Only a Handful of Shows Are Defying This Season’s Ratings Skid — and Most of Them Have One Thing in Common

May 2, 2013  •  Post A Comment

With a brutal season for broadcast ratings winding down, analysts are examining the results to try to find meaning — and at least one analysis came up with an interesting trend.

TheWrap.com reports that while newer shows have generally failed to gain a foothold, older shows, from NBC’s "Sunday Night Football" to ABC’s "The Bachelor," are among the season’s few bright spots.

“TheWrap looked at the top 30 shows on broadcast television as of last week, and found that only seven of them have gained in the key 18-49 demographic since last season,” the publication reports. “Six of the seven debuted in 2007 or earlier. The other is CBS’s sophomore ‘Person of Interest.’"

Only two of the season’s roughly three dozen new shows, the report notes, have made it into the top 30 — NBC’s "Revolution" and Fox’s "The Following.”

“The lack of new hits makes the networks’ job harder as they try to promote their new slates to advertisers at the upfront presentations just half a month away,” the piece reports. “They have to make the case that their new shows will thrive — despite the shortage of hits among the shows they unveiled this time last year. The absence of sparkly newcomers also makes the networks more reliant on their rising veterans.”

By network, TheWrap breaks down these seven shows that have posted gains:

NBC: "’Sunday Night Football’ and its pre-kickoff show, which debuted in 2006, are both up slightly.”

ABC: "’The Bachelor,’ which debuted in 2002, had the biggest gain over last season — 13%. ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ is also up, but made much smaller gains. It debuted in 2005.”

CBS: "’Big Bang Theory,’ which premiered in 2007, is up 11%. The ‘Big Bang’ gain makes it the top-rated scripted show on broadcast television. ‘NCIS,’ which debuted in 2003, and last year’s ‘Person of Interest’ are also up somewhat.

Fox, ABC and NBC have all seen declines in total viewers and the key 18-49 demo, the piece notes, while CBS is flat in 18-49 and up slightly in total viewers.

“The ‘Big Bang’ gain comes at the expense of its Thursday rival, ‘American Idol.’” the report notes. “The Fox singing competition, TV’s top show for eight years, is down 21% on Thursday nights and 25% on Wednesdays.”

CBS continues in its perennial leadership position in total viewers, but this year — in part because of the declines for Fox’s “Idol” — CBS has also moved ahead of Fox into the No. 1 spot in the demo.

“The networks’ overall slide comes as cable and online shows are making big gains. AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’ is now the top-rated drama of the season, and may beat out ‘Big Bang’ as the top-rated scripted show overall,” TheWrap reports. “Meanwhile, Netflix is making inroads with the drama ‘House of Cards’ and the horror series ‘Hemlock Grove,’ both of which viewers can watch anytime online. New episodes of ‘Arrested Development’ are due at the end of May.”

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