July 10, 2012

Broadcast Weekly & Season Averages: 4th of July Blues

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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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The broadcast networks combined for a lowly 4.53 combined 18-49 rating in prime time from July 2-8, 18% below the 42nd week last year (which also included the 4th of July holiday — on Monday).  This is a significantly bigger fall-off for the broadcasters than they have seen on average this summer to date (-10% from last summer so far) or this season to date (-5.7% comparing the entire season since premiere week in September).

Adult 18-49 Rating (4 Nets)
2011-12 2010-11 % Change This Year’s Dates Week #
This Week 4.53 5.53 -18% (Jul 2-8) 42
Summer to date 5.61 6.26 -10% (May 28-Jul 8) 37-42
Season to date 8.73 9.26 -5.7% (Sep 19-Jul 8) 1-42

FOX eked out a narrow victory this week, with originals of the Gordan Ramsay shows on Monday-Tuesday July 2-3 making up for the one-week vacation for So You Think You Can Dance.  FOX was the only network anywhere close to last year’s 4th of July week performance (down only 3%), and Fox is the only network whose overall summer pace is close to last summer’s (also down 3% from last summer).  FOX’s underlying schedule of Hell’s Kitchen (two nights), MasterChef (two nights) and SYTYCD is in solid shape.

However, the other networks were down 20+% each from the same week last year.  Summer to date, NBC has experienced the biggest decline (down 16% so far), falling almost down to FOX’s rating level, as America’s Got Talent declines.  Of course, the Summer Olympics in late July and early August will temporarily mask these cracks to the underlying schedule, but these numbers suggest next summer will be especially lean without the Olympics and with a weakening AGT anchoring the schedule.

Adult 18-49 Rating by Network
Current Week ABC CBS FOX NBC 4-Net
July 4-10, 2011 1.41 1.24 1.31 1.57 5.53
July 2-8, 2012 1.12 0.93 1.28 1.21 4.53
 % change -21% -26% -3% -23% -18%
Summer to Date
May 30-Jul 10, 2011 1.95 1.12 1.45 1.74 6.26
May 28-Jul 8, 2012 1.71 1.04 1.41 1.46 5.61
 % change -13% -7% -3% -16% -10%

ABC finished third for the week, down 21% from the same week last year.  ABC’s summer average is always deceptively high at this point because of two weeks of NBA Finals coverage.  In any case, the 13% decline from last summer to date has to be a concern as another weakening core schedule will be expected to face the Olympics.

Not much to say about CBS.  Always in fourth place in the summer before mid-July, when Big Brother gets the network into the game in the second half of summer.

About the Author

Mitch Metcalf
MITCH METCALF has been tracking every US film release of over 500 screens (over 2300 movies and counting) since the storied weekend of May 20, 1994, when Maverick and Beverly Hills Cop 3 inspired countless aficionados to devote their lives to the art of cinema. Prior to that, he studied Politics and Economics at Princeton in order to prepare for his dream of working in television. He has been Head of West Coast Research at ABC, then moved to NBC in 2000 and became Head of Scheduling for 11 years.