was actually the most "feast or famine" network of all.

That left Fox just behind CBS for third and ABC in a distant fourth. Considering the network averages, one might think these schedules were full of holes. But they actually had surprisingly few huge problem areas; the only deeply pressing issue for both was Thursday, when competing against the Survivor/Friends/CSI/ER gauntlet remained an impossibility. To put it simply, these networks struggled because they just didn't have hits. In fact, the only hit entertainment hour on the two networks combined was Fox's Sunday 8/7c combo of The Simpsons (143) and Malcolm in the Middle (133). The closest ABC got was Sunday 10/9c drama The Practice (122). Beyond that, there was plenty of league average-ish blandness.

New Scripted Shows:


Total Flop Renew Solid Hit Big Hit
2001-02 35 14 12 8 3 2



Flop% Renew% Solid% Hit% BigHit%
2001-02 40% 34% 23% 9% 6%

Big Hits: Leap of Faith (184), Inside Schwartz (178)
Hits: Scrubs (142)
Solid: Crossing Jordan (119), The Bernie Mac Show (107), Alias (105), Baby Bob (104), According to Jim (100)
Sub-solid renewals: Law and Order: CI (99), 24 (98), Watching Ellie (98), Andy Richter Controls the Universe (88), The Agency (86), George Lopez (81), The Guardian (78)

Renews by network: ABC 3, CBS 2, NBC 4, Fox 3

NBC's wealth as a network extended into the newbie class, where they produced the top four of the season. Unfortunately... the first two aired directly after the 303-rated Friends, and NBC didn't mess around with giving them a chance to collapse elsewhere. The other two were a different story; Scrubs (142) had very good retention of Frasier on Tuesday, and Crossing Jordan built noticeably on Third Watch on Monday. Those two along with Law and Order: CI were ultimately long-term decent but unspectacular performers for NBC.

ABC and Fox also produced some long-term decent players in this season, but nothing that went on to be a huge player. The Bernie Mac Show, Alias, According to Jim, 24 and George Lopez all ran for 5+ seasons, but 24 was the only one that ever produced a hit season. CBS pretty thoroughly struck-out; CSI lead-out The Agency moved to Saturday for season two and failed to ignite the night, while The Guardian got three seasons on Tuesday but continued to deteriorate.

The biggest newbie excitement in 2001-02 came on the netlets. Initially, the biggest win was UPN's Star Trek series Enterprise (79), which opened at a simply colossal 6.3 rating (146 A18-49+) but was at less than half of that in the second half of the season. WB's Smallville (70) opened at a much lower (if still very good) 3.8 but held a lot better post-premiere and was actually out-rating Enterprise in spring comparisons. Those trends continued big-time in their respective sophomore seasons, when Smallville stepped up to another level. Enterprise became just another solid player by netlet standards and ultimately ended after four seasons.

Networks:

Year ABC CBS NBC Fox UPN WB
2001-02 82 94 128 91 53 42
2002-03 87 90 114 109 42 49
2003-04 83 96 117 105 41 43

Amazingly, this was the weakest season in the A18-49+ era for both ABC and Fox (though Fox may finally break that record in 2014-15), and the third-weakest for CBS! I guess a network averaging a 128 with a three-hour primetime sucks a lot of the relative oxygen out of the room. Since NBC's collapse began in 2004-05, only one three-hour network has ever even broken a 110 (CBS in 2011-12), so we don't really have a modern frame of reference for NBC's domination in this year.

In the other four years of the UPN/WB battle chronicled by A18-49+, WB always emerged on top, which makes 2001-02's drastic shift in the other direction all the more striking. The biggest difference for UPN in this season was the Enterprise-led Wednesday. That show had a 79 this season and dropped like a rock to 47 the next season, and its failed rookie lead-outs followed suit. However, UPN had other nights in 2001-02 that would never be nearly as strong again, like Tuesday with Buffy the Vampire Slayer (61). And the WWE franchise on Thursday (59) was about 10 points ahead of its level in future seasons.

Days of the Week:

Year Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Sunday
2001-02 106 97 99 152 101
2002-03 113 102 107 151 99
2003-04 124 102 108 150 95

Time of Day:

Year 8:00 8:30 9:00 9:30 10:00 10:30
2001-02 93 95 107 105 103 105
2002-03 93 102 106 105 102 103
2003-04 92 101 106 105 105 105

Dramas, Sitcoms & Unscripted:

Year DramaSitcom Reality News
2001-021031199669
2002-039611512265
2003-04949814367

As noted in the 2002-03 post, the 2001-02 season was something of a "tweener" year in the middle of the reality TV boom, after the dominance of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? but before the rise of American Idol, The Bachelor and The Apprentice. Once-huge Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? finished out its run as a ratings non-factor, with regular runs on Monday at 8/7c before football (62) and on Thursday at 9/8c (53). And Temptation Island, a very strong newbie for Fox in 2000-01, was another Joe Millionaire-esque sophomore flameout for Fox, fizzling to just a 75 Plus in its 2001-02 run.

