Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The War of 18-49, Madam Secretary

A Companion for The Good Wife

CBS' The Good Wife had not set the ratings on fire in its move to Sunday during the 2011-12 season. But the network clearly liked whatever it was getting out of the show, enough to give another Sunday hour over to a show in the same vein. Madam Secretary took over the Sunday 8/7c slot long occupied by The Amazing Race, and even compared with the low-end later Race seasons it was clearly a downgrade; that show had averaged a 2.0 in fall 2013, while Madam Secretary premiered to a 2.0, got mid-1's most nights and some high-1's on some NFL nights.

In the spring, the difference was even starker; Madam fell into the low-1's (including two 1.0's to the end the season), while the Race got high-1's the previous season. But whatever had kept The Good Wife going for so many years rubbed off on Madam Secretary, as well; the show returned to the 8/7c slot for season two and produced very similar results Plus-wise throughout the season.

Sliding Later and Later

Madam Secretary survived again into season three, but its days in the primo 8/7c slot were over. It moved to 9/8c, where it barely broke 1.0 for most of the fall and was almost completely fractional after the new year. Plus-wise, this was pretty similar numbers to the last couple seasons of The Good Wife. Season four brought another move an hour later and another significant drop in the ratings. The good news is that in this slot, Madam Secretary was actually a consistent improvement on what Elementary had done there a season ago.

So while Madam Secretary has been low-rated throughout its life and kept alive for other reasons, at least it's finally found its way to the slot where it can do little or even no damage. The network never pulled the trigger on a The Good Wife move to Sunday 10/9c (maybe because they also had Elementary to deal with), and that held them back from getting competitive ratings on the night. Putting Madam at 10/9c and 'trying' in the other two hours feels like a more satisfying balance.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

12014-15Sunday 8:001.441.02.0detail
32016-17Sunday 9:000.87-27%0.71.1detailC
42017-18Sunday 10:000.62-29%0.50.8detailB-
6Fall 20190.41-26%0.30.5detailC

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

6Fall 201950flop0.41-15%39665456


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

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