Monday, July 17, 2017

The War of 18-49, Vikings

The Bible's Sidekick

In March 2013, Mark Burnett's event series The Bible became one of the biggest stories of the ratings season, opening with a 3.27 demo and never falling below 2.5 in its five-week run. But in the 10:00 slot after The Bible was over, a quieter but longer-lasting story was brewing in the lead-out drama Vikings. It opened with a 1.97 on Bible's premiere night, took a bit hit to 1.31 in week two, but then bounced back to 1.52 and stayed in the low ones on the last two Bible nights. But it didn't get a chance to really shine until The Bible was off the air; it dropped into 1.15 in the first week, but made an impressive rally to 1.25 -> 1.40 -> 1.31 for the final three weeks.

The next two years saw a little air come out of the Vikings balloon, with a 21% drop in season two and another 28% down in season three. However, those aren't huge drops relative to the plight of basic cable as a whole, and Vikings was able to stay pretty high on the list of cable dramas.

Season Four Resiliency

In season four, split into two chunks across 2016 and 2017, Vikings started to show signs of improvement relative to the field. It was down just 17% in the first half of season four, the lowest year-to-year drop in series history, and the second half of the season (premiering over ten months after the first half) went just 3% more below that.

This has been a rough age for basic cable, and many a channel is getting out of the scripted game entirely. History seems like the kind of network that might consider that, but Vikings is stemming the tide for now. It doesn't hurt that it launched another decent performer in its winter 2017 run, the naval drama Six. Though it isn't on a Vikings level at present, its hold in the second half of the season (without Vikings) was reminiscent of how well Vikings held up after losing The Bible.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

1Spring 2013Sunday 10:001.411.22.0detail
2Spring 2014Thursday 10:001.12-21%0.91.3detail
3Winter Spring 20150.81-28%0.71.0detail
4Winter Spring 20160.67-17%0.60.8detail
2016-17Wednesday 9:000.65-3%0.50.7

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

1Spring 20136755939362
2Spring 20145949717159
3Winter Spring 20154840585856
4Winter Spring 20164640565648


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

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