Friday, October 23, 2020

The War of 18-49, MacGyver

A Friday Splash

Friday night usually doesn't produce one of the biggest surprises of the fall premiere week, but in 2016 it delivered. CBS' reboot of MacGyver exploded out of the gate with a 1.7 demo / 137 Plus, which was the biggest Plus for a Friday night scripted episode since all the way back when Law and Order: SVU was on the night in the early aughts. (For the record, Mac's achievement was upstaged a couple years later by several episodes of Last Man Standing.) Mac did not sustain that level, dropping to 1.3 and 1.1 the next two weeks, but it pretty much held up from there. This was as strong as anything CBS had in this timeslot in the A18-49+ era, even above the peak seasons of Ghost Whisperer.

Finding a Level

MacGyver opened season two with just a 0.8, down by half from the previous season's premiere, and it pretty much held close to that all season long. That left the show at a noticeably lower Plus than in season one, more along the lines of a lot of previous historical occupants of the timeslot (from Ghost Whisperer to Undercover Boss to The Amazing Race). And it was basically even in Plus for season three, mostly hanging around 0.7 with the occasional 0.8 or 0.6.

In 2019-20, CBS decided to add sophomore Magnum P.I. to the Friday rotation. Despite its strength, MacGyver was still the relative weak link in a potent lineup that included Hawaii Five-0 and Blue Bloods, so it got held for midseason and didn't have its season four premiere till February 2020. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the numbers; the show looked solid in the winter, opening the year with three 0.7's, and then it swung up to a couple 0.8's at the height of the COVID-19 viewing inflations. The 13-episode season didn't quite get back up to the season one Plus levels, but it was noticeably above seasons two and three. And, since Hawaii Five-0 ended in the spring of 2020, MacGyver will be back on the Friday first string (and continuing at 8/7c) going forward.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

12016-17Friday 8:
4Spring 20200.67-5%0.60.8detailB+
5Winter 2020-210.51-24%0.40.6detailB-

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

4Spring 202081hit(Fri)0.52+11%68988176
5Winter 2020-2178hit(Fri)0.51-4%68917870


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

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