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Nielsen Ratings for Thur, Feb 28: FOX Cannot Be Stopped

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February 29th, 2008

Scoreboard for Thurs. Feb. 28, 2008 FOX CBS ABC NBC CW
Total Viewers (million) 20.23 11.48 8.50 5.82 1.67
rating/Share: Adults 18-49 7.2/18 3.3/9 3.2/8 2.5/6 0.6/2


small-simon.jpgAny day ending with a Y that they'd run American Idol surely spells victory for FOX, so they're running it not once, not twice, but three times a week.  The Thursday results shows are less-watched and for a shorter time period, but that least-watched one hour still pulls in more viewers than four airings of Big Brother combined.

Last night's LOST might have been one of my favorite episodes ever.  A mad (ok, eccentric) scientist and a time travel love story.  That was one of the most interesting treatments of time-travel I've ever seen.  I LOVED it, and I'm sure at least a few million others did too, but none the less Lost lost in total viewers to Don't Forget the Lyrics, though by a whisker Lost won the 18-49 demographic. 

Last year many episodes of Lost left me saying "meh".  Meh. Meh. Meh. Meh.  But I'm glad I hung on, Season 4 has been outstanding, but despite my opinion, ratings for Lost continue to erode.  This week less than 13 million (12.85m) watched according to the overnights.  I hope there isn't some truism  where if I love the show it's either getting cancelled or moving to cable.

Here's a brief recap of the timeslot winners:

8pm: Idol bests everything (AI had more than 2x the viewers and 2x the 18-49 viewers as distant 2nd place Survivor: Micronesia, followed by repeats of the Office, Lost and Smallville)

9pm: Don't Forget they Lyrics bests Lost, CSI, and Celebrity Apprentice

10pm: A repeat of Without a Trace dominates for CBS, with Eli Stone pulling better numbers than Lipstick Jungle

See the night's full details:

Time Network Show Viewers (Millons) 18-49 Rating/Share HH Rating
8:00 CBS Survivor: Micronesia 12.47 4.2/11 7.1
  FOX American Idol 25.91 9.1/24 14.2
  ABC Lost (Repeat) 5.18 1.6/4 4
  NBC The Office (2 repeats 8p-9p) 4.09 1.8/5 3.1
  CW Smallville (Repeat) 1.8 0.7/2 1.8
           
9:00 CBS CSI (Repeat) 11.6 3.0/7 8
  FOX Don't Forget the Lyrics 14.56 5.2/13 8.1
  ABC Lost 12.85 5.4/13 7.9
  NBC Celebrity Apprentice 7.62 3.1/8 5.3
  CW Reaper (Repeat) 1.53 0.6/2 1.4
           
10:00 CBS Without a Trace (Repeat) 10.36 3.3/9 7.6
  ABC Eli Stone 7.46 2.7/7 5.2
  NBC Lipstick Jungle 5.75 2.5/7 4.2

Nielsen Ratings Source: Nielsen Media Research. Full night's results available via Marc Berman/Mediaweek.

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  • Tracy

    Survivor: Micronesia is the best show of 8pm hour than American Idol. Last Night episode has things changing in Survivor and things are going to get more intense and interesting. People should watch Survivor: Micronesia.

  • Brian

    Lost is easily my favorite TV drama ever…

    BUT, from talking to people about the show, there really is a cap to how many viewers it can pull in each week.

    Lost’s potential viewers can be pooled into 4 groups:
    1. Diehards – will watch every week – probably 10 million people.
    2. In-and-Outs – watch occasionally but do not plan their schedule around seeing the show – watch every other week or so – probably 3-7 million people.
    3. Flakes – people who started out watching but got confused or frustrated and stopped watching – probably another 5-10 million people who are not watching anymore.
    4. Ignorants – people who never gave it a chance and have never seen it – the rest of the population.

    Lost’s problem is that it has so much depth that it’s hard to pick it up after one episode in the 4th season. In order for anyone to start watching the show, they need to start from the beginning with DVDs.

    ABC needs to seriously consider putting the first 3 seasons into syndication. This would allow the 4th group of people to start watching the show without having to spend $200+ for the DVDs.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    Brian, the same reasons that make it hard to pick up Lost mid-stream would make it terrible for syndication [that plus the 60 min run time].

    Look at any of our Top 20 Syndicated shows. Just 2 hour long dramas, and neither of them really has any back story requirement to understand what’s going on.

  • Daryl

    I can understand Lost not gaining in viewership, but how in the world can it be losing viewers? This is the best season yet – IMO. It has to be attributed to DVR/Tivo.

  • http://www.tv.com/users/vendbien/profile.php?tag=login;myprofile Jon V

    Bill – There is a real bottom line on determining whether a show is profitable for a network.

    How much does a 1/2 hour of programming cost to buy or put on the air vs. how much advertising money can it bring in p/hh.

    If a show cost $4 million per 1/2 hour and I sell $6m in advertising, I’ve made $2m for the 30 minutes. If I can get one hour for only $3m and I sell only $8m for the hour, I’ve made $2.5m per 30 minutes.

    That’s why ‘According to Jim’ can stay on when another, better show might get cancelled. Does everyone remember when the six “Friends” wanted $1m each per episode. That had to have cost NBC $8-10m for a half hour show. But the advertisers were on board (although, not for long).

    AmIdol doesn’t cost that much to make (although Crowell prob makes a mint… he’s in a very nimble negotiating position because he has next to no ‘talent’ to pay). Popular ensemble-cast shows have their cost go up every year (through contract renegotiations) until they finally become to expensive to produce and there is no room for the network to make money.

    Cost per half hour vs. revenue per half hour – Deal or No Deal.

  • Daryl

    I can understand Lost not gaining in viewership, but how in