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Friday Night Lights: Renew or Cancel?

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Written By

November 5th, 2007

fridaynightlights.jpg

UPDATE: Friday Night Lights has been picked up by DirecTV and NBC through the 2010-11 Season.

 

A cult fan and critic darling last season, but not a viewer favorite [#133 in HHs, and #127 in 18-49 viewers], NBC's Friday Night Lights [Friday 9PM Eastern] returned this season hoping to build its viewership.

Once again we ask, Renew or Cancel?

Friday Night Light's Rank among NBC Shows, All Shows

Date Viewer Rank among NBC Shows Viewer Rank among all Shows
10/5 #19 of 23 #68 of 234
10/12 #19 of 23 #77 of 226
10/19 #20 of 24 #79 of 226
10/26 #18 of 22 #79 of 225

This season, Friday Night Lights has typically finished at the bottom of all non-rerun NBC shows. Among all broadcast shows, it has typically finished behind every ABC, CBS, and Fox first run shows with the exception of Next Great American Band. It has regularly been beating CW shows.

How is it doing against its competition on Wednesday?

Friday Night Light's Viewership and Rankings for its 9PM Friday Timeslot.

Date Viewers (Rank) Adults 18-49 (Rank) Adults 18-34 (Rank) Adults 25-54 (Rank)
10/5 6.37m (2) 2.78m (2) 1.04m (3) 3.03m (2)
10/12 5.46m (4) 2.27m (5) 0.93m (4) 2.75m (4)
10/19 5.37m (3) 2.47m (4) 0.92m (2) 2.83m (3)
10/26* 5.27m (4) 2.15m (4) 0.87m (3) 2.29m (4)
11/2** 5.45m      

Friday Night Lights audience started low and has continued to drift downward in all demo categories.

It consistently finishes behind ABC's Women's Murder Club and CBS's Moonlighting in all categories, and behind Univision's Destilando Amor in the youth demos.

Friday Night Light's Lead-In Audience Lost from Deal or No Deal

Date Lead-In Audience Lost
10/5 -24%
10/12 -46%
10/19 -41%
10/26* -49%
11/2** -41%

Friday Night Lights follows one of NBC's biggest shows, Deal or No Deal, but, except for the debut week, almost half the audience tunes out before watching.

Conclusions

Negatives

  1. NBC's lowest rated first run timeslot.
  2. Nearly the lowest rated show among all ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox shows.
  3. Audience still trending down in all demographic categories.
  4. Consistently finishes 3rd or 4th in all demo categories vs. its timeslot competition.

Positives

  1. Whatever caused NBC to renew it after the end of last season.

Verdict: Turn out the lights. Solid Cancel.

The writers strike begins on 11/5. I would not expect FNL to return after all its available episodes are telecast.

 

Wondering about other shows? Check our all our Renew or Cancel? posts.

________________________________________________________

*Live, all other data is Live+SD

** From Fast Overnight Data

Nielsen TV Ratings Data: ©2007 Nielsen Media Research, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 
  • Ike

    Ouch. I thought FNL’s English-language win among adults 18-34 on 10/19 might be a sign that it’s doing OK (it was only beaten by Univision on that night, according to a recent Mediaweek article). But if it was #3 the following week, that’s definitely NOT good.

    Another timeslot probably wouldn’t help. It’s already been tried on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. One episode last year aired on Mondays at 10 after “Heroes” and didn’t do any better than usual. Why put it back there again?

    The problem with moving FNL to another channel: Other channels pick up new shows in the hopes they’ll be HUGE hits. FNL has pretty much proven it has a ceiling of 5 or 6 million. Shows that move networks almost always fall in the ratings (“JAG” might be the one exception). Moving to cable means a BIG drop in ratings. USA would rather spend its money on a new show hoping it’ll get the blockbuster (by cable standards) ratings of “Burn Notice” or the first year of “The 4400.” The only reason “L&O: CI” moved is because producer Dick Wolf has tons of power, plus he slashed the budget.

  • Ike

    Ouch. I thought FNL’s English-language win among adults 18-34 on 10/19 might be a sign that it’s doing OK (it was only beaten by Univision on that night, according to a recent Mediaweek article). But if it was #3 the following week, that’s definitely NOT good.

    Another timeslot probably wouldn’t help. It’s already been tried on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. One episode last year aired on Mondays at 10 after “Heroes” and didn’t do any better than usual. Why put it back there again?

