September 26, 2011

The Sked: SUNDAY RATINGS September 25

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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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With an “average” NFL game on NBC (if you consider a 7+ rating in primetime average), the other networks premiered their Sunday lineups with only moderate success at best. 

ABC got off to a very sluggish start with the two-hour premiere of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (starting in the low-1 demo rating in the 7 pm hour and ending at the low-2 rating range from 8-9 pm).  Desperate Housewives returned with a 3.2 Adult 18-49 rating (below our ShowBuzzDaily forecast for the fall), while Pan Am held most of the audience and turned in a 3.1 rating for its debut.  By half hour, Housewives did a 3.2 from 9:00-9:30 and dipped to a 3.1 from 9:30-10:00.  Then, Pan Am picked up steam from 10:00-10:30 to a 3.2, but descended to a 3.0 from 10:30-11:00.  The two-tenths decline in the second half hour is not unusual for a new 10 pm show and is not an immediate cause for concern.  The true test for the Jet Age drama will come in weeks two and three.  Assume ABC is relieved but not overjoyed with this performance

At CBS, four returning shows premiered last night.  While the 7-9 pm portion of the night is in okay shape, the 9-11 dramas are struggling.  The venerable 60 Minutes and Amazing Race premiered above our estimates for the fall — in the high-2 or 3 rating range.  But then the young adults made a move for other networks at 9 pm, with The Good Wife and CSI: Miami sinking to a low-2 rating.  There are plenty of Adults 50+ watching the CBS dramas, but younger viewers are just not that interested. CBS has to be concerned that the The Good Wife is looking more and more like Murder, She Wrote in terms of its audience profile.

FOX is off to a good start with “Animation Domination” from 8-10 pm.  On a week when FOX had the 4 pm late afternoon NFL national game, the 7 pm hour was filled with plenty of NFL viewers (close to an 8 rating from 7:00-7:30 and close to a 5 watching The OT highlight show from 7:30-8:00).  All four animated comedies came in well above our fall forecasts for the shows.  Although the ratings for the comedies will be down in weeks when CBS hasa the late football game, this is still a very good start and The Simpsons should settle in at a mid-3 rating and Family Guy at a high-3 rating.  FOX should be very pleased.

Very preliminary numbers for premiere week have FOX winning with a 3.2 or 3.3 rating (depending on rounding) and CBS in second place with a 3.1.  ABC is on third with a 2.7 or 2.8, and NBC brings up the rear with a 2.5 or maybe 2.6, depending on how the final nationals come in for Sunday Night Football.

SUNDAY FALL 2011    Estimates         Episode Rating     
                    May   Sep   #1   #2   #3   #4   #5   #6   Avg
 700 AF Home Videos 1.5   1.5   10/2

 800 Once Upon Time 2.0   2.0   10/23
 900 Desp Housewves 3.7   3.5   3.2
1000 Pan Am         2.4   2.5   3.1 
 700 60 Minutes     2.4   2.4   2.7
 800 Amazing Race   2.9   2.8   3.0

 900 Good Wife      2.6   2.4   2.3
1000 CSI Miami      2.7   2.6   2.2
 815 NFL SNF        7.5   8.1   10.7 10.0 7.5
 700 Various      
 730 Various        
 800 Simpsons       3.1   3.0   3.8   

 830 Cleveland Show 2.4   2.3   3.1
 900 Family Guy     3.4   3.3   4.1
 930 American Dad   2.3   2.3   3.0

Note:  the ratings estimates are for original episodes across the entire Fall (from mid-September through mid-December).  Generally, a series will premiere at a high level and then settle into a more normal number by week four-six.  The important number to look at as the season unfolds is the average-to-date column at the far right.  By the time episode four rolls around, look at the average of episodes one-four and you should have a pretty good idea how the fall — and the entire season — will sort out.   

Special Sunday Note: CBS programs will be a few tenths higher on nights CBS has the 4 pm national NFL game (and the entire schedule is shifted about a half hour later) and a few tenths lower when CBS does not have the late game. When FOX has the 4 pm game, football will go to about 7:30 and The OT will fill until 8 pm, lifting The Simpsons a few tenths.  When FOX does not have the 4 pm game, the 8-10 comedies will be slightly lower and comedy repeats will fill the 7 pm hour.  New animated comedy Allen Gregory is scheduled to run at 8:30 on October 30, although it could very well be pushed to mid-season.


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.