November 5, 2012

The Sked: Season Ratings Night by Night

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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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Earlier, we saw the season to date ratings for each broadcast network.  Of course, the Monday-Sunday weekly primetime average does not tell the whole story.  Each night of the week has its own character and dynamics.  Here are the night-by-night averages for each network six weeks into the TV season (along the percent change from the first six weeks last fall).

Nightly Primetime 18-49 Rating — First Six Weeks
NBC 4.1 3.2 1.7 1.4 1.3 0.7 6.4
+183% +57% +7% -26% +4% +11% -1%
CBS 2.5 2.6 2.8 3.2 1.3 1.3 2.9
-45% -22% -15% +2% -18% +7% n/c
FOX 1.6 2.0 3.1 2.7 1.2 1.3 3.4
-49% -47% -5% -39% -51% -21% +1%
ABC 2.2 1.8 2.7 2.5 1.6 1.6 2.3
-29% -24% -22% -3% +32% -6% +1%

NBC:  Two nights have made all the difference to NBC,  Monday and Tuesday.  Moving The Voice into the fall (at long last) accounts for most of the gains on the first two nights of the broadcast week, but honorable mentions go to Revolution and to a lesser extent Go On.  Last year, NBC averaged a 1.5 rating on Monday for the first six weeks, and now NBC Monday is the second highest rated night of television (behind only NBC’s Sunday during the fall).  And last year, NBC was a fourth-place 2.0 on Tuesday — now a first-place 3.2 rating.  Much work remains to be done, however.  Wednesday through Saturday remains a disaster, with Thursday doing the impossible: moving from a horrible 1.9 to a catastrophic 1.4.  January and February (without Sunday Night Football and The Voice) will be a real test fro NBC, but there is no denying this is a good start.

CBS:  After enjoying a dominant Monday last fall (a 4.5 rating at this point thanks to the arrival of Ashton Kutcher on Two and a Half Men), CBS has fallen to a very mediocre 2.5 on this night.  Mediocre could describe CBS’s entire schedule at the moment: only one night in the victory column (Thursday) and many other nights in the mid-2 rating range.  No nights are real embarrassments as the only nights to sink below a 2 rating are the lesser-viewed Friday and Saturday cesspools.

FOX: While CBS has to contend with four nights down significantly from last fall, FOX is looking at five nights trending down fast.  A nightmarish baseball postseason only accelerated declines that had already been established early in the season.  Pretty much nothing is going right, and if American Idol continues to decline this winter, the season will be a total loss.

ABC:  The lone glimmer of hope on the ABC schedule is Friday night: solid gains so far on that night, but there is a real ratings ceiling even if ABC continues to grow there.  Like CBS, ABC has seen its collapse mainly on the more important Monday-Wednesday nights.

Ratings source: Nielsen PeopleMeter Sep 24-Nov 4, 2012 and Sep 19-Oct 30, 2011, all prime time programs, Adult 18-49 rating, live+same day.  Nov 2-4, 2012 are fast nationals, adjusted by ShowbuzzDaily.

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.