    The problem with moving FNL to another channel: Other channels pick up new shows in the hopes they’ll be HUGE hits. FNL has pretty much proven it has a ceiling of 5 or 6 million. Shows that move networks almost always fall in the ratings (“JAG” might be the one exception). Moving to cable means a BIG drop in ratings. USA would rather spend its money on a new show hoping it’ll get the blockbuster (by cable standards) ratings of “Burn Notice” or the first year of “The 4400.” The only reason “L&O: CI” moved is because producer Dick Wolf has tons of power, plus he slashed the budget.

  • Mike

    I don’t spend much of my time watching TV. However, I do make time for this show. I agree with what several other people have said about it’s current time slot. I have to believe that the people that would watch this show are in attendance of their local high school’s football game and therefore are missing this excellent show. I have a DVR so I record it and watch it the next night. Pick a new night or maybe start tracking the DVR viewership–maybe more people are recording it and watching at another time versus watching at it’s normal time.

  • Mike

    I don’t spend much of my time watching TV. However, I do make time for this show. I agree with what several other people have said about it’s current time slot. I have to believe that the people that would watch this show are in attendance of their local high school’s football game and therefore are missing this excellent show. I have a DVR so I record it and watch it the next night. Pick a new night or maybe start tracking the DVR viewership–maybe more people are recording it and watching at another time versus watching at it’s normal time.

  • Mandi

    I don’t mean to be defeatist, but I’ve been interested in this show, but decided not to watch it because its ratings were so low. I’ve got my heart broken too many times with getting really into ‘fan favorite’ shows that eventually get axed by the networks (sniff sniff Veronica Mars). I might check it out on dvd, but unless it seems it’s going to get picked up again, I’m not going to waste my time.

  • Mandi

    I don’t mean to be defeatist, but I’ve been interested in this show, but decided not to watch it because its ratings were so low. I’ve got my heart broken too many times with getting really into ‘fan favorite’ shows that eventually get axed by the networks (sniff sniff Veronica Mars). I might check it out on dvd, but unless it seems it’s going to get picked up again, I’m not going to waste my time.

  • Susan

    I know what you mean, Mandi. I didn’t get into this show until they reran some episodes in the summer. I bought the DVD and fell in love with it, knowing that it was ratings challenged. Though, I’ve been through it many times before (Felicity, Reunion, American Dreams), it is always very painful when favorite shows get canceled. That said, I am still glad I watched it and urge you to try it out because it is a great show if you like realistic drama.

    To address someone else’s point about a move to cable. If 3-4 million followed the show to cable, it would be considered a huge hit. Tell Me You Love Me gets under 1 million viewers, but was still renewed for a second season by HBO. It’s rare that a cable show draws 10 million +. I think CW might be the best move though.

  • Susan

    I know what you mean, Mandi. I didn’t get into this show until they reran some episodes in the summer. I bought the DVD and fell in love with it, knowing that it was ratings challenged. Though, I’ve been through it many times before (Felicity, Reunion, American Dreams), it is always very painful when favorite shows get canceled. That said, I am still glad I watched it and urge you to try it out because it is a great show if you like realistic drama.

    To address someone else’s point about a move to cable. If 3-4 million followed the show to cable, it would be considered a huge hit. Tell Me You Love Me gets under 1 million viewers, but was still renewed for a second season by HBO. It’s rare that a cable show draws 10 million +. I think CW might be the best move though.

  • Susan

    I know what you mean, Mandi. I didn’t get into this show until they reran some episodes in the summer. I bought the DVD and fell in love with it, knowing that it was ratings challenged. Though, I’ve been through it many times before (Felicity, Reunion, American Dreams), it is always very painful when favorite shows get canceled. That said, I am still glad I watched it and urge you to try it out because it is a great show if you like realistic drama.

    To address someone else’s point about a move to cable. If 3-4 million followed the show to cable, it would be considered a huge hit. Tell Me You Love Me gets under 1 million viewers, but was still renewed for a second season by HBO. It’s rare that a cable show draws 10 million +. I think CW might be the best move though.

  • Susan

    I know what you mean, Mandi. I didn’t get into this show until they reran some episodes in the summer. I bought the DVD and fell in love with it, knowing that it was ratings challenged. Though, I’ve been through it many times before (Felicity, Reunion, American Dreams), it is always very painful when favorite shows get canceled. That said, I am still glad I watched it and urge you to try it out because it is a great show if you like realistic drama.