Repeats & Sports/Specials

Year Reruns Movies Sports Specials
2001-02 81 76 152 100
2002-03 75 64 133 86
2003-04 75 66 159 92

One of the most important revelations from all this A18-49+ stuff has been the decreased value of repeats over time. Adding two more previous years to the fold, they get even more valuable. We now know that the average repeat in the 2001-02 season was a whooping 81% of the average original. That number has been below 50% in recent seasons.

Though series repeats have gotten weaker, networks have to have a certain volume of filler, so they haven't drastically decreased in volume since the beginning of the era. What has drastically decreased is the volume of movies. In addition to CBS' regular Sunday 9/8c movie night (which lasted all the way to 2006), in 2001-02 and 2002-03 ABC was still airing The Wonderful World of Disney movies instead of original series from 7:00 to 9:00 on Sundays. Regularly-scheduled movies were also one of Fox's primary choices for surviving the Thursday gauntlet in these years. Movies took up 14% of the primetime real estate on the big four in 2001-02 and 13% in 2002-03; in seasons since 2011-12, that number has been just 2%.



A18-49+ Recaps
By Season:
By Theme:

28 comments:

Spot said...

New Girl is still valuable, FOX sells the W18-34 demo to its advertisers and the show gets above-average ratings in that demographic. They can still squeeze two more seasons of it, it has also a syndication deal already with TBS and MTV.


Mindy is a solid player in that demo despite low A18-49 ratings, FOX better surrender tuesdays again because, as Silvio said, they'll be the low priority comedies next season, put a newbie at 8 PM is something I agree.

Spot said...

Some interesting data here:


Both Leap of Faith and Inside Schwartz beat Rob and Coupling as the highest rated scripted newbie cancelations in plus, Friends was definitely a monster, especially during this 9/11 boosted season. Wikipedia says that the first ranked 12th in viewership (16.5 million average) during six midseason episodes and the second finished 16th and averaged a 9.8 household rating. NBC wasn't patient with poor retention. According to wikipedia too, Friends repeats that replaced them later in the season finished 8th in viewership (18.6 million average), as big as TBBT is today, this is better than most originals of the current #1 show on network TV. Probably helped a lot to that 81 average


Also, only three non-NBC renewals among solid shows, Baby Bob is the weirdest case of them, ran for six episodes, CBS renewed for another 13, produced eight and aired just five on summer 2003, the show was panned by critics.


The Flash (84 as of today) has a shot to be the biggest netlet hit in the plus era, can it keep its five-point lead against Enterprise. Also, Buffy lasted only two more years at UPN, but WB's decision of letting it go because they believe it had reached its peak was strange, as it remained a solid player for the other netlet.

Spot said...

Spot,
I have a specific request. In these first three years, we have 2 megahits (CSI and Friends) from genres that repeat well (Procedural and mulicam comedy), before the depreciation of the rerun, that also had huge lead ins (both original Friends and Survivors led into repeats during this time). What is the biggest PLUS Repeat of the era? Modern Families 198 for a Halloween 2011 repeat is the highest I know of. Please and thank you

Spot said...

Pretty much all of the top ones are Friends repeats that aired at 8:30 after originals. The top one is a 14.6 (337 Plus) on February 7, 2002. Its lead-in was a 14.5 for an original episode.

Spot said...

Amazing that even with Friends and Survivor there, the 8:00 hour was that weak.

By now it's difficult to remember that NBC was pretty strong on Wednesdays with The West Wing and Law & Order. That night was just overshadowed by Tuesdays and Thursdays. How strong was Ed leading off that night, though? Other than Deal or No Deal, Minute to Win It, and Whitney (!), it was the last show to spend 2+ seasons there (Hawaii, LAX, The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, 30 Rock/20 Good Years, Knight Rider, Deal of No Deal, Mercy, Undercovers, Minute to Win It, Up All Night/Free Agents, Are You There, Chelsea?, Animal Practice/Guys With Kids, Revolution). Even then, though, DOND and Minute came in at midseason at least once to patch the hole, and Whitney spent half of season 1 on Thursdays. If ABC had a cursed timeslot in Thursdays at 8:00, NBC clearly had one Wednesday at 8:00.

