Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The War of 18-49, Suits

A Solid USA Rookie Becomes Elite In Season Two

Suits came around on the tail end of that roughly five-year period when USA was churning out new drama launches with mid-1 ratings like clockwork. Its lead-in Burn Notice opened the summer 2011 run with 5.167 million viewers and a 1.7 demo, and Suits held onto almost all of it with 4.636 million and a 1.6. Both shows plummeted the next week, to a respective 1.3/1.2, but they bounced back a bit from there and remained in a very close ratings lock-step. Suits even built from Burn Notice on a couple occasions, perhaps most impressively on 7/28/11 when it had a 1.5 to Burn's 1.4. Suits' first season fell pretty much in the middle of a tightly-packed upper tier of USA dramas, slightly behind Royal Pains (1.46) and Burn Notice (1.38) and just ahead of Necessary Roughness (1.23), Covert Affairs (1.23) and White Collar (1.22).

In season two, Suits started with a modest 1.1 demo but grew the next two weeks and only dropped as low as 1.1 once more the whole summer. It seemed to have some real heat at season's end; its 1.4 and 1.5 to wrap up the summer were both two tenths ahead of their respective Burn Notice lead-ins. This strong hold put the show's average just a hundredth behind Burn Notice. And it stacked up way ahead of the other USA dramas, pretty much all of which began taking huge same-day declines in 2012. (The next-highest USA dramas behind the Thursday duo were Royal Pains and White Collar at around 1.0.)

Big Drops, But Not As Big As Its Peers

Beyond season two, Suits hasn't really been able to transcend the general downward trend of the other programming on its network. It shed roughly 20% each of the next two summers, and more than that for the regular season runs. That kept it in about the same relative position in 2013, again narrowly behind Burn Notice in its final season and with about the same-sized lead over Royal Pains (-21%) and Covert Affairs (-20%).

It was dropping just 23% in 2014 that saw the show make another pronounced move compared to the other USA dramas, as Royal Pains and Graceland were both down over a third and Covert Affairs almost half. With Burn Notice gone, that put Suits almost 50% ahead of the next-biggest USA drama. Pains is down about a third again in the opening weeks of this summer, so Suits (returning tonight, June 24) seems poised to reign over the other USA dramas once again unless a newbie breaks out. It's more a question of by how much; can it manage the declines well enough to remain an elite show by general cable standards?

Adults 18-49 info by season:

1Summer 2011Thursday 10:001.321.101.60detail
2Summer 20121.24-6%1.101.50detail
Winter 20131.051.001.20
3Summer 2013Tuesday 10:001.01-19%0.901.20detail
2014Thursday 9:000.73-30%0.700.80
4Summer 2014Wednesday 9:000.78-23%0.700.90detail
Winter 2015Wednesday 10:000.52-29%0.450.56
5Summer 2015Wednesday 9:000.61-22%0.550.68detail
Winter 2016Wednesday 10:000.50-3%0.460.54

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

1Summer 20115243636343
2Summer 20125247634763
Winter 20135047575747
3Summer 20134843575247
4Summer 20144137483742
Winter 20153127333333
5Summer 20153633403637
Winter 20163432373736


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

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