September 17, 2012

The Sked: Sunday Ratings September 16

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Written by: Mitch Metcalf

A fairly ho-hum Sunday night on the broadcast networks, with only NBC and a few hours on CBS on the air with original programming.

Sunday Night Football (Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers) will be about an 8 rating with Adults 18-49 from 8:30 pm on, when the official nationals are released tomorrow.  With the pre-game programming (rated from 7:30-8:30) factored in, the night should average about a 7.0 in prime time.  That’s down from the amazing premiere last week (11.0 for the Steelers-Broncos game and 8.9 for the evening average), but very close to the fourth quarter average we forecast for NBC back in May: a 7.7 rating for the average SNF game and a 6.5 rating for NBC prime time Sundays in the fall.

CBS was second last night with a 2.5 from 7-11 pm.  The end of the Jets-Steelers game scored a 6.3 from 7-7:30, boosting 60 Minutes to a preliminary 3.2 from 7:30-8:30 (the show actually ran from about 7:35-8:35) and Big Brother to a 2.3 rating.  Good Wife and Mentalist were repeats at a 0.9 and 0.7, respectively.  In our forecast for the fall, we said a typical Sunday when CBS had the double-header game would be an 8.0 rating at 7:00, a 3.3 for 60 Minutes at 7:30, a 2.9 for Amazing Race (which starts in a few weeks).  So the night is behaving as expected.

FOX averaged a 2.0 rating from 7-10 pm with repeat animated comedies.  You will see a 2.4 rating at 7:00 pm for an American Dad repeat (currently the highest rated half hour for FOX on the evening) in preliminary ratings reports, but disregard the number.  The audience has not suddenly found Dad; much of that number includes regional coverage of Redskins at Rams, a great game which should have been the national late afternoon game as rookie QB Robert Griffin III almost pulled out a second victory in the final minutes.

ABC, as it has too often recently, found itself under a 1 rating.  A 0.7 from 7-11 for a repeat America’s Funniest Home Videos and three Revenge repeats.  Marathons of episodes to rekindle interest and find new viewers for a show’s second or third season are a bit of a throwback.  They sound like a good idea and seem like a vote of confidence for a young returning series — until the ratings come in the next day and the audience reminds everyone they simply do not tolerate repeats on a linear broadcast schedule.

A much more efficient way to entice new viewers and get them up to speed before the launch of a new season would be a smart marketing campaign (a mix of traditional and social marketing methods) pushing audience to digital platforms to catch up on the series.  If the series is compelling enough, many of these digital viewers will be converted to television viewers (at least via their DVR).  Repeats now and then are a fact of life.  But long stretches of repeat programming is death for any network.

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.