    To address someone else’s point about a move to cable. If 3-4 million followed the show to cable, it would be considered a huge hit. Tell Me You Love Me gets under 1 million viewers, but was still renewed for a second season by HBO. It’s rare that a cable show draws 10 million +. I think CW might be the best move though.

  • Kevin J-M

    Why is Wednesday a bad night? A lot of highly rated shows are on Wednesday. It’s not the night or time slot–is it that people can’t figure out why a show called “Friday Night” is broadcast on a Wednesday? I think it should move to Fridays at 8–on Fox. It couldn’t possibly do worse in that slot on that network than Next Great American Band is doing.

  • Kevin J-M

    Why is Wednesday a bad night? A lot of highly rated shows are on Wednesday. It’s not the night or time slot–is it that people can’t figure out why a show called “Friday Night” is broadcast on a Wednesday? I think it should move to Fridays at 8–on Fox. It couldn’t possibly do worse in that slot on that network than Next Great American Band is doing.

  • Jen

    FNL is a great show. I know a lot of people that watch it and are as addicted to it as we are. Perhaps with the use of DVRs (which is what we use), ratings just aren’t accurate. I really hope they don’t cancel it.

  • Jen

    FNL is a great show. I know a lot of people that watch it and are as addicted to it as we are. Perhaps with the use of DVRs (which is what we use), ratings just aren’t accurate. I really hope they don’t cancel it.

  • Jen

    FNL is a great show. I know a lot of people that watch it and are as addicted to it as we are. Perhaps with the use of DVRs (which is what we use), ratings just aren’t accurate. I really hope they don’t cancel it.

  • Jen

    FNL is a great show. I know a lot of people that watch it and are as addicted to it as we are. Perhaps with the use of DVRs (which is what we use), ratings just aren’t accurate. I really hope they don’t cancel it.

  • Ryan

    I agree a lot with several of the other comments above. FNL is a great drama. It’s hard to understand why I watch it, since I haven’t been in High School since 1995, but it’s well written and lures you in each week with a myriad of plot twists. Also, I have to agree with Mike and Jen about the DVR usage and other commenters about the bad time slot on Fridays. I record it each week and almost always watch it another night, so maybe the ratings are understated. Although the show’s name makes you think Friday would be the right night to air, I think it’s a poor choice if they hope to boost ratings. Really hope it doesn’t get cancelled, because it’s a great show (one of my favorites) and I only watch a few network programs a week.

  • Ryan

    I agree a lot with several of the other comments above. FNL is a great drama. It’s hard to understand why I watch it, since I haven’t been in High School since 1995, but it’s well written and lures you in each week with a myriad of plot twists. Also, I have to agree with Mike and Jen about the DVR usage and other commenters about the bad time slot on Fridays. I record it each week and almost always watch it another night, so maybe the ratings are understated. Although the show’s name makes you think Friday would be the right night to air, I think it’s a poor choice if they hope to boost ratings. Really hope it doesn’t get cancelled, because it’s a great show (one of my favorites) and I only watch a few network programs a week.

  • Ryan

    I agree a lot with several of the other comments above. FNL is a great drama. It’s hard to understand why I watch it, since I haven’t been in High School since 1995, but it’s well written and lures you in each week with a myriad of plot twists. Also, I have to agree with Mike and Jen about the DVR usage and other commenters about the bad time slot on Fridays. I record it each week and almost always watch it another night, so maybe the ratings are understated. Although the show’s name makes you think Friday would be the right night to air, I think it’s a poor choice if they hope to boost ratings. Really hope it doesn’t get cancelled, because it’s a great show (one of my favorites) and I only watch a few network programs a week.

  • Ryan

    I agree a lot with several of the other comments above. FNL is a great drama. It’s hard to understand why I watch it, since I haven’t been in High School since 1995, but it’s well written and lures you in each week with a myriad of plot twists. Also, I have to agree with Mike and Jen about the DVR usage and other commenters about the bad time slot on Fridays. I record it each week and almost always watch it another night, so maybe the ratings are understated. Although the show’s name makes you think Friday would be the right night to air, I think it’s a poor choice if they hope to boost ratings. Really hope it doesn’t get cancelled, because it’s a great show (one of my favorites) and I only watch a few network programs a week.

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