March 10, 2014

NIELSENWAR: Meanwhile, on Cable…


ABC had a very good hour on Sunday with its successful launch of Resurrection, but that still couldn’t compare to an entire night of Oscar coverage the previous week, so the network was down by more than 50% this time around.  Here are the weekly network averages (5 days of Live + Same Day finals, 2 days of overnights):  CBS led with 1.8 (up 0.11 from last week), followed by NBC with 1.75 (down 0.04), ABC at 1.65 (down 1.69), FOX at 1.4 (up 0.11) and CW at 0.59 (up 0.02).

The season to date averages:

NBC:  2.65 (down 0.04 from last week, but thanks to the Olympics up 21% from last year)

FOX:  2.33 (down 0.04 from last week, but thanks to the Super Bowl up 6.5% from last year)

CBS:  1.92 (down 0.01 from last week, and down 25% from last year when it had the Super Bowl)

ABC:  1.65 (even with last week, but down 12% from last year)

CW:    0.53 (even with last week, down 3% from last year)

The past two weeks have been packed with network midseason premieres, and tonight’s preview of Believe will set up NBC’s new Sunday night line-up next week.  At the same time, quite a few cable networks have been using the same post-Olympics period for their own debuts and returns.  Here’s a roundup of how some of the more prominent shows have been doing:

A&E:  Good News Bad News.  BATES MOTEL returned strong at 1.3, but the new THOSE WHO KILL was utterly rejected by the Bates audience, plunging to 0.5 in the following hour.  Meanwhile, 2 weeks ago the network’s cash cow DUCK DYNASTY hit a low ebb at 2.0, but then rebounded last week to 2.5.

FX:  There was no Season 2 bump for THE AMERICANS, which has been at the same unexceptional 0.6-0.7 level as it had been late in its first season.

FXX:  The George Lopez vehicle SAINT GEORGE premiered with a lousy 0.4.  (The network will have to decide in 9 weeks whether to order 90 additional episodes).

TNT:  The bottom fell out of DALLAS last week, losing almost half its 18-49 audience from the previous week’s season premiere to 0.4.  Although the count of older total viewers was somewhat better, TNT will be scrutinizing tonight’s ratings with concern.  Things weren’t great on Tuesdays, either, as RIZZOLI & ISLES was also down by a wide margin from its 1.2 summer premiere at 0.7, with PERCEPTION (down 0.3 from summer) lagging behind at 0.5, which fell further to 0.4 the following week.  It’s probably no accident that TNT started publicizing its summer premieres earlier today.

USA:  SUITS returned more or less where it had left off at 0.8, allowing for the fact that its summer run (with a 1.0 finale) didn’t air against network originals.  Despite months of promotion, the half-hour SIRENS couldn’t do better than 0.5 (slipping to 0.4 for a 2d episode).

AMC:  The arm-wrestling reality show GAME OF ARMS was greeted indifferently at 0.5.  The network’s much higher-profile MAD MEN and the new TURN arrive in April.

HISTORY:  VIKINGS returned in fine form at 1.3 (although it dropped to 1.1 in Week 2), the same level it had been at after it lost the giant lead-in of The Bible last season.

BET:  THE GAME led its night on cable with a strong 1.6 in its season premiere.

ABCFAMILY:  The midseason run of TWISTED has been weak (at least in the 18-49 demo) at 0.4.

OWN:  Last night’s launch of LINDSAY (that being Lindsay Lohan) was as bleak as Lohan’s career prospects, with just 693K total curiosity seekers.

SUNDANCE:  The network isn’t at the point yet where it even talks about ratings–for now, it’s all about creating some buzz.  That hasn’t been there for the new THE RED ROAD, though, which is proving that even the most gullible TV critics won’t fall for the same low-intensity, slow-moving pretentiousness 4 times in a row.



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."