Sunday, November 3, 2013

Ratings Roundup - ABC Gets Off the Fence and the World Series Bump

I love television ratings.  I love what they tell us about individual shows, the networks, and the industry in general.  My intention with this weekly article is to take a look at the week in ratings and prognosticate about their future and the health of each network.   Ratings presented here are the Adults 18-49 rating, which represents the percentage of adults between 18 and 49 watching a particular program. 

Every Friday afternoon I sit down to think about what I want to write in this piece and every Friday afternoon I get desperate because there hasn’t been any news to discuss.  Then, late in the day, the good and bad news starts flowing in and I breathe a sigh of relief.  This week it took until 8:15 Friday for any reports to come out, but that’s when ABC finally climbed off the fence with respect to its comedies and finally made some hard decisions. 

"Trophy Wife" is great and earned a back-nine pickup, which is also great.

As the network with the only real news this week, ABC gets the lead spot.  Some of it was expected, as The Goldbergs earns a full-season pickup.  Some was a surprise, with the low-rated but more critically-enjoyed Trophy Wife earning a back nine order over the higher-rated Back in the Game and Super Fun Night. 

What is really interesting for ABC is where the network takes its comedy lineup from here.  Back in the Game has been effectively canceled, though it will air its remaining episodes.  It seems exceedingly likely that Suburgatory will take over that spot sometime in January or February.  Super Fun Night merited an order of only four additional episodes (compared to the Tuesday comedies’ nine) which makes me think that at some point this spring either The Goldbergs or Trophy Wife will move to that post-Modern Family timeslot, which will make a much more compatible pairing than Super Fun Night does now.  The other option for ABC would be to leave both shows on Tuesday and put a new comedy on after Modern Family, but they’ve tried that each of the last three seasons and haven’t found a good match yet.

Decisions like these are when I would really like to be a fly on the wall of network executives, because the cancelation of Back in the Game is slightly baffling to me.  The show had stabilized at a level at or above either of the Tuesday comedies and it actually beat them both in each of the last three weeks despite SHIELD providing a substantially better lead-in than The Middle.  One interesting suggestion is that ad rates for Back in the Game were surprisingly low this fall, owing in part to its focus on the lower class and single motherhood.  There’s an entire book to be written about the treatment of class on television, but if Back in the Game was canceled because people don’t want to see poor people on television, that’s really a shame.

There’s one last caveat to note about ABC’s ratings.  The network is down this week almost nine percent year-to-year (compared to 3.5 percent last week), but that’s merely an aberration due to the Country Music Awards airing a week later this year.  ABC will bounce back next week.

The 2013 World Series brought good news to Boston and to Fox
What a difference a week with two World Series games makes.  Last week Fox was down almost five percent, year-to-date.  After a six-game series (as opposed to last year’s four-game series), Fox is down less than one percent from last year and, more importantly, up to second place for the season.  The Major League Baseball playoffs may not be the ratings juggernaut that the NFL is, but it’s pretty obvious why Fox continues to devote two weeks per year to them.  Even the Saturday World Series game, by far the lowest-rated, was the highest-rated Fox show of the season outside of Sleepy Hollow’s first few episodes. 

This is going to be a make or break week for Fox.  All of their shows return with new episodes for the first time in several weeks.  The network really needs to build some momentum during sweeps.  They still have Idol, the NFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl to look forward to, but with the spring lull in their future, Fox can’t afford to have its shows bottoming out in November too.

"Dracula" had a good start for NBC
The ride was fun while it lasted.  For most of the year, NBC has managed to keep its head above water, running at or above last year’s numbers.  For the first time in the 2013-14 season, NBC is putting up negative numbers year-over-year.  Part of me wants to call it an anomaly because the network aired three hours worth of repeats this past week, compared with two hours in the comparable week last year.  But one of those repeat hours this past week was SNL’s Halloween special, which brought in better ratings than the comedies that aired before it. 

We finally got a look at NBC’s Friday lineup last week, with both returning Grimm and new show Dracula debuting to 1.8 ratings.  Grimm is a virtual lock for renewal, since it will be only one season away from syndication after this year.  Dracula still has a ways to go to earn renewal (and struggled a bit in its most recent episode – more on that next week), but this was definitely a good start.

This coming Thursday is going to be a big test for NBC since it will be the first time that The Voice airs a new episode outside of Monday and Tuesday.  The Parks and Recreation replacements thus far have been a mixed bag, with a Voice repeat pulling equal ratings and an SNL special drawing about 30 percent better.  As I’ve noted before, NBC’s comedies have been dreadful this year, and it could really use a good week at some point.

Never doubt the power of "The Big Bang Theory"
A repeat of The Big Bang Theory was the fourth-most watched show of the week on CBS.  It was also the single highest rated sitcom on all of television (though Modern Family was also in repeats).  I don’t what it is about that show, but it appears to be everybody’s favorite backup.  When nothing else is on, people gravitate to The Big Bang Theory.  Even its second repeat on Thursday night (airing in place of Two and a Half Men) was tied with The Millers for the second-highest rated show of the night for CBS.

I don’t know that there’s a great deal more to say about CBS this week, so I’ll use this space to offer a warning for the next few weeks.  We’re getting into sweeps and the winter months, so networks will increasingly be airing specials and repeats over the next three months.  In other words, don’t be surprised if a show makes a big jump or drop from week-to-week simply because it’s facing different competition.  For example, this year the Country Music Awards are airing this coming Wednesday.  Last year the Awards drew a 3.8 rating, so it’s likely that other programming that night will have lower ratings.  It’s not a guarantee, necessarily, but a possibility.

Season to Date Network Rating Averages (Adults 18-49) –
NBC – 2.74 (Down 0.3% YTD, Down 0.2% Week-to-Week, Down 12.7% from Premiere Week)
Fox – 2.15 (Down 2.4% YTD, Up 8.8% Week-to-Week, Down 2.1% from Premiere Week)
CBS – 2.10 (Down 8.3% YTD, Down 2.7% Week-to-Week, Down 29.0% from Premiere Week)
ABC – 1.98 (Down 8.7% YTD, Down 3.3% Week-to-Week, Down 25.8% from Premiere Week)

New Renewals, Pickups, and Cancelations –
The Goldbergs – Full-Season Pickup
Trophy Wife – Full-Season Pickup
Super Fun Night – Four Episodes Ordered
Back in the Game – Canceled

So thoughts?  Comments?  Just want to tell me my blog sucks?  Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @TyTalksTV.

No comments:

Post a Comment