Friday, July 15, 2016

The War of 18-49, The Americans

Front-loaded Early Seasons

FX's new spy drama The Americans opened on 1/30/2013 with 3.22 million viewers and a 1.24 demo rating. This was a rather solid number by FX standards at the time, about on par with a typical episode of the just-wrapped American Horror Story season, whose timeslot The Americans was inheriting. But it was quickly clear that level was not sustainable for The Americans; it fell nearly a third to a 0.85 in week two, then nearly a quarter more to 0.66 in week three. It hung in the general vicinity of 0.6 for most of the rest of season one.

That front-loaded trajectory became the norm for The Americans in the next two seasons, perhaps suggesting the show had huge promotional pushes. Season two opened on a 0.68 but took big drops the next two weeks, ultimately settling around 0.4. And season three made it all the way back up to 0.63 for the premiere, just barely below the season two premiere, but had a massive collapse to 0.35 the next week and was below 0.30 for the majority of episodes. These were pretty discouraging ratings, but FX kept bringing it back.

Steadier in Season Four

Season four was the first time that the critically-beloved drama was able to slow its bleeding to a reasonable level. After opening on what seemed like an awful 0.28, it really bucked the Americans trend by growing to 0.29 in week two. It hung in the low 0.2's to low 0.3's range for the entire season and actually never got down to the 0.19 low point from season three. Overall, it was a relatively steady season for the same-day ratings (by cable standards), even as The Americans remains one of the very biggest DVR percentage gainers on TV.

Near the end of season four, The Americans was renewed for two final seasons. The window has probably passed for this show to become a Breaking Bad-esque grower, but season four at least offered some hope that it can avoid becoming a bigger liability in the same-day ratings. The declines sped back up with a move to Tuesday in season five.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

12013Wednesday 10:000.690.41.2detail
2Spring 20140.44-36%0.30.7detail
3Winter 20150.31-29%0.20.6detail
4Spring 20160.26-18%0.20.3detail
5Spring 2017Tuesday 10:000.19-27%0.10.3detailC
6Spring 2018Wednesday 10:000.16-15%0.10.2detail

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

2Spring 20142417.44363624
3Winter 20151911.30373720
4Spring 20161814.42221914
5Spring 2017159.80232016
6Spring 20181511.87201320


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

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