Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A18-49+: 2015-16 Season Recap

The A18-49+ season recaps combine all of a season's updates in the A18-49+ theme posts.

Defining Shows

After solid new classes in the last two seasons, the 2015-16 season featured few inspiring newbies from the broadcasters. The only two new series to qualify as "hits" were CBS' Life in Pieces (137) and Blindspot (125), which both had a lot of help from huge lead-ins (The Big Bang Theory and The Voice, respectively). There were some solid successes, but nothing could really be put in the breakout category.

Several of those solid successes came on NBC, where Blindspot was joined by Chicago Med (117), Superstore (102) and Shades of Blue (85). Though The Voice (led by a series-high 214 for its fall Monday season) still did most of the heavy lifting for the network, the depth in the scripted arena was clearly increasing. In an extremely tight four-way race, NBC actually eked out the highest average for original non-sports series on the big four networks, its first time taking that crown since the final season of Friends in 2003-04.

The collective struggle with new series allowed Fox to make a bit of a comeback in 2015-16, despite some crumbling foundations. Last year's giga-hit newbie Empire returned to a monstrous 6.7 demo/460 Plus and, despite a lot of erosion across the season, it still hung on to the same 303 Plus as in season one with six additional hours aired. The network also had a very successful "final" season of American Idol, with a 166 for its brief Wednesday run and 149 for the longer Thursday edition. And a highly successful revival of The X-Files (217 counting its post-NFL premiere) led into surprisingly respectable newbie Lucifer (101) on Mondays at midseason.

The deep CBS roster still finished a close second behind NBC, despite a modest new class. The Big Bang Theory (256) and NCIS (152) kept rolling, and Life in Pieces was at least barely passable as a TBBT lead-out. But attempts to branch out beyond the traditional CBS audience were short-lived; the network actually kicked Supergirl (115), which might have been its strongest new series, over to the CW, and also axed the new drama Limitless (93).

And ABC had the roughest season among the big four, with not a single new series breaking the league average. The highest-profile newbie was The Muppets (88), which got the axe after huge post-premiere rejection. The only new series to squeak through were shows that did marginal ratings in tough slots, like Sunday drama Quantico (85) and Friday comedy Dr. Ken (76). The network had some nice growth stories, like The Bachelor (162) on Monday and series high Pluses for the lead-off comedy hour of The Middle (129) and The Goldbergs (140) on Wednesday. But it was not enough to overcome a bad new class and a lot of slippage across the drama department.

For more resources on the 2015-16 season in A18-49+, see these updates:
The New Shows in 2015-16
The League Average Decline in 2015-16
The Network Race in 2015-16
Originals vs. Repeats, Comedies vs. Dramas in 2015-16
Ratings by Day of Week and Time of Day in 2015-16
The Breakdown (a look at each timeslot across the season) Index for 2015-16

For additional yearly/theme recaps and more on A18-49+, check out the A18-49+ Index.

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