As usual, there's a slight caveat that CBS was still airing scripted originals on Saturdays now so that'll drag down its average somewhat. But it's not like the network was actively trying on most nights other than Mondays and Thursdays. They still had a movie night on Sundays and 60 Minutes II on Wednesdays. Though this is the season they started long-running relationships with Simon Baker (The Guardian) and Phil Keoghan (The Amazing Race). JAG/The Guardian/Judging Amy feels like a Tuesday line-up that would not be out of place now, nor on Sundays.

Yikes at ABC. No wonder they went through entertainment execs pretty quickly. I do think Alias was a show ahead of its time, and definitely ahead of ABC's smarter attitude now about scheduling serialized show. Much like Elementary, it got a really bad break as the Super Bowl lead-out (especially since it blew up the main premise and was a semi-reboot).

What's impressive about UPN beating The WB this season is that it happened without its signature show America's Next Top Model since it hadn't been created yet. A lot of it is wrapped up in Star Trek: Enterprise and Smackdown!, but Buffy moved over to the network pretty seamlessly. I still remember the Buffy/Gilmore Girls ratings war in the trends during this season; I think Gilmore Girls did win it, though. Or that happened in its third season...

Spot said...

WOW! The fact that repeats would grow from originals makes it even more impressive. TBBT repeats would usually only get 60-75% retention out of originals.

Spot said...

There's probably some formula where producing extra episodes tips into becoming unprofitable for the studio and/or the network.

Spot said...

Interesting idea. Comedy is the way to go on Thursdays for Fox since ABC and NBC are going drama, and CBS' brand is pretty much the opposite of Fox's. The one thing I don't like, though, is if CBS gets Thursday Night Football again 9-9 is going to have a hard time of it. Though it faces Sunday Night Football, the show gets a NFL overrun boost occasionally, is hammocked between two anchors, and typically deals with a weaker half-hour of SNF.

Spot said...

CBS would be much more likely to double-pump CSI to run out its order in time for Battle Creek to start than give it the post-AFC Championship Game slot.


Did I miss CBS' announcement of what show's getting the mini-Super Bowl lead-in? If no, the fact that Scorpion hasn't been announced is a little odd considering how invested they are in the drama. Could they zag with something like an NCIS spinoff or Madam Secretary? A big surprise like a comedy hour with an Odd Couple preview feels off the table; that would have been announced when they outlined the end of 2.5 Men's run last month.

Spot said...

You didn't, they haven't announced it yet, in 2011 and 2013 they announced it only in early january, one week before the game.

Spot said...

CBS aired Miami against The Oscars with a repeat lead in. And had its series finale air after a week off when they knew they'd have overrun. If they are getting rid of CSI, they may just air it against the Grammy's and Oscars

Spot said...

Yes, sir. Exactly my thoughts. It would be good counterprogramming.
But I've completely forgotten about TNF. Maybe not so great idea, then.

Plus, Oliver is right about gender skew not being ideal. Then again, male skewing lead-ins don't grow on trees. I mean, B99 would have same/similar problem on any not-Sunday night.

Plus, omabin is right about episode count not matching. They probably can produce only 2 x 8 = 16 episodes of MCJ, and B99 would have some other lead-in for 6 episodes. Then again, it's better to have reliable lead-in for 16 episodes, than to get rookie lead-in. Because that newbie can always turn out be new Utopia.

Spot said...

They can't air it against Grammys. Cuz it's on CBS. But I do get what you're saying.

Spot said...

That is insane. Wow

Spot said...

I absolutely agree that they would be willing to do it if needed, but I just don't see why that would be needed. In my proposed schedule above they still get rid of it without doing it, so why going there? They would just be trading repeats in Oscars' night for repeats in a regular night, seems weird to me.

By the way, isn't CBS broadcasting the Grammy's? They can't air it against it if that's the case.

Spot said...

The only thing I find a bit odd is that they will already have a crazy amount of Scorpion repeats on Monday in the new year since they've aired originals of it every single week for the fall except for one. So the show will have only 10 episodes to air in the new year, and that is assuming a 24 episode order. Take out one more to air on Sunday and that's 9 originals on Mondays 9pm only. It doesn't make a hell of a lot of difference but it's some odd scheduling there. Maybe they will do a supersized order of 26 episodes or something.

Spot said...

It's actually 14 I think. MCJ so far has only aired 7 episode seasons (the finale of the current season, airing tonight, is episode 7). My issue is not so much that something else would have to take over the slot but that it would entail a lot of rotation since I don't like the idea of MCJ airing two seasons back to back.

