Monday, July 31, 2017

The War of 18-49, Ray Donovan

Dexter's Final Lead-out

At the height of TV's anti-hero drama craze, Showtime came on the scene with Liev Schrieber's drama Ray Donovan, and it had one of the best lead-ins it could ask for: the final season of long-running Showtime staple Dexter. On premiere night, Ray Donovan didn't look that impressive, with a 0.47 demo leading out of Dexter's 1.19. But Ray took a big step up to 0.59 in week two, and held somewhere in the 0.5's for most of the rest of the season, with much-improved retention out of Dexter. It stumbled a bit after its Labor Day hiatus, falling to 0.40 and 0.42 in its first two September episodes, but it had done enough to try to fill the void left by the departing Dexter.

Showtime's Summertime Anchor

Ray Donovan's most impressive season was undoubtedly the second, when it left the big Dexter lead-in behind and started leading off the Showtime original lineup, and still managed to grow in raw numbers relative to season one. That growth was far from a sure thing at the beginning, as it opened season two on a new low 0.37. But it inched up to 0.40 in week two, grew to 0.52 in week three and hung around 0.5 for awhile, and then hit some 0.6's and low 0.7's before its 0.74 season finale. It took a reasonable 15% season three drop, then a much steeper 30% one in season four, but it has always maintained that odd quality of growing after a soft premiere.

While Ray Donovan has done well for Showtime, it has not exactly been a launch-pad. That thrilling season two growth came alongside another Showtime sophomore, Masters of Sex, which started the season OK but tapered off a bit and looked much less impressive compared with the growth Donovan was pulling off. The Masters of Sex pairing returned in season three to even uglier results for Masters, and then bomb comedy Roadies became the 10:00 lead-out in season four. The network isn't really even trying with season five (starting this Sunday), which will mostly lead into the final run of low-rated veteran comedy Episodes. But the network can't be blamed for giving its higher-priority lead-outs to the stronger Shameless and Homeland. Ray Donovan's task is mostly to keep the lights on in a tougher part of the calendar.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

1Summer 2013Sunday 10:000.510.40.6detail
2Summer 2014Sunday 9:000.52+2%0.40.7detail
3Summer 20150.44-15%0.30.5detail
4Summer 20160.31-30%0.20.4detail
5Summer 20170.26-17%0.20.3detail

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

1Summer 20132419282325
2Summer 20142820392039
3Summer 20152619321927
4Summer 20162116251923
5Summer 20172116242021


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

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