Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The War of 18-49, American Ninja Warrior

Testing the Waters with a Cable Sleeper

Many a hit show has begun its run with relatively small ratings. But it's hard to find humbler beginnings than those of American Ninja Warrior, which began its run on the tiny cable channel G4. Its official first dose of NBC exposure was a one-off special in summer 2011, when it averaged a 1.7 on August 22.

That was good enough to get it a regular run on NBC, and in fact many of the season four episodes had America's Got Talent lead-ins. It opened with a 2.4 in its first episode after Got Talent on May 21, 2012, and hovered around 2.0 for most of the rest of that season. In 2013, it was given Monday lead-off duties. Though the ratings dipped in that season, they were still good enough to make it a very valuable self-starter.

One interesting note is that those first two NBC seasons were actually a sharing of original episodes between NBC and G4. Even late in season five, with two years of NBC exposure, it was still only managing a 0.1 rating in most G4 originals, which just goes to show how far off the reservation NBC plucked this show from. As far as I can tell, the sharing between NBC and G4 (now named Esquire) ended after season five, though Esquire still airs repeats as well as an original spin-off.

The Explosion

In the last two years, this show has gone from quirky experiment to one of the bonafide summer elite, and one of the fastest growth stories on broadcast TV. It was up 11% in its 2014 run, and in the second half it cracked 2.0 for the first time in almost two years. It pulled off the twos several more times throughout summer 2015, with season seven up another 8% overall. It got almost all the way back to the raw numbers of its first NBC season in 2012!

This summer, Warrior will preview on Wednesday for a couple weeks before returning to its usual Monday perch.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

4Summer 2012Monday 9:001.991.42.4detail
5Summer 2013Monday 8:001.62-19%1.41.8detail
6Summer 2014Monday 9:001.80+11%1.62.0detail
7Summer 2015Monday 8:001.95+8%1.72.1detail

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

4Summer 201284solid(sum)1.235910210285
5Summer 201377solid(sum)1.12-9%66858171
6Summer 201496hit(sum)1.39+24%8510685101
7Summer 2015116big hit(sum)1.68+21%101125107125

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

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