October 7, 2011

The Sked: THURSDAY RATINGS October 6

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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ABC is really losing audience on Thursdays at a rapid pace.  They could fall below already-weak NBC on the night.  Charlie’s Angels needs to go, but what are they going to replace it with?  Grey’s Anatomy repeats?  That’s what they did last fall, and all that happened was the time period went from a 1.1 for My Generation to a 1.2 for Grey’s repeats.  The real problem for ABC is that the medical soaps are just dying.  Like the Wednesday edition, Thursday’s The X Factor is settling very close to a 4, good enough for another midweek nightly victory for FOX.  FOX’s happiness about the primetime ratings last night have to be tempered by the fact that the Detroit Tigers eliminated the ratings-gold New York Yankees in Game 5 last night.  A dream Phillies-Yankees World Series could turn into a horrific Diamonbacks-Rangers match-up very quickly. 

FOX was #1 again on Thursday with 3.8 thanks to The X Factor, which is settling at a high-3 rating for the Thursday edition.  The three-week track is 4.3…3.9…3.8, which probably goes up to a 3.9 in the final nationals this afternoon.  On this night last year FOX was #3 with a 2.3 rating: Bones (2.7 rating) and Fringe (2.0). 

CBS was #2 with a 2.9 rating, down a touch from a 3.0 last week.  Big Bang fell to a 4.4 this week from a 4.9 last week.  The comedy usually rounds up so this afternoon it should be a 4.5, which very well might be its normal level the rest of the year.  How to be a Gentleman drifted down to a 2.5, down a moderate 0.2 from last week’s premiere.  In terms of retention, How was 55% last week and 57% this week, similarly weak numbers.  The 55ish% retention is embarassing, but the absolute level of the rating is not horrific — so why rush to join the cancellation brigade?  A bigger issue is 9 pm.  Person of Interest has not found bottom yet and might slide into the low-2’s by next week, a tough level for the #1 marketing priority.  In contrast, The Mentalist seems to have stablized at a 2.7.  This night last year (10.7.2010), CBS was #1 with a 3.1 rating: Big Bang Theory (4.1), $#*! My Dad Says (2.9), CSI (2.7), Mentalist (3.0).

ABC has sunk to a weak #3 with a 2.1 rating on the night, down all the way from a 2.6 last week.  The network continues to have a big problem at 8 pm, with Charlie’s Angels hitting a 1.2.  Remember, it premiered at a 2.1.  The Angels are probably next on the chopping block of cancellation despite limited options.  The news is also horrible 9-11 pm, with each medical soap down 0.6 from last week.  The wheels have come off.  On this night last year, ABC was #2 with a 2.9 rating: Grey’s Anatomy repeat (1.2), Grey’s Anatomy (4.6), Private Practice (2.9). 

NBC was #4 again with a 2.0 rating, down moderately from a 2.2 last week.  Whitney retained an acceptable (but unimpressive) portion of her lead-in (74%).  The three-week retention track shows it is taking okay advantage of the declining Office:  82%…73.5%…74%.  Speaking of The Office, it’s looking grim without Michael Scott, compounded by the lack of a real succession plan.  The show started at a 3.9 premiere week and is already down to a 3.1.  Look for it to sink into the high-2’s in the next week or two.  Prime Suspect has stablized at a 1.5, certainly not good enough for more episodes but not bad enough yet for a pink slip given the myriad other problems on the schedule.  On this night last year, NBC was #4 with a 2.1 rating: Community (1.8), 30 Rock (2.1), The Office (3.5), Outsourced (2.5), Apprentice (1.3). 

Through the first 18 nights of the season, FOX and CBS are tied with a 3.2, while ABC has a 2.6 and NBC a 2.3 or 2.4 depending on rounding.  The CW is averaging a 0.75 season to date, with last night Vampire Diaries (1.2) providing some rare good news but Secret Circle doing a ho-hum (for them) 0.8 rating. 

THURSDAY FALL 2011  Estimates         Episode Rating     
                                #1   #2   #3   #4   #5   #6   Avg
 800 Charlie’s Ang     2.2      2.1  1.5  1.2                 1.6

 900 Grey’s Anatomy    3.6      4.1  3.6  3.0                 3.6
1000 Private Practi    2.5      2.8  2.2                      2.5
 800 Big Bang Theor    4.0      5.0  4.9  4.4                 4.8
 830 How Gentleman     2.9      2.7  2.5                      2.6
 900 Person Interest   3.5      3.1  2.7  2.5                 2.8

1000 Mentalist         3.3      2.8  2.6  2.7                 2.7
 800 Community         1.9      1.7  1.8  1.5                 1.7
 830 Parks & Rec       2.1      2.1  2.1  1.9                 2.0
 900 The Office        3.0      3.9  3.5  3.1                 3.5

 930 Whitney           2.4      3.3  2.5  2.3                 2.7
1000 Prime Suspect     2.4      1.8  1.5  1.5                 1.6

 800 X-Factor          3.4      4.3  3.9  3.8                 4.0
 900 Bones             2.5      11/3
 800 Vampire Diar      n/a      1.5  1.2  1.3  1.2            1.3
 900 Secret Circle     n/a      1.3  0.9  1.0  0.8            1.0

An important 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.  CW shows are not currently estimated because we have incomplete historical data for the network’s time periods.  CW estimates should be available later this season or early next season. 

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."