‘Kid Nation’ Debut Spurs Analysis

Sep 23, 2007  •  Post A Comment

CBS’ controversial “Kid Nation” continued to make headlines even after its premiere Sept. 19, as media outlets scrutinized the show’s advertising, quality and ratings.
“Nation” debuted Wednesday to a 3.1 rating among adults 18 to 49. The number is solid for a CBS reality show premiering in the 8 p.m. time period and was good enough to win the hour.
Some ratings analysts, however, found the figure disappointing, considering the Herculean efforts the network took to publicize “Nation” and the pre-air media coverage the show received.
“I thought they might be a little higher,” said Brad Adgate, senior VP of research with Horizon Media.
Since CBS declined to send out a copy of the show to the media before the debut, the premiere also sent critics rushing to file reviews.
The overnight takes were mixed to positive, with the Los Angeles Times calling “Nation” “adorable” and MSNBC saying the kids “were real and rather entertaining.” But the Boston Globe said the show is “as much fun as baby-sitting overtired tots who’ve had one too many Sweet Tarts.”
CBS quickly scheduled a Saturday encore of the show in hopes that positive word of mouth could result in non-premiere viewers giving the show a chance.
Industry insiders zeroed in the show’s lack of advertising. “Nation” contained only six minutes of commercials instead of the usual 16, with the first ad running 38 minutes into the program. The reality series had been threatened with advertiser boycotts due to accusations of child exploitation.
Advertising Age counted only three breaks, which had commercials for films from Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox; Sears; Chattem’s Icy Hot pain reliever; Combe’s Vagisil; Capital One; and L’Oreal’s Maybelline cosmetics.
“An extended run of programming at top of a new show is a strategy we’ve used on previous reality shows such as ‘Survivor,'” said CBS representative Shannon Jacobs. “There was less inventory than usual due to the length of the episode. Next week we have a full commercial load.”
While the network has run a longer-than-usual program with a lighter-than-normal commercial load in the past, the network has not had an extended opening that lasted 38 minutes, according to another CBS rep.


  1. I didn’t watch, but I had read all the hand-wringing criticism (the usual what-kind-of-parent-sends-their-kid-to-such-a-place stuff, without calculating the same-kind-of-parent-who-ships-their-progeny-to-an-expensive-boarding-school factor). Anyway, while watching something else on the bedroom TV, I heard loud shouts of joy and enthusiasm in the main TV room from my two otherwise-jaded nine-year-old twin boys and their what-kind-of-parent-watches-this-stuff-with-her-kids mother, when the first episode was repeated Saturday night on CBS. Judging from their wildly positive reaction (n=3), I think kids love the show and some mothers do, too. “Can we go next season?” was the big question my boys kept asking. Maybe the nanny groups who find the show so despicable will strive valiantly to make sure there isn’t a next season.

  2. is the fact that c_HAL_ifornia talking??

  3. Great post?-.plz enable me i also wish to submit here?-.

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