Monday, July 18, 2016

The War of 18-49, Bates Motel

An A&E Breakthrough

The horror series Bates Motel represented a new direction for A&E's scripted department, which had previously been known for generic procedurals like The Glades and Longmire. It also represented a positive direction, opening on 3/18/2013 with 3.04 million viewers and a 1.26 demo rating. And it held that rating incredibly well throughout season one, never dropping below a 1.0 and mostly hovering around 1.2. For comparison, Glades and Longmire never hit a single 1.0 in their 2013 seasons, and were usually well shy of that mark (especially Glades).

Season two opened with a promise to return to those same steady raw numbers, as the 1.26 season premiere on 3/3/14 exactly matched the series premiere. But this time, Bates couldn't sustain it nearly as well; it fell to a 0.91 in week two and pretty much stayed around there the rest of the way. The season as a whole was down 22% year-to-year, a trend that has continued almost uniformly into the third and fourth seasons. In a world of rapidly declining cable ratings, it's probably not much farther down the totem pole than it was in season one, but it's certainly not growing either.

Starting with season two, A&E has tried using it as a lead-in to little success; 2014's Those Who Kill was infamously pulled after just two episodes, The Returned had just over 50% retention in 2015, and seemingly compatible horror series Damien barely retained a third of the Bates audience in 2016. It'll have just one more opportunity, as season five of Bates Motel has been announced as the last.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

1Spring 2013Monday 10:
2Spring 2014Monday 9:000.94-21%0.71.3detail
3Spring 20150.73-22%0.60.9detail
4Spring 20160.55-24%0.50.7detail
5Winter Spring 2017Monday 10:000.44-20%0.40.5detailB-

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

1Spring 20135748626056
2Spring 20145038676748
3Spring 20154434555534
4Spring 20163834454536
5Winter Spring 20173633424238


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

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