March 22, 2013



March Madness takes a toll on American Idol.


CBS:  Per Mitch Metcalf:  The CBS numbers are adjusted fast nationals (ShowbuzzDaily estimates of what the live telecast will look like in the official nationals when the Pacific and Mountain time zones are properly counted).  The second prime time game at 9:30 was one of the biggest blowouts ever for a March Madness game in prime time.  Because of CBS’s agreements with TBS, TNT and TRU, CBS had to stick with its turkey of a game while the exciting upset of Harvard over New Mexico stayed on TNT.  In previous years of regionalized coverage, CBS would have been able to switch the country to the better game.  However, keep in mind that the CBS ratings on March 22 last year were for the second Thursday of the tournament (because of a quirk in the calendar).   The better comparison (the first Thursday of March Madness on March 15, 2012) was a 1.5 rating on CBS from 8-10 for VA Commonwealth vs Wichita State and a 1.5 for New Mexico at Indiana at 10 pm.  So the tournament is actually off to a normal to better than normal start.

FOX:  Over the past 5 weeks, AMERICAN IDOL has steadily fallen to the tune of more than a full ratings point, and last night it slipped another 0.3 to hit 2.8, only enough to tie the night’s ABC soaps.  (And down 1.4 from this time last year.) Tis kind of shortfall is going to require millions in compensation from FOX to Idol advertisers.   GLEE managed to hold even from last week, albeit at an unexciting 2.0.

ABC:  The sad thing about the 1.7 launch for WIFE SWAP is that it’s the best number ABC has done all season in that slot.  GREY’S ANATOMY recovered a bit from last week’s series low, climbing 0.3 to 2.9, and SCANDAL, with its first new episode in a month, held very steady with its third consecutive 2.7.

NBC:  THE OFFICE was a rerun last night (0.9), so the highest rated show of the evening was a 1.1, a tie between COMMUNITY (tying its all-time low) and a rerun SVU.  Two fresh episodes of 1600 PENN were at 0.9/0.8.

CW:  THE VAMPIRE DIARIES was up a tick to 1.2, and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST did a bit better, rising 0.2 to 0.7.

The NCAA TOURNAMENT continues tonight against new competition on FOX and NBC.  ABC precedes some reruns with the season finales of bubble shows LAST MAN STANDING and MALIBU COUNTRY.

Original episode track for Thursday network programs.

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."