Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The War of 18-49, Scorpion

The Center of a Monday Drama Movement

In fall 2014, How I Met Your Mother was gone, Two and a Half Men was on the way out, and CBS made what seemed like a radical call to start phasing out its very long-running comedy presence on Monday nights. The first cog in that plan was the light-hearted procedural Scorpion, which took over the 9/8c hour. On premiere night, Scorpion had a respectable 13.90 million viewers and 3.2 demo rating, leading out of a 5.4 from the second half of a one-hour The Big Bang Theory premiere. But what Scorpion did in week two was even more impressive: it managed to hang onto a 3.1 even with a repeat Big Bang lead-in (3.1).

As great as that week two was, it was also fairly misleading; Scorpion fell to a 2.6 the next week and kept drifting down to a 2.0ish level in the last month of the fall. But it pretty much held there, and a little better early in the winter, for the rest of the season, only falling to a 1.9 once in November and once in April. Joining up with a third Monday drama (Supergirl) the next season, Scorpion took another step down into the high-1's throughout most of season two. But it was still a well above league average show, posting a better Plus average than the 9/8c comedies in the year before it premiered. And, in fact, it was well ahead of the comedies CBS has put there in the two years after Scorpion left.

Fast Declines at 10/9c

But in fall 2016, it was back to a full two-hour comedy block for CBS Monday, and that left Scorpion downgraded to the 10/9c hour. It took a big decline in its move to 10/9c in season three, but most of it could be explained by how tough that hour is; with a 98 Plus in season three (mostly low-1's ratings), it was still one of the strongest 10/9c dramas on television. It almost always matched or beat its 9:30 lead-ins, and some of those lead-ins (especially 2 Broke Girls) were pretty good.

Scorpion had much worse lead-ins as things got more dire for the comedy night in 2017-18, but another drop of basically the same size in season four (with ratings hovering around 0.8 for most of the season) is tougher to excuse. It seems pretty clear at this point that NCIS: Los Angeles got the better end of CBS' drama downsizing on Monday, holding up great in 2016-17 with indirect NFL lead-ins on Sunday. Maybe it's not about timeslots and this would've happened either way. But with no syndication deal and fast-fading ratings, the story of Scorpion come to an abrupt and premature end in 2018.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

12014-15Monday 9:002.301.93.2detail
32016-17Monday 10:001.20-33%1.01.5detailC+

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:



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

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