Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The War of 18-49, The Last Man on Earth

A Spring Sunday Surprise

The Sunday after the Oscars is always the night when the Sunday landscape becomes safe for the entertainment programs to come out and play, and that usually makes it a night full of premieres. ABC often trots out a drama, as they did to huge success in 2014 with Resurrection, but in 2015 it was Fox that stole the show. The weird premise that was The Last Man on Earth had a stellar start in the 9/8c hour, averaging a 2.4 rating and totally upstaging ABC's Secrets and Lies premiere (1.5).

Last Man took a hit in week two (1.9) and three (1.6), managed a couple more high-1 weeks (1.9 -> 1.7) and then fell to low-1's throughout the second half of the season. But it was still retaining close to 90% of its lead-in, a major coup for a concept that many thought would totally bomb out.

Three More Middling Years

The Last Man on Earth exhibited some more of that strong retention in the fall of season two, but any hope for a sophomore bounce with fall NFL help was derailed by a weirdly weaker Family Guy at 9/8c. And by the spring, Last Man went fractional several times and was four tenths behind its lead-in on a few occasions.

Beyond that, things didn't really change that much for The Last Man on Earth (or Family Guy, for that matter). It was a consistently mediocre retainer in seasons three and four. In season three, that was enough for a renewal, because the network had so little scripted depth. But season four (which looks a bit better than it really was because it had two big episodes on NFL playoff nights) saw a stronger Fox, and also one that was looking to change its comedy direction of the eve of the Disney deal. It's definitely debatable whether the network needed to can Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and LA to Vegas, and The Mick, but Last Man seemed to have fallen a step even behind those shows.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

1Spring 2015Sunday 9:301.641.22.4detail

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

1Spring 201597marginal1.077114314383


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

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