Monday, August 7, 2017

The War of 18-49, Silicon Valley

Three Years With Game of Thrones

Armed with one of TV's biggest draws for young male viewers in Game of Thrones, HBO decided to try to launch a more male-skewing comedy with Mike Judge's Silicon Valley. With a lead-in that big, retention is going to look bad, and it definitely did for Silicon; it opened with a 1.08 demo rating on 4/6/14 while Game of Thrones opened its season at 3.61. The retention got worse from there, as Silicon headed south of 1.0 for the rest of the season.

It's all relative with these things, and in that sense Silicon Valley appeared to make real progress in season two. It posted a season of 7% raw numbers growth, while Thrones was down by 4% in 2016.  That meant it went from 26% of Thrones' average in 2015 to 29% in 2016, but even that small level of improvement was impressive given Thrones' own resiliency. However, season three saw Silicon drop by 7% while Thrones was up by 9%, and its average retention actually fell below the 25% mark.

Without Game of Thrones

Perhaps due to Thrones' delayed start in 2017, that was the end of the pairing between Game of Thrones and Silicon Valley, and set up season four as an interesting test of how much lead-ins really matter on HBO. Silicon Valley was instead paired with The Leftovers for most of season four, a show that didn't do that badly yet still had less than 10% of Game's 2016 demo audience! Not surprisingly, Silicon Valley took a major hit; after never dropping below 0.80 in three seasons after Thrones, Silicon Valley never went higher than 0.47 in season four, and its full average was down by over half year-to-year.

But what was left was still a pretty acceptable demo rating by cable standards, and it outrated its Leftovers lead-in every week they were together. Even without Thrones, it remained one of the youngest and very most male-skewing shows on television. (67% of its 18-49 audience in season four was male, an even higher percentage than the NFL!) So life after Game of Thrones will continue.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

1Spring 2014Sunday 10:000.950.81.1detail
2Spring 20151.01+7%0.81.3detail
3Spring 20160.94-7%0.91.1detail
4Spring 20170.41-57%0.30.5detail
5Spring 20180.33-18%0.20.5detail

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

1Spring 20145043575750
2Spring 20156050757568
3Spring 20166560727172
4Spring 20173326383635
5Spring 20183022422828


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

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