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Fox Takes Total-Viewer Crown in Strike-Blasted Season

May 25, 2008  •  Post A Comment

The tombstone on the 2007-08 television season, which officially ended last week, perhaps should be carved in the shape of an asterisk.
A writers strike planted directly in the center of the season cast a pall on prime-time ratings. Networks scrambled to fill programming time during February, when their reserves of fresh episodes ran dry. Once scripted shows did return, numbers failed to rebound to their pre-strike averages.
For the season, Fox was the ratings winner among total viewers for the first time. It was one of only two networks to increase average ratings among 18- to 49-year-old viewers, winning that category for the fourth year in a row. “American Idol” and the Super Bowl helped Fox boost ratings 2% over last season in 18-49. Fox ended the season with a 4.2/11 average.
ABC and CBS tied for second with a 3.0/8, down 14% and 19%, respectively, year-to-year. NBC dipped 10% to a 2.8/8, while The CW fell 15% to a 1.1/3. MyNetworkTV posted a gain of 33% to a 0.8/1.
One exception to the malaise the networks suffered due to the strike came in the form of CBS’ comedies.
Three of CBS’ four Monday comedies “Two and a Half Men,” “Rules of Engagement” and “How I Met Your Mother” posted improvements from pre- to post-strike ratings averages. “Men” increased 6% and “Rules” rebounded by 2%.
Most surprisingly, “Mother,” perhaps bolstered by the buzz about Britney Spears’ pair of cameos, bounced 19% between the two halves of the season. For a show that reportedly was at risk for non-renewal, the program increased 15% in the 18- to 34-year-old demographic that advertisers covet. That rivaled “CSI” and “Two and a Half Men” as the top-rated show on the network in that demo for the second half of the season.
“The Big Bang Theory” was the Monday comedy exception for CBS, falling 14% from pre-strike to post-strike average ratings.
Other networks’ comedies struggled, with NBC’s “My Name Is Earl’s” off 12% in the ratings and “Scrubs” (which is moving to ABC) dropping 6%. Fox’s animation block also fell considerably, with “Family Guy” declining 16.3% and “The Simpsons” down 27.2%.
Comparing pre-strike and post-strike averages, dramas took the largest hit, as viewers couldn’t easily enter back into a serialized show. The top-rated drama on the dial, Fox’s “House,” dipped 23% in 18-49 ratings averages in live same-day numbers. ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” fell 19% and CBS’ “CSI” dropped 15% between the beginning and end of the season.
It wasn’t all bad news on the drama side, as some series stuck close to their previous averages. CBS’ “CSI: Miami” fell just 2%, while The CW’s “Gossip Girl,” helped by a massive promotional campaign, held fast at its pre-strike average. “Gossip” even moved the needle up ever so slightly, 6%, or one-tenth of a ratings point, in the 18-34 demo.
Corrected: Ratings stat in third graf (5/25 10:20 p.m.).

One Comment

  1. I just love the way you mention that How I Met Your Mother was up in the ratings after the strike, and The Big Bang Theory was down without mentioning the most important factor. THE TWO SHOWS SWITCHED TIME SLOTS. Of course, HIMYM was up when it was in the much higher rated 8:30 time slot, and The Big Bang Theory was naturally going to go down after it was moved to the lower rated 8:00. I mean, you could at least mention the reason for the differences.

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