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.
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!
In 2016, Warrior previewed on Wednesday for a couple weeks before returning to its usual Monday perch, and also had a late-summer interruption for the Olympics. The show's rapid ascent slowed dramatically in this season, but it was still down less than the league average, and entrenched itself as one of the summer elite.
Adults 18-49 info by season:
|4||Summer 2012||Monday 9:00||1.99||1.4||2.4||detail|
|5||Summer 2013||Monday 8:00||1.62||-19%||1.4||1.8||detail|
|6||Summer 2014||Monday 9:00||1.80||+11%||1.6||2.0||detail|
|7||Summer 2015||Monday 8:00||1.95||+8%||1.7||2.1||detail|
|8||Summer 2016||Monday 8:00||1.76||-9%||1.6||2.0||detail||B|
Historical-adjusted ratings by season:
|7||Summer 2015||116||big hit(sum)||1.68||+21%||101||125||107||125|
|8||Summer 2016||121||big hit(sum)||1.76||+5%||110||137||117||117|
The War of 18-49 chronicles the ratings history of veteran primetime series. For more, see the Index.