The Numbers

Jul 5, 2009

The Numbers

Somebody Call 911: The Networks Flatline Over Holiday Weekend

How bad are things for the broadcast networks this summer? So bad, apparently, that entire groups of viewers have decided to abandon the networks completely.

In what will likely be the low-water mark for the Big Four this summer, CBS and NBC both generated demographic hash marks during the 8 p.m. hour on Saturday. That means the networks averaged a 0 rating and a 0 share in at least one demo group, according to preliminary Nielsen fast national data.

Not surprisingly, the sliver of the viewing audience that literally didn't register with Nielsen on the July 4th holiday: Teenagers, aged 12-17.

For NBC, the show that snagged a goose egg was the long-ago cancelled drama "Kings." During the 8-8:30 p.m. half hour, it earned a 0.0/0 among men 12-17 and all adults 12-17. (Teen girls were a bit more enthusiastic, giving the show a 0.1/1).

Over at CBS, "48 Hours Mystery" was the program cursed with no teens from 8-8:30 p.m. It also notched (or is that failed to notch?) a big 0.0/0 with all viewers 12-17 and women 12-17. (Teen boys handed "48" a 0.1/1).

Both shows also scored goose eggs for the full 8 p.m. hour, with "Kings" zeroing out among men 12-17 and "48" doing a swan dive with women 12-17.

There are plenty of caveats that go with these numbers, of course.

It was a national holiday in the middle of the summer, and it fell on the weakest night for networks (Saturdays). The only demographic to register a zero rating was teenagers, a group not particularly coveted by most advertisers. And dozens of cable networks no doubt flatlined as well.

Still, the Saturday numbers do underscore just how rough things have been for broadcasters this summer. Adults 18-49 ratings below a 0.5 have become common for many shows in many time slots.

Indeed, for anyone who thinks it's stretching things a bit to draw conclusions from holiday ratings among teenagers, consider this: NBC's "Kings" drew only a 0.2/1 among the key demographic of adults 18-49. That's not hash marks, but it's pretty darn close.

What's more troubling for the networks: The ratings misery comes during a summer in which many networks are offering up a healthy dose of first-run scripted programming. Some of it is burn-off theater, but some shows have been given big promotional pushes ("Mental," "The Philanthropist").

Viewers, however, just aren't into what the broadcasters are serving up this summer.

You can bet planning meetings are already underway at several networks to figure out just what can be done to avoid this mess next summer.

Meanwhile, here's something up beat and peppy for those network types depressed by the numbers:


Continue reading Somebody Call 911: The Networks Flatline Over Holiday Weekend

  • POSTED 8:15 PM
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Jun 27, 2009

The Numbers

Friday Ratings: 'Virtuality' Tanks, Jackson Specials Dominate as Networks Struggle to Find Viewers


Fox's big budget "Virtuality" will likely remain an unsold pilot after a disastrously low-rated Friday broadcast.

The two-hour movie/backdoor pilot, from one of the creators of "Battlestar Galactica," flatlined Friday with a 0.5 rating/2 share among adults 18-49. Of even more concern: The broadcast kicked off with a 0.7 at 8 p.m and fell to a 0.4 by its final half-hour, indicating those many of those few viewers who decided to check out "Virtuality" weren't impressed with what they saw (or decided to watch the rest later via DVR).

Overall viewership for "Virtuality" wasn't any better: About 1.8 million die-hard fans watched.

"Virtuality" flopped on a night where nothing much worked and all the networks struggled to find a pulse.

CBS, for example, failed to rise to a 1.0 demo rating in any hour Friday night-- punishment, perhaps, for not rushing on another Michael Jackson or Farrah Fawcett special.

Of course, ABC and NBC didn't exactly draw record crowds with their E!-like programming.

And yet, NBC won Friday night with a 1.4/5 by repeating "Farrah's Story" (1.1/5) from 8-10 p.m. and airing a new Jackson-themed "Dateline" (2.0/7) at 10 p.m. The latter hour was, by far, the top-rated show of the night in the demo.

Indeed, NBC's Jackson edition of "Dateline" doubled the young adult rating of ABC's Jackson edition of "20/20," which averaged a 1.0/4 from 10-11 p.m.


Continue reading Friday Ratings: 'Virtuality' Tanks, Jackson Specials Dominate as Networks Struggle to Find Viewers

  • POSTED 9:58 AM
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Jun 24, 2009

The Numbers

Read This Item Because It Mentions Susan Boyle


"America's Got Talent" didn't get a Susan Boyle bump-- but it still dominated the ratings in its Tuesday premiere.

