Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The War of 18-49, Bull

Michael Weatherly Follows His Former Show

Coming into fall 2016, CBS tentpole NCIS had led directly into one of its spin-offs for seven straight seasons (five of Los Angeles and two of New Orleans). The streak came to an end in 2016-17, but Bull was about as close to a spin-off as CBS could get, as it had the well-known NCIS star Michael Weatherly. And Bull fit in with NCIS about as well as the spin-offs had; it had a lower Plus, but that was largely because NCIS itself was past its peak by this point. On premiere night, Bull (2.2) actually matched NCIS (2.2), but it dropped to 1.9 and 1.6 the next two weeks and was at least a couple tenths behind NCIS going forward. In the fall, Bull usually hit mid-1's leading out of a high-1's NCIS; by the spring, it was more like low-1's after mid-1's.

 Both shows dipped some the next season, but Bull had a much better trajectory in season two; it started with a 1.3 (down 43% from the previous premiere) and stayed in the low-1's the whole way, never going fractional as an NCIS lead-out. By the spring, Bull was often very close to even in raw numbers year-to-year.

The Monday/Thursday Moves

After two seasons, it was Bull's turn to give up the cushy post-NCIS timeslot, and its destination was Monday at 10/9c to replace the cancelled Scorpion. Like the NCIS spin-offs before it, it took a major hit in the ratings with this move, but it was still a fine performer for a CBS 10/9c drama. It's also never had a lot of help in the 10/9c hour; in season three, it mostly hit 0.8's and 0.9's following the middling newbie Magnum P.I., and collapsed to 0.6 in the spring after bomb The Code.

In season four, it joined another legal drama, albeit a pretty shaky one, in All Rise. Bull matched and sometimes beat its lead-in, posting a pretty steady diet of 0.6's and 0.7's and perking up to 0.7's in the spring thanks to the COVID-19 viewing inflation. It returned to the Monday slot (once again after All Rise) for season five, but after a year of decline it was shipped off to the Thursday 10/9c hour in 2021-22, where it took another decline and ended after six seasons.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

12016-17Tuesday 9:001.421.12.2detailB
32018-19Monday 10:000.75-37%0.60.9detailC
62021-22Thursday 10:000.34-27%0.20.4detailC

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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