Thursday, August 19, 2021

The War of 18-49, The Masked Singer

A Record-Setting Rookie Singing Show

While singing competitions have been dominant in primetime for the last two decades, even American Idol and The Voice were not megahit performers out of the gate; they both crossed that threshold in season two. But Fox's winter newbie The Masked Singer wasted no time, opening with a whooping 3.0 demo on January 2, 2019. That was well over double its lead-in from 24 Hours to Hell and Back.

The show took a somewhat sizable drop to 2.3 in week two, but it held in the low 2's for most of the rest of the season, then picked up momentum down the stretch with a 2.7 in the penultimate week and a 2.6/3.6 for the double-episode season finale. The season's Plus average of 272 was far bigger than any season of The Voice and barely 10% weaker than even the very strongest American Idol seasons.

On the Fall/Spring Schedule

Unlike American Idol, which always aired only one season per year, Fox was able to put The Masked Singer on the two-cycles-per-year plan long used with The Voice and Dancing with the Stars. In fall 2019, season two of The Masked Singer was still deep into megahit levels if not quite on the level of season one; it stayed just north of 2.0 for over a month and dipped into high-1's for the second half of the season.

Despite airing after the Super Bowl, season three looked like it was headed for another step down in raw numbers, but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and The Masked Singer got a sizable ratings bump during the lockdowns, breaking 2.0 through late March and most of April. The show kept going pretty strong the next fall, returning on Premiere Wednesday against a lot of filler competition due to pandemic-related production delays.

The first cracks in the mask might have finally appeared in season five in spring 2021; it started in the low-1's and stayed there, narrowly taking it out of megahit territory. A drop was inevitable considering how much it benefited in the previous spring season, but was this drop large enough to be worrisome? Its legacy as a high ratings achiever is absolutely secure, and it won't be a Joe Millionaire-esque flash in the pan. But the 2021-22 season will tell us a lot about the show's true longevity potential.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

1Winter 2019Wednesday 9:002.582.23.6detailA+
2Fall 2019Wednesday 8:
3Spring 20202.03-21%1.82.4detail
4Fall 20201.78-11%1.33.5detailB
5Spring 20211.21-40%1.11.4detailC
6Fall 20210.94-47%0.81.1detailC-
7Spring 20220.71-41%0.60.9detailD+
8Fall 20220.73-23%0.42.2detailD+
9Spring 20230.57-20%0.50.7detailB-

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

1Winter 2019272megahit1.16233376312376
2Fall 2019244megahit1.04194307307272
3Spring 2020248megahit1.06-9%215295248286
4Fall 2020275megahit1.17+13%202543243279
5Spring 2021188big hit0.80-24%164209203209
6Fall 2021185big hit0.79-33%165218218194
7Spring 2022139hit0.59-26%123171171139
8Fall 2022171big hit0.73-8%91516148155
9Spring 2023134hit0.57-4%113159148129

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

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