"Talent" averaged a 3.2 rating/10 share and 11.3 million viewers, according to prelim national Nielsen numbers. That's the lowest "Talent" premiere yet, and down about 10 percent in the demo from last summer, when "Talent" faced much tougher NBA Finals competition. 

There had been speculation inside NBC that the media phenom known as Susan Boyle from "Britain's Got Talent" might help drive tune-in for the Stateside version of the "Talent" franchise. Didn't happen.

But given how pathetically most network shows have been faring this summer, anything with a 3 in front of its rating can rightly be considered the supersmash hit of the summer, the show everyone can't stop talking about. (Yes, I wrote that for the NBC promo department). 

"AGT" also rose above a lousy lead-in, one of the final episodes of "I'm A Celebrity... Where the Hell Did Speidi Go"? That series notched a 1.4/5 at 8, its worst ratings yet. It even lost viewers at the half-hour (yikes).

Over at ABC, meanwhile, the launch of "The Superstars" (1.6/5) was a non-event, but not a disaster. 

At 9:30, viewers decided to reward ABC for sticking by well-crafted, funny half-hour comedies by fleeing the return of "Better Off Ted" en masse. That show lost half of its lead-in and averaged a mere 0.8/2. 

That'll teach you, ABC! Maybe it's not to late to bring back "According to Jim."

Finally, in the 10 p.m. battle of the (non)-newsmags, murder beat teen sex, as a repeat of CBS's "48 Hours Mystery"  (1.5/4) outrated an original ABC "Primetime" (1.2/3).

Continue reading Read This Item Because It Mentions Susan Boyle

  • POSTED 9:41 AM
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Jun 4, 2009

The Numbers

Ratings: Obama Can't Match 'Dance'; Speidi Sinks


President Obama is no match for Mary Murphy and "So You Think You Can Dance."

Part two of Brian Williams' primetime exclusive with the president came in a distant second Wednesday night behind Fox's "Dance" juggernaut. According to Nielsen, the second hour of "Dance" scored an impressive 3.7/11 among adults 18-49, waltzing away with the night and soundly trouncing NBC's Obama special, which earned a 2.3/7 from 9-10 p.m.

The race was tighter among overall viewers: "Dance" averaged 9.3 million in the 9 o'clock hour, while BriWi and Obama notched 8.9 million. While President Obama may have swept to office in part because of the youth vote, said young ones apparently prefer the hot tamale train of "Dance" to a behind-the-scenes White House chat.

NBC also got some disappointing news in the 8 p.m. hour, as "I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!" fell to third place in its third outing.

"IAC-GMOOH!" managed a 1.8/6 from 8-9 p.m. Wednesday, despite plenty of alleged "drama" over the fate of contestants Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt. The reality series couldn't compete with two much more established hits: "Dance" and ABC's "Wipeout."

The first hour of Fox's "Dance" earned a 3.0/10 to win the early hour, while ABC's "Wipeout" (2.9/9) was just a hair behind.

In other ratings news, ABC's "Goode Family" scored badde ratings in its second week. The 9 p.m. episode averaged a 1.2/4, while the 9:30 installment generated a meager 0.9/3. Latter episode brought in barely 2 million viewers.

Don't be shocked if ABC pulls the show (or at least cuts it back to one half-hour) as early as today.

UPDATE: NBC notes that the Obama-Williams special gave the network its best demo numbers in the 9 p.m. Wednesday slot since December. The network is also planning to repeat the full two-hour special this Friday, adding in "bonus" footage (read: More time with Bo the Dog). 


Continue reading Ratings: Obama Can't Match 'Dance'; Speidi Sinks

Jun 3, 2009

The Numbers

Syndie Sweeps Ratings: CTD Cleans Up

The May sweeps number for syndication are out, and CBS TV Distribution has notched eight of the top 10 spots among first run shows. The whole list is a golden oldies collection, however: No new shows made it into the top rungs.

More ratings tidbits from the sweeps throughout the day, but here's the top 10 list, courtesy of Nielsen (and the CTD press department):

1. Wheel of Fortune, 6.4 (CBS Television Distribution) 
2. Jeopardy!, 5.4 (CBS Television Distribution)
3. Oprah Winfrey Show,  5.2 (CBS Television Distribution)
4. Entertainment Tonight, 4.2 (CBS Television Distribution)
5. Judge Judy, 4.1 (CBS Television Distribution)
6. Dr. Phil, 3.0 (CBS Television Distribution) 
t. Inside Edition, 3.0 (CBS Television Distribution)
8. Wheel of Fortune – Weekend, 2.7 (CBS Television Distribution) 
9. Live With Regis and Kelly, 2.6 (Disney ABC Domestic Television)
10. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, 2.3 (Disney ABC Domestic Television)

Source: Nielsen Media Research, April 23, 2009-May 26, 2009, Live Plus Same Day US HH AA%

Continue reading Syndie Sweeps Ratings: CTD Cleans Up

May 16, 2009

The Numbers

Farrah Fawcett Special Wins the Night

"Farrah Fawcett: My Story" drew a big audience on NBC-- at least by Friday night standards.