So it would probably have to be MCJ + Something else + MCJ. If they could manage to extend the seasons to 10 episodes or so it would be much easier since they could get away with programming it there for the whole fall by preempting it for the Whole Series. Then something would have to take over for the winter and then it could return for the Spring. That something else could be Idol for instance since during the winter it is supposed to air more hours a week.

So:
September/October: MCJ Season 4 + B99 + New Male Comedy
Early November: World Series
Late November/ Very Early December: MCJ Season 4 + B99 + New Male Comedy
January: Idol (two hours)
February/ Early March: Idol + B99 + New Male Comedy
Late March/April/May: MCJ Season 5 + B99 + New Male Comedy

Something like this, I didn't actually check out the dates.

Regarding gender, it's not ideal I agree but the solution is to swap this lineup to Wednesday and program Sleepy Hollow and a new drama on Thursday, which I like less because of NBC and ABC drama competition. A potential idea would be for a Sleepy Hollow (roughly 50% male skew) + B99 + New Comedy block, but it's hard to figure out where to place this due to competition dynamics.

Spot said...

Next cycle of MCJ has 8 episodes. That's why I said "max. 16 episodes", and added "probably". It's still kinda in flux, it seems.

Spot said...

I didn't know. Maybe they are trying to extend the seasons then, that would make sense.

Spot said...

The vast majority of them were somewhere in the 80-90% retention range. I think the key here was it was between Survivor seasons so there was virtually no competition.

Spot said...

Even with TNF B99 work for probably do OK on Thursday. It gets 1.5s against SNF now.

Spot said...

I don't think The WB wanted to let Buffy go or thought it had peaked. But they didn't want to pay an increased license fee to Fox and were willing to play hardball. Meanwhile, UPN was more than willing to pony up and offer a 2-season pickup to boot. That was a win for anyone for the show: the studio knew it was getting at least 2 more years and the creatives could plot out story not worrying about getting cancelled on a cliffhanger.


Considering what happened with Angel in season six (Joss Whedon asked for an early season 7 pick-up in February instead of waiting until May to learn, the network replied and said we'll just cancel you now), I think there had just been growing tension between Fox and The WB, and the shift to becoming more vertically integrated was on its way. Any non-WB produced scripted show pretty much had to overexcel to stay on the network (7th Heaven, Charmed, Reba).

Spot said...

This is where a procedural-esque reality show like Shark Tank, Undercover Boss, Kitchen Nightmares, or Hotel Hell would really come in handy. I always thought it was a waste that CBS would stick reruns between Survivor seasons instead of using Undercover Boss, but at least this year they are addressing that with The Mentalist.


But I'll also say that I think MLB may try to continue avoiding the NFL for future World Series. Fox shows are more likely to be preempted on Tuesdays and Wednesdays than Mondays, Thursdays (especially if CBS continues carrying TNF), and Sundays.

Spot said...

Good point about the world series not being on during Thursdays.

Spot said...

True. Though, Simpsons lead-in helps much on Sunday.

You're defending my schedule now, and I'm criticizing my own schedule. How we came there? Just kidding.

I meant, there's 3 obstacle (TNF competition + MCJ skewing female + MCJ having max 16 episodes), each of 3 is rather small problem, but all 3 combined together might not be so small.

Spot said...

Overall I think there are some good ideas on you schedule. Maybe swap MCJr with Hell's Kitchen since that skews more male than MCJR?

Besides this only has to work in the fall because in the Spring IDOL will take over the 8pm hour (if Fox continues to do IDOL I'm both Wednesday and Thursday 8pm).

Spot said...

If Scorpion has a 24 episode order, then it has 12 more left for the season. Considering how they've pretty much gone wall-to-wall with episodes for the Fall, it's not impossible that CBS squeezes an extra ep or two out of them since they are either very far ahead with production or are just very efficient. But either way, considering how this show was the network's big swing I would think they'd continue giving it all the best exposure possible.


If Scorpion runs out of episodes before the end of the season, perhaps Monday is where the last few episodes of Stalker end up once CSI: Cyber dislodges it from Wednesday (2 Broke Girls/Mike & Molly/NCIS: LA/Stalker). CBS is being so erratic with scheduling this season that I think this is within the realm of possibility.

Spot said...

That Once data point is a pretty suck one, so I am looking for the bright side of it. Here I go: Last year Once was also down on its midseason finale to a 1.9, which was -39% y2y! A heavily serialized drama down almost 40% for its midseason finale last year down only 11% this year. I hate it went down though because this is the data point people will speak of until March. It was an irregular night with a nothing lead in and its typical lead outs gone. I remember in season 1, Once was down to a then series low when the rest of the night was irregular programming.
.
Bingo done!

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