March 18, 2014

NIELSENWAR: Midseason (Mostly) In Place


Although last night’s launch of DANCING WITH THE STARS will dampen things a bit, ABC is in better shape now than it’s been for months.  Last week’s averages included 3 hours of THE BACHELOR finale, as well as the successful second episode of RESURRECTION, and with Shonda Rhimes and SHARK TANK doing their part, ABC won the week (ratings thru Sunday, Live + Same Day) with 1.91, up 0.25 from last week.  NBC followed at 1.69 (down 0.06), then CBS at 1.57 (down 0.23), and FOX at 1.43 (up 0.03).  CW’s week featured quite a few reruns, dropping it to 0.39 (down 0.2).

No one moved much in the season to date numbers:

NBC:  2.61 (down 0.04 from last week, up 21% from last year due to the Winter Olympics)

FOX:  2.29 (down 0.04 from last week, up 5% from last year due to the Super Bowl)

CBS:  1.91 (down 0.01 from last week, down 25% from last year with no Super Bowl)

ABC:  1.66 (up 0.01 from last week, down 11% from last year)

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

There are still a few scattered premieres to come (Friends With Better Lives on CBS, Surviving Jack on FOX, The 100 on CW, Black Box on ABC), but the network midseason schedules are now more or less set.  Where does everyone stand?

ABC:  The arrival of Resurrection was good news for a network desperately needing some.  The show took a hit in its second week, and the longevity of shows that center around a Big Secret is questionable (Lost aside), but for now it’s thriving, and Once Upon A Time (and to a lesser extent Revenge) have upticked too.  Both Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal are holding well in their midseason returns, although Grey’s is certainly showing its age, and Shark Tank is now regularly giving ABC the win on Fridays.  But the launches of Mixology and Mind Games were disasters, and Suburgatory is gasping for breath.  Still, the journey of a thousand miles…

NBC:  Sunday night’s ratings confirm that NBC really is (high-rated but unprofitable NFL games aside) The Voice + The Blacklist and not much else.  None of the midseason launches–About A Boy, Growing Up Fisher, Believe and Crisis–show much promise, although Boy is propped up by its The Voice lead-in.  That leaves the network with a ton of work still ahead, and the nagging concern that The Blacklist might not look so impressive in any timeslot other than the one it’s in, with both of its last 2 episodes, despite the Voice lead-in, scoring just 0.2 above the ratings it was getting in the weeks The Voice was off the air.

FOX:  That 1.43 weekly average above?  That’s likely to be very similar to FOX’s weekly average next fall, now that it’s renewed a slew of bubble shows and worse.  American Idol came in third place in the first half-hour of last week’s Thursday episode, and it may not have hit bottom yet.  In order to make any strides next season, FOX will need to replace The X Factor with some winners, and as difficult as that is, it becomes harder when a network has no hits to use as lead-ins.

CBS:  When you’re CBS, you can more or less ignore midseason.  While it waits for the finale of How I Met Your Mother to launch Friends With Better Lives in 2 weeks, its only move was to switch slots between 2 1/2 Men and The Crazy Ones (which helped the former and hurt the latter).  But last night’s ratings had to be worrisome, with every show in the line-up except the soon-to-go How I Met Your Mother either at or barely above its low.  The Tuesday and Wednesday veterans do nothing but get older, and while The Millers is coming back next season, it may be just to demonstrate how quickly it will be demolished without its Big Bang Theory lead-in.

CW:  Star-Crossed has gone nowhere on Mondays, and no one expects Hart of Dixie to do much in its Friday move, so the network’s midseason hopes are now pinned on The 100, which will have the benefit of an Arrow lead-in on Wednesday.  On the plus side, Reign is showing signs of life, with a very decent (by CW standards) 0.5 last week despite its Vampire Diaries lead-in being a rerun.  It’s an entertaining show that could use some buzz outside its network’s narrow target demo.


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."