Thursday, September 9, 2021

The War of 18-49, SEAL Team


The Heir to Criminal Minds' Timeslot

After five straight years of Plus declines for Criminal Minds, CBS was finally ready to try something new in the Wednesday 9/8c hour that Minds had occupied for more than a decade. On Premiere Wednesday in fall 2018, new military drama SEAL Team offered some hope that it could compete; it averaged a 1.52 demo, down 18% from the previous season's Criminal Minds premiere (1.85). But the gap between the two quickly widened, as SEAL Team fell to a 1.2 the next two weeks, very low 1 for the rest of the fall, and mostly south of 1.0 after the new year. Even with big Survivor lead-ins, it was down double digits in Plus from Criminal Minds even at its low-end levels from the previous season. While it seemed pretty borderline at these levels, CBS kept the faith and left it in the 9/8c hour going forward.

It never got any better in the next three seasons. Season two began at 0.8 and pretty much stayed there through the winter, then had a bunch of 0.6's in a spring run at 10/9c after The Amazing Race. It was back to 9/8c for almost all of season three for a mix of 0.6's and 0.7's, then usually hovered around 0.5 in season four (when its usual Survivor lead-in was on the bench due to COVID).

SEAL Team will return for season five, but only air briefly on the linear network before moving to Paramount+. In the end, its CBS legacy will be that the network took a major step down in the last two hours of Wednesday night under its watch, while NBC has been ascendant with its tri-Chicago night. Were the Chicago series always going to make it impossible for anything to succeed, or could CBS have kept NBC in check if they had tried harder? We may get an answer eventually, but middling reality series Tough As Nails will be first to take over the 9/8c hour in 2021-22.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

SeasYearSlotAvgy2yLoHiResultsGrade
12017-18Wednesday 9:001.010.81.5detailC
22018-19Wed 9:00, Wed 10:000.75-26%0.61.0detailC-
32019-20Wednesday 9:000.66-12%0.50.8detailB-
42020-210.48-27%0.40.6detailC

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

SeasYearA18-49+LabelNow21y2yLoHiPremiereFinale
12017-1892marginal0.607213913984
22018-1979marginal0.51-14%591038465
32019-2081marginal0.52+2%59999070
42020-2175marginal0.48-7%65937874

AVERAGE:82marginal
CAREER:327utility


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

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