October 14, 2013

NIELSENWAR Week 3: Night-By-Night Network Ratings Impact


What do we know that we didn’t know last week?

Here’s the big-picture view of where each network’s primetime average stands in comparison to 2012-13 after 3 full weeks of the season:

NBC: 2.84 (+0.9%)
CBS: 2.18 ( -4.6%)
FOX: 2.13 (-5.9%)
ABC: 2.06 (-0.3%)

CW:  0.50 (-1.7%)  Note, CW didn’t begin premiering its season until the end of Week 2

Now a week-by-week look at each network since the season began (note–the wide swings for CBS and FOX are caused in part by which network has the late-Sunday football game that runs into primetime):

NBC: 3.07/2.81/2.67
CBS: 2.24/2.46 /1.85
FOX: 2.16/1.75/2.48
ABC: 2.29/2.08/1.82
CW:  0.27/0.53/0.69


day by day impactThis chart traces each network’s ratings through the course of the week, showing how each night impacts the network’s standing for the week.  It’s necessarily skewed by the day that starts the cycle (each night includes the averages of the nights that came before it), but there are some interesting results.

Obviously, the one that pops most is the gigantic importance of Mondays and Tuesdays (and Sundays, whose impact is minimized by being the 7th day of the cycle) to NBC.  The Peacock towers over the other networks on Monday-Tuesday, then spends the rest of the week dissipating their impact until football props the network up again on Sunday (a boost that will only last until the end of the year).

FOX, too, is all about Monday (and Sunday football overruns).  The network falls from 2d place on Mondays to 4th place the next day, and only barely climbs out on Sunday thanks to the overruns.

On the other hand, Mondays are currently depressing CBS‘s numbers, which peak when Big Bang Theory airs on Thursday.

ABC is the most stable of the networks, but that’s not a good thing when it means the network is stuck in 3rd or 4th place all week.

Here’s an update on the state of the networks after Week 3.

When CBS ordered 22 episodes of MIKE & MOLLY and didn’t put it on the fall schedule, it was clear that the show was intended as the band-aid for whichever night fell apart first.  That turned out to be Monday, where it will return in November.  But a band-aid is all the show is, one that won’t provide any forward movement for a night that’s going to lose its anchor HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER next season and can’t count on 2 BROKE GIRLS to pick up the slack.  HOSTAGES may survive its 15-week run, but that’s all that can be said for it.  Meanwhile, Tuesday and Wednesday nights are aging rapidly (aside from PERSON OF INTEREST, the shows on those nights range from 5-14 seasons old), and while the shows are still solid performers for now, their trajectory is going in the wrong direction.  THE BIG BANG THEORY gives Thursday the best start on network TV, and while THE MILLERS is doing well enough behind it to merit a back order, there’s nothing to suggest it can stand as a hit on its own, and THE CRAZY ONES is a moderate success at best.  Fridays and Sundays are more festivals of aging shows, with Sunday series lows across the board last night.

ABC‘s back order for AGENTS OF SHIELD last week may have reflected the network’s rush to claim it as a success before the numbers go down even lower from the 40% drop the series has taken over its first 3 airings.  ONCE UPON A TIME IN WONDERLAND got off to an awful start, and if it fails and SHIELD continues to sink, the network’s whole franchise-heavy scheduling philosophy will go down with them.  It’s hard to imagine BETRAYAL staying around for long after last night’s abysmal 0.8 rating, and none of the new sitcoms are sparking much interest, although several will probably receive back orders.

The most significant developments at FOX last week were behind the scenes.  The network gave an additional script order to DADS, which had a 1.3 rating in its last airing, canceled the intended midseason animated series MURDER POLICE before even airing an episode, and stopped production on another midseason comedy, US & THEM.  That combination suggests a comedy department in complete disarray, needing to hold onto low-rated shows because there’s nothing else on the shelves (just the Army comedy ENLISTED, currently slated for Fridays, and SURVIVING JACK, which is FOX’s version of The Goldbergs).  In particular, the failure of Murder Police, AMERICAN DAD‘s impending departure for TBS and the end of production on THE CLEVELAND SHOW leave Sunday nights very much in the air.  Dramas are in better shape, although GLEE will probably never see another number like the one for last week’s special memorial episode again.

Mondays aside, CW didn’t have a bad premiere week.  The signature hits ARROW, SUPERNATURAL and THE VAMPIRE DIARIES are still strong, THE TOMORROW PEOPLE and THE ORIGINALS are getting a good sampling, and REIGN seems to be generating a fair amount of buzz.  The HART OF DIXIE/BEAUTY & THE BEASTcombo, however, is a nightmare, and doesn’t seem likely to survive.

And then, of course, there’s NBC, which as we noted above is A Tale of Two Networks–and as many as Three Seasons:  the fall, with football and THE VOICE, the WINTER OLYMPICS in February, and then the return of The Voice (but no football) in the spring.  So far THE BLACKLIST is holding well–but at this time last season, REVOLUTION was doing the same numbers, holding in the low 3s/high 2s through November.  Wednesdays are a disaster, and Thursdays are essentially post-apocalyptic–and the failure of this fall’s Sean Hayes and Michael J. Fox sitcoms seems to have taught the network exactly nothing, based on this week’s news that NBC is now developing comedies for next fall starring Meg Ryan and Susan Sarandon.  Good luck with that.  Fridays won’t debut until Oct 25, so the network can hope that DRACULA pumps some fresh blood into its veins.


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."