March 3, 2014

NIELSENWAR: ABC Enjoys Its Week In the Sun


Thanks mostly to last night’s ACADEMY AWARDS, ABC enjoyed one of its very few weekly wins of the season.  The network was at 3.34 last week, up a huge 2.23 from the week before, while NBC was at 1.79 (down a massive 2.44 with the end of the Olympics), CBS averaged 1.69 (up 0.55 with most of its regular schedule back on the air post-Olympics), FOX was at 1.29 (down 0.46 due to a much lower-rated Tuesday and Sunday), and CW at 0.57 (up 0.28, again because it shifted out of reruns after the Olympics).

We’re late enough into the season that even such large shifts as last week’s have limited impact on the season to date.  Here are those numbers:

NBC:  2.69 (down 0.04 from last week, but up 20% from last year because of the Olympics)

FOX:  2.37 (down 0.05 from last week, but up 9% from last year because of the Super Bowl)

CBS:  1.93 (down 0.01 from last week, and down 26% from last year’s Super Bowl season)

ABC:  1.65 (up 0.07 from last week but down 12% from last season)

CW:  0.53 (even with last week, down 5% from last year)

ABC should cherish the glow from last week while it lasts, because the rest of the week’s news was bad.  Both MIND GAMES and MIXOLOGY died in their series debuts, leaving Sunday’s back-from-the-dead-but-not-zombies drama THE RESURRECTED as the network’s sole scheduled original scripted series yet to air this season… and The Resurrected, with its undead premise, is airing directly against The Walking Dead.  (I know, the tones of the two shows are different–but still.)   A moribund Resurrected could give Revenge its final shove into the grave.  That means the only “successes” of the network’s development would be AGENTS OF SHIELD and THE GOLDBERGS, both of which have substantially underperformed original hopes.

Even worse, Tuesdays will likely suffer with The Voice back against Agents of SHIELD, and although the new NBC sitcoms are unlikely to be strong, they may still maul The Goldbergs and especially TROPHY WIFE.  Plus THE MIDDLE and MODERN FAMILY are at lows, the once-promising SUBURGATORY has lost its way, ONCE UPON A TIME IN WONDERLAND is playing out the string, and even the original ONCE UPON A TIME has to rebuild with a new storyline after shedding viewers through most of the fall.  The only major hits on the entire ABC schedule are the Thursday Shonda Rhimes doubleheader, and even there things could be better, since Kerry Washington’s pregnancy forced SCANDAL into a truncated spring run.  (SHARK TANK is also a hit, but in the smaller venue of Fridays.)

ABC is going to have some tough decisions to make in a few weeks.  Does it bring back low-rated shows like NASHVILLE, LAST MAN STANDING and Revenge because they’re relatively stable?  How many hours of sub-2 ratings can it sustain each week?  On the other hand, how many new shows can it effectively add in the fall?  What does it do if the new cycle of DANCING WITH THE STARS collapses even lower than it’s been?  Rhimes has a new high-profile pilot on the way (starring Viola Davis), but will that show be Scandal or Off the Map?  It’s unlikely to get any easier.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."