The two-hour special, which mixed home video footage and interviews with Fawcett as she fights cancer, averaged a 2.4/8 in adults 18-49 and just under 9 million viewers from 9-11 p.m. Friday. That's according to preliminary national data from Nielsen.

"My Story" grew every half hour, and drew particularly big numbers among women 25-54 (4.6/13).

Continue reading Farrah Fawcett Special Wins the Night

May 13, 2009

The Numbers

Ratings Flash: Expanding 'Loser' Pays Off

Megasizing its reality shows has turned out to be a pretty good idea for NBC.

Sunday's three-hour swan song for "The Apprentice" helped the network stay very competitive on a tough night. And now, "The Biggest Loser" has wrapped its seventh cycle with some stunning stats.

Sergio Ibarra will have more details soon over in Ratings Chart Attack!, but Tuesday's amply-proportioned "Loser" exit notched a 4.7/12 over the course of its three-hours, according to prelim fast national data from Nielsen. That was enough to let NBC come within spitting distance of Fox for the night, which averaged a 6.1/16 with its combo of "American Idol" and "Fringe."

Continue reading Ratings Flash: Expanding 'Loser' Pays Off

May 12, 2009

The Numbers

Gossip Girl

Ratings: 'Gossip' Spinoff Pops, 'Deal' Flops

Complete ratings coming later this morning from Sergio Ibarra, but a couple of quick flashes:

—The CW's "Gossip Girl" spinoff pilot delivered a nice little Nielsen pop. While the show matched last week's numbers among adults 18-34, it was up nearly 10 percent week-to-week among adults 18-49. That could be a sign the project's concept—retro, 80s-based "Gossip"—appeals to slightly older viewers than the CW core. Given the CW's need to expand a bit beyond its core of really young women, the numbers should give ammo to those inside the network arguing for a pickup.

—"Deal or No Deal" may be dead as an in-season player on NBC. The gameshow sank to a 1.0/3 this week, down double digit's from last week's already embarrassing return numbers. I don't see how NBC avoids pulling "Deal" from its lineup, immediately. It could still bring back episodes in the summer.

Continue reading Ratings: 'Gossip' Spinoff Pops, 'Deal' Flops

  • POSTED 8:42 AM
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May 7, 2009

The Numbers

Why ABC's 'Castle' Just Got Renewed

The good folks at Nielsen, apparently in a generous mood, have decided to share some ratings data with the rest of the world this morning by releasing numbers for Monday night's primetime shows.


My colleague Sergio Ibarra will have a more detailed report later, but Monday's figures provide some clues to the fates of several shows:

—ABC's "Castle" popped big time, jumping to a 2.8/7 behind an average episode of "Dancing with the Stars." The series had been averaging just about a 2 rating in the demo. ABC executives were already leaning toward a renewal for the Nathan Fillion crime caper; assuming Nielsen doesn't change its mind and confess to some big mistake, "Castle" fans can start looking forward to season two.

Continue reading Why ABC's 'Castle' Just Got Renewed

  • POSTED 9:29 AM
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Apr 28, 2009

The Numbers

'Chuck' vs. Nielsen

Fellow TVWeek blogger Sergio Ibarra will have a full report later, but given TV MoJoe's commitment to maximum/borderline obsessive coverage of all things "Chuck," here's an update on how the show's season finale did in the ratings.

Not bad. Not awesome. But not bad.

According to preliminary Nielsen data, Monday's episode averaged a 2.3/6 in adults 18-49. That's the same as last week's episode, which matched a two-month high for the show. If recent patterns hold up, "Chuck" will inch up to a 2.4 when final Nielsen numbers are calculated this afternoon.

While it would be nice to think that all the Twitter and blog hype for "Chuck" would directly translate into ratings, few people at NBC or producer Warner Bros. were expecting a big bump. As last Thursday's opening night of sweeps meltdown showed, viewers clearly are finding other things to do than watch live TV this spring. In some ways, holding flat is the new up.

Continue reading 'Chuck' vs. Nielsen

  • POSTED 9:17 AM
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