July 22, 2011

THE SKED: Cable Ratings Update July 19-20

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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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Updating the cable hit chart (click “read more” to see it) with data from Tuesday and Wednesday, A&E’s Storage Wars joins the rankings of high-rated cable shows.  Other people’s junk is a very popular topic with Pawn Stars, Storage Wars and American Pickers all making the cut (and don’t forget the strangely fascinating Hoarders that usually does under a 1 rating).  For younger viewers, Teen Mom on MTV and Tosh.0 on Comedy Central make the ratings cut-off.  (Note how low the viewer 2+ number is for these two programs, indicating no one over the age of 50 is watching.)

Top Cable Programs (above a 1.5 18-49 rating)
July 17-20, 2011                 18-49  Viewers 2+
                                 Rating Impressions
Sun ESPN Women’s World Cup Soccer 4.7   13,458,000
Sun HBO  True Blood               2.7    5,104,000
Mon Hist Pawn Stars 10:00 pm      2.5    6,667,000
Mon Hist Pawn Stars 10:30 pm      2.3    6,394,000
Wed A&E  Storage Wars 10:30 pm    2.2    5,089,000
Wed A&E  Storage Wars 10:00 pm    2.0    4,499,000
Mon Hist American Pickers         1.9    5,574,000
Tue MTV  Teen Mom                 1.8    3,151,000
Mon USA  WWE 10:00 pm             1.7    4,981,000
Mon USA  WWE 9:00 pm              1.6    4,703,000
Sun E!   Keeping Up Kardashians   1.6    3,146,000
Tue CMDY Tosh.0                   1.6    2,783,000

Just below our ratings threshold of 1.5, USA’s Royal Pains earned a 1.4 young adult rating Wednesday night, with just over 5 million viewers over the age of 2.  Most summer scripted basic cable shows, in contrast, tend to rate in the low-1 rating range: White Collar and Covert Affairs on USA Tuesday as well as Necessary Roughness on USA Wednesday (1.2 18-49 rating, 4.2-4.5 million viewers 2+), Rizzoli & Isles on TNT (1.2 18-49 rating, 6.4 million viewers 2+), The Closer on TNT (1.1, 6.5 million), Eureka, Warehouse 13, and ALPHAS on SyFy (0.8-0.9 rating, 2.2-2.5 million).  Of all these programs Royal Pains has the best chance to grow its way onto our hit cable show list and stay there.
As with broadcast, cable reality is consistently beating the struggling scripted genres — especially with younger viewers (18-34 and to some extent 35-49).  This is not to say scripted is dead.  (Just as the predicted demise of comedy was crazy).  But the audience is clearly saying they are tired of the concepts, characters and story beats.  As contrived as much of it is, reality offers true unpredictability (as live sports coverage does), and it is populated by big characters (in every sense of the word).  If scripted shows can rediscover that sense of surprise with more memorable characters, the audience will gladly return.     


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.