Friday, September 3, 2021

The War of 18-49, S.W.A.T.

Improving the Thursday 10/9c Hour

In the same season that CBS launched its current comedy anchor Young Sheldon, they also launched a new drama in the 10/9c hour on the same night. And while it wasn't as flashy as Sheldon in the ratings, S.W.A.T. opened with a 1.1 (down just a tenth from its Life in Pieces lead-in) and stayed in the ones for much of the fall/early winter. That made for a marked improvement on the failed newbies from the year before (Pure Genius and Training Day), and it was also stronger than the last couple years of Elementary in the hour.

In season two, the show looked kind of alarming in the fall (premiering at a mere 0.7) but it perked up significantly with a series of 0.9's in the winter, and ended up down just a few points from season one in Plus. Considering it had significantly worse lead-ins for most of the season (including one-and-done comedy newbies Murphy Brown and Fam), it was valuable enough to keep around.

Struggles against One Chicago on Wednesday

But it was sent off to Wednesday, where it would be paired with middling SEAL Team and asked to compete with NBC's fast-growing Chicago trio. It was at a borderline 0.5-0.6 for most of the season, which didn't look that bad compared with its weak fall 2018, but the y2y numbers got a lot worse beyond that point. In the end, it took a 15% Plus decline to a very borderline level, but the DVR numbers were strong and CBS once again punted on throwing anything of consequence at the Chicago series. So they stuck with the SEAL Team and S.W.A.T. pairing for another year. The results in 2020-21 were down a little bit more in Plus, with S.W.A.T. hitting 0.4's for most of the season.

The Friday/Sunday Surge

In season five, it appeared CBS was finally done with this show as priority weeknight programming, as S.W.A.T. headed for the Friday 8/7c hour in the fall before a planned exile to the dreaded Sunday 10/9c hour. But S.W.A.T. defied expectations, growing in raw numbers and outrating most of the MacGyver seasons in the Friday 8/7c hour. Despite that huge fall, CBS went forward with the Sunday 10/9c plan, and S.W.A.T. pulled off another miracle there by outrating last season's NCIS: New Orleans. So it will be that rare show to actually escape the Sunday 10/9c exile, getting another crack at Friday in 2021-22.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

12017-18Thursday 10:000.950.81.1detailB
32019-20Wednesday 10:000.57-27%0.50.7detailC+
52021-22Fri 8:00, Sun 10:000.45+8%0.30.5detailA
62022-23Friday 8:000.41-9%0.30.5detailB+

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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