October 8, 2012



We’ve had a second week of ratings to examine, and it’s time once again to ask:  How goes the war?  And what do we know now that we didn’t know a week ago?

ANYTHING OVER 1.5 IS THE NEW 2.5.  NBC and FOX have given back orders to a total of 5 shows (REVOLUTION, GO ON, THE NEW NORMAL, THE MINDY PROJECT and BEN & KATE), and ABC has ordered additional scripts for THE NEIGHBORS, and with the exception of Revolution, not a single one of them had a rating last week over a 2.1 (that was for Go On; Ben & Kate brought up the rear with 1.6).  It wasn’t so long ago that those kinds of numbers meant cancellation, but the definition of “hit” has shifted quite a bit lately.

LIVE + 3 DAY DOESN’T CHANGE VERY MUCH.  This isn’t really something we didn’t know, but it’s something that doesn’t seem to be talked about as much as it should.  The networks are spinning the larger numbers that shows receive when 3 days of DVR viewing are included in the ratings, and that’s fair enough since those are genuine extra viewers (although misleading in the sense that advertising revenue takes ad-skipping into account, and also because virtually every show on the air gets a bump).  But the increases are proportional:  by and large, shows that air 8-10PM increase their initial ratings 25-35% (live competition shows like The Voice increase at a lower rate, since viewers want to see them as they happen), while 10PM shows increase more like 50’%.  Flops don’t generally become hits by virtue of the extra 3 days of viewing, and hits don’t become flops.

NASHVILLE MEANS EVERYTHING TO ABC:  Things haven’t been going well for the Alphabet so far this season.  LAST RESORT, 666 PARK AVENUE and THE NEIGHBORS aren’t disasters (yet), but none of them look like significant hits, while returning shows that had strong numbers in their season premieres like ONCE UPON A TIME and GREY’S ANATOMY sank in Week 2.  The network’s only remaining chance at a big new fall hit is Nashville, which is being given the deluxe treatment on Wednesday with back-to-back Modern Family episodes as lead-in.  (In contrast, expectations are much lower for NBC’s CHICAGO FIRE, launching directly opposite ABC’s soap.)

CBS MAY BE THE FIRST TO DRAW BLOOD.  With MOB DOCTOR seemingly “safe” for a few weeks due to FOX’s tangled baseball schedule, CBS could quickly get rid of one or both of PARTNERS and MADE IN JERSEY.  Compared to some of the sitcoms that got back orders, Partners doesn’t look so bad with its 2.1 last week, but that’s in the context of a Monday sitcom line-up that otherwise doesn’t dip below 2.9.  Made In Jersey is simply a disaster, practically asking to get whacked.

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."