May 17, 2013



Last night’s festival of season/series finales was also a riot of off-hour running times, and there will be more than the usual number of afternoon adjustments once final numbers are on.  The analysis below features updated American Idol, The Office  and Hannibal numbers from the ones in this morning’s chart.  Note from the “if you build it, they will come” department:  the broadcast networks collectively last night were up over last year — an increasingly rare event.

Daily Comparison 2013 Thu May 16

FOX:  The AMERICAN IDOL season finale won the night for FOX against heavy competition, but its 3.6 (the number was updated from the chart above to reflect the show’s full running time to 10:07PM) was down 0.8 from last season’s regular Thursday episode on the parallel night, and–much more seriously–down a calamitous 2.8 from last season’s 6.4 finale, a plunge of over 40% in one year.  If FOX and the producers can’t turn the ship around, this could be the last time the Idol finale means anything in the ratings.

NBC:  In adjusted numbers, THE OFFICE finale had a 3.0 for the full 75-minute running time, a season high that was up 0.7 from last week’s 1-hour episode, and up 0.8 from last season’s finale (although well down from its Steve Carell-era numbers.  The preliminary 2.9 for THE OFFICE finale will likely go up when the final 15 minutes are included later today.  As it is, the episode was the season’s high, up 0.6 from last week’s 1-hour episode, and up 0.7 from last season’s finale (although well down from its Steve Carell-era numbers).  The night started with a 1-hour Office clip show, which did a healthy 2.0–better than anything other than The Office did on Thursdays all season for NBC.  HANNIBAL ended up with a 1.0, matching its series low despite its biggest lead-in ever.  Our estimated 1.1 for the shortened HANNIBAL would be in line with its last several episodes.

ABC:  The SCANDAL season finale (which started at 10:02PM) was even in preliminary numbers with last week’s series high, and in a season when almost every holdover show declined, it was up a remarkable 0.9 from last season’s finale.  (ABC also notes that it hit new all-time highs in every female demographic.)  It was preceded by the GRAY’S ANATOMY season finale, which slipped slightly from last week against huge competition to 3.0, and was down 1.1 (about 25%) from last season’s finale.  The night started (barely) with a series low 1.0 for WIPEOUT, down 0.3 from last week.

CBS:  The highest rated show on any network for the night was the season finale of THE BIG BANG THEORY, which had a 4.4, although that was down half a point from last week (but up 0.2 from last year’s season finale, which didn’t face finales on NBC or FOX).  A Big Bang rerun held remarkably well at 8:30PM with a 3.2, but then ELEMENTARY didn’t get to join in the fun, with only a 2.0 for its 2-hour season finale, about even with its results for the past few weeks (and ABC claims that in the 10PM head-to-head competition, Elementary slipped to tie its series low 1.9.)

CW:  With all the excitement on the other networks, the season finales of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES and BEAUTY & THE BEAST remained exactly even with last week at 1.0 and 0.5.  (Vampire was down 0.1 from last year’s season finale.)

Tonight will be much tamer on the networks, with season finales for SHARK TANK, UNDERCOVER BOSS and NIKITA, and FOX already in reruns.

Episode Track 2013 Thu May 16

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."