Morning ratings are a race, with a dozen reporters rushing to quickly post numbers that we know represent maybe 40 percent of a show’s actual audience. That race means less time for spot analysis and commentary, even on figures as incomplete as Nielsen Fast Nationals are.
This season I’m going to try doing some more ratings analysis as the days go along in addition to the regular ratings stories, which I generally try to make as balanced and contextualized as possible anyway. I’m also going to try doing more coverage of Live+3 and Live+7 figures when those become available.
I don’t know how regular these pieces will be. Ideally they’d be daily for the next couple weeks until the numbers settle, but no promises. Somedays I may have 10 bulletpoints. Other days I may have three. We’ll see.
Fortunately, there’s a ton to discuss about the Fast National numbers for Wednesday, September 24.
*** Those are very good numbers for “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” On Tuesday night on Twitter, I predicted a 4.1 rating among adults 18-49 and 12.7 million viewers. The Fast National numbers were 4.6 in the key demo and nearly 11.9 million viewers. My numbers were on the conservative side, but a 4.6 is solid and it’s inevitable that “S.H.I.E.L.D.” will make huge gains in Live+3 and Live+7, since that’s what young-skewing shows tend to do and that’s what “genre” shows tend to do.
*** They aren’t, however, game-changing numbers for “S.H.I.E.L.D.” and just as inevitably as the numbers for the premiere will rise in expanded figures, the Fast National numbers for the second week are going to drop. I sense that reaction to the pilot was tepidly positive, which could lead more people to push this Joss Whedon drama to a DVR slot rather than live viewing. ABC designed its schedule so that “S.H.I.E.L.D.” would somehow launch an entire night of programming, which was never really plausible, but so far it appears to have launched half a night. That’s something. On a side note, I desperately need a new drama to premiere higher than a 5.0 in the key demo, because every time I have to say, “Wait, what drama premiered with a 5 in 2009?” and then I remember “V,” it boggles the mind. “V” was down to a 3.6 in its second week and a 3.1 the following week. ABC had better hope that “S.H.I.E.L.D.” avoids that sort of drop pattern.
*** I dramatically underestimated how well “The Goldbergs” would hold the “S.H.I.E.L.D.” audience. Again on Twitter, I predicted a 50 percent drop between the Marvel adaptation and the shout-y ’80s comedy. While “The best comedy premiere since ‘Go On'” is a point of tempered pride, 9.1 million viewers and over a 3 in the key demo? That’s a win. Theoretically. It’s definitely enough for ABC to start advertising “The Goldbergs” as a new hit comedy, just like ABC called that celebrity diving thing a hit as its ratings plunged each week. And I’m worried about “Trophy Wife,” because I’m sure everything on ABC is dropping next week and “Trophy Wife” could be in iffier position by November.
*** “Trophy Wife” is still a robust success compared to “Lucky 7.” Yikes. Under 4.6 million viewers and a 1.3 key demo rating? If I have to be looking up the name of that Rob Morrow/Maura Tierney drama that tanked in 2010, you know your drama isn’t doing well. For what it’s worth, that was “The Whole Truth” and it premiered to 4.9 million viewers and a 1.5 in the key demo and was cancelled after six airings. Last year’s first drama cancelled, CBS’ “Made in Jersey,” premiered to over 7.7 million viewers and a 1.1 key demo rating, while the dearly lamented “Lone Star” premiered to under 4.1 million viewers and a 1.3 key demo rating, all the more astounding since “House” was still doing over 10.5 million and over a 4 in the demo at that point. Still, “Lucky 7” isn’t long for this world and ABC has a problem on its hands, because there isn’t a drama pilot that appears to be immediately ready for that slot. “Killer Women” and “Mind Games” weren’t even sent to the press in May. The problem with an all-new programming night is that you end up picking favorites for promotion and “Lucky 7” definitely got the short end for ABC and this is the result.
*** “NCIS” and “NCIS: Los Angeles” are still juggernauts. Nearly 19.5 million viewers and nearly 16.2 million viewers? In this climate? That’s ridiculous, even if the demos were down from last year.
*** CBS just can’t solve Tuesday at 10 p.m. From “The Good Wife” to “Unforgettable” to “Vegas,” CBS keeps giving high profile dramas that post-“NCIS”-double slot and they keep underperforming. The point with “Person of Interest” was that it was *already* a hit. Well, with a premiere of under 12.3 million viewers and only a 2.3 in the key demo, CBS watched as “Person of Interest” both dipped from its own high Thursday numbers, but also fell below the premieres for “Unforgettable” (nearly 14 million and a 2.9 key demo in Fast Nationals) and “Vegas” (14.5+ million and 2.5 key demo). Of course, those shows were getting big samplings and then fell fairly fast and steeply. It would be reasonable to think that “Person of Interest” has a better chance to hold and if it holds, those numbers will represent a big boost for CBS. The concern is how moving “Person of Interest” out of its Thursday slot will impact that valuable night. If “Crazy Ones” is a hit? CBS celebrates and cruises. But if “Crazy Ones” misses — I’m sure it will premiere well, but where will it be in a month? — it has the chance of messing with numbers for both “2.5 Men” and “Elementary.” And “Elementary” is particularly susceptible to declines with “Scandal” building and NBC programming “Parenthood” there. Too soon to tell!
*** After two days, NBC’s post-“Voice” gambits are working. “The Blacklist” was above the premiere week numbers for “Revolution” (a cheat, since it was the “Blacklist” premiere, while “Revolution” had launched a week earlier) and “Chicago Fire” built on what was already a solid base from last year. “Chicago Fire” isn’t an unqualified hit by any means, but it’s the sort of sturdy player that you need when you’re building. NBC would love if “Revolution” can hold that “sturdy player” after shifting to Wednesday.
*** FOX knew its comedies would drop big from last week’s premieres, but anticipating something and looking at it are very different. With 5.6 million viewers and a 2.1 in the key demo, “Dads” is a “Suck it, critics!” success for FOX. One week later, with 3.65 million viewers and a 1.5 in the key demo? Not-so-much. With nearly 6 million viewers and a 2.5 in the key demo, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is a critical success with a real chance to become a cornerstone. With 4 million and a 1.8 key demo, “Brooklyn” is proof that “Dads” didn’t poison the hour, but nothing more. FOX has “Raising Hope” scheduled for Fridays still, but I don’t know at what point the proven low-but-steady Tuesday 8 p.m. numbers for “Raising Hope” begin to look better than the unproven-but-sinking numbers for “Dads.” I don’t think we’re there yet, but some of those comedy numbers are wicked ugly for FOX. “The Goldbergs” more-than-doubling the overall audience for “New Girl” and beating “New Girl” by 50 percent in the key demo? Ugly. And “Trophy Wife” did the same to “Mindy.” The 8 p.m. gaps should look less embarrassing next week when the ABC comedies dip and FOX’s established comedies either tick up or remain steady, but it’s less certain that FOX’s unproven 8 p.m. comedies will have comparable stability even if/when “S.H.I.E.L.D.” falls. My hunch would be that “The Voice” gains more of the departing live “S.H.I.E.L.D.” audience than “Dads.”
That was longer than I necessarily want these analysis stories to be, but I’m gonna figure this out as I go along!