Demo Denies a Crop of Debuts

Jan 16, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Despite heavy promotion that included extensive billboard and outdoor ads in markets such as New York and Los Angeles, ABC’s debuting Monday night comedy “Emily’s Reasons Why Not” failed to generate much enthusiasm with viewers in the adults 18 to 49 demographic.

At 9 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 9, “Emily’s” scored a 2.8 in the adults 18 to 49 demo, according to Nielsen Media Research. The rating reflects Nielsen’s incorporation of its digital video recorder data, which account for live and same-day DVR viewing. In addition to being down 36 percent in adults 18 to 49 from its “Wife Swap” lead-in, ABC’s new sitcom was down 22 percent from the year-ago midseason debut of “The Bachelorette.”

“Emily’s” was more competitive in women 18 to 34 (3.3) and 18 to 49 (3.7). Still, the show’s debut was disappointing, said Brad Adgate, senior VP and corporate research director for Horizon Media.

“It’s not up against ’24’ yet,” Mr. Adgate said. “It had an opportunity to attract viewers for the premiere, and it didn’t happen.”

A two-hour special premiere of Fox’s “24” was scheduled to run Sunday, Jan. 15, followed by another two hours of the series today. The show settles into its 9 p.m. Monday time slot Jan. 23. At 9:30 p.m. the sophomore season premiere of ABC’s “Jake in Progress” scored a 2.5 in the demo, outperforming all of its Thursday night showings last season. But “Jake” ranked fourth in the time period and was down 11 percent from its lead-in, “Emily’s.”

ABC’s current midseason Monday ratings challenge is nothing new, said Lisa Quan, VP and associate director of broadcast research for Magna Global, noting that the network “has always had problems finding something to come on after football.”

The season premiere of the reality franchise “The Bachelor: Paris” came in third in at 10 p.m. in the demo and was down 27 percent from its September 2004 premiere.

Pre-Emptive Moves

ABC planned to pre-empt today’s “Emily’s” and “Jake” episodes for a re-edited version of the premiere episode of “Bachelor.” The move would protects both sitcoms from NBC’s telecast of the Golden Globes ceremony and the season premiere of Fox’s “24.”

Last week also marked the special two-hour premiere of UPN’s drama “South Beach” on Wednesday. “Beach” scored a 0.9 in the demo, the lowest-rated network program of the night. “Beach” was down 47 percent from the seasonal time period average of 1.7 for “America’s Next Top Model” and “Veronica Mars.”

While “Beach” faced stiff competition, including a “Lost” clip show at 8 p.m. on ABC followed by an original episode of “Lost,” the low performance may indicate something systemic, Mr. Adgate said.

“It’s kind of like the opposite of The WB, where they are having problems finding comedies,” he said. “For whatever reason, comedies work, the network has success with ‘Top Model,’ but dramas don’t seem to be working as well on UPN.”

The first regularly scheduled episode of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser: Special Edition” at 9 p.m. Wednesday faced the double threat of “Lost” and an original episode of CBS’s “Criminal Minds.” “Loser” dropped 25 percent in the demo to a 2.7 from its two-hour premiere the previous week, but grew in the second half-hour and still outperformed former time slot occupant “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart’s” season average by 8 percent.

The premiere of The WB’s second installment of “Beauty & The Geek” on Thursday bucked the returning series downward trend for the week, garnering a series high 2.3 in its adults 18 to 49 preliminary national rating. That also improved the network’s season-to-date time-period average in the demo by 77 percent. With CBS in repeats, NBC was the winner for the night in the demo, scoring its best Thursday for the season, with newcomer “Four Kings” building over its debut the week before and “The Office” hitting a series high of 5.1. ABC’s 90-minute “Dancing With the Stars” was down slightly to a 4.5 in the demo from its second installment premiere last week, but grew 26 percent from its first half-hour to its last. “Dancing” lead-out “Scrubs” premiered with a 3.6 in adults 18 to 49, up 89 percent over the canceled “Night Stalker” in the time period. The only disappointment Thursday was Fox’s 8 p.m. block of “That ’70s Show,” which scored a 2.4 in the demo, down from its Wednesday average and below “The OC’s” average in the time period.

While last week gave initial impressions of how new series will fare for the season, drawing any conclusions is premature, said Shari Ann Brill, VP and director of programming for Carat.

“I can’t look at this week in isolation,” Ms. Brill said, “because [this] week we have the return of ’24’ and ‘American Idol.'”