February 19, 2012

The Sked: Upscale Ratings — FOX Profile

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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Previously in this series on upscale TV ratings, we have examined ABC (many upscale shows but too many series stuck with mid-level or low audience sizes) and CBS (sizable audiences but many downscale or at best middling income skews).  Today, we look at FOX, which averages a 2.9 rating with Adults 18-49 this season to date with its regular schedule (equal to the CBS rating and well ahead of ABC’s 2.4).  With Adults 18-49 in $100K+ income homes, FOX averages a 2.8 rating (slightly ahead of ABC’s 2.7 and above CBS’s 2.6).  FOX’s upscale index of 96 is better than CBS’s 91 but far below ABC’s 113.

High Rated Shows.  Among FOX’s many high-rated shows, the network has a pretty good distribution of upscale to mid-range to downscale properties.  Two shows, Glee (139) and New Girl (130), grace the upper right section of our chart, boasting both high ratings and solid upper-income audience skews.  Next, the FOX schedule is anchored by American Idol (105) with great (though declining ratings) and middle-range income skew, indicating its appeal to all people.  The other FOX strengths, X Factor and the animation domination anchors, start to tilt downscale: from the Wednesday X Factor (94) to Thursday’s edition (88), down to The Simpsons (84) and Family Guy (71).  Not every show can be an upscale hit, but if the rest of the FOX schedule had such a balanced distribution, the network would be in pretty decent shape in terms of income skew.

Middle Rated Shows.  However, among the sizable number of middle-rated shows on FOX, there is a decided downscale skew.  There are no mid-rated FOX shows with a high upscale index and only three around 100: Monday’s House (106) and Alcatraz (105) along with Raising Hope (104).  The rest of Sunday’s animation block really falls off an income cliff: Cleveland Show (65) and American Dad (56), joined by freshman series Napoleon Dynamite (68) and Allen Gregory (69).  Other struggling shows from a variety of program genres find themselves with undistinguished index values in the 80s.

Low Rated Shows.  The good news for FOX is a dearth of genuinely low-rated programs, but the bad news is that Saturday’s installments of Cops have the lowest income index numbers of any network program (all the way down to the 50s) and Friday’s Kitchen Nightmares (66) is also very low.  Friday and Saturday are tough nights for the sales department (advertisers want to be on before the weekend starts when buying decisions are forming), and a downscale skew just makes the tough sales proposition almost impossible.

In the final post in this series, we will look at NBC, home of some of the most upscale — and simultaneously lowest-rated — programs on network TV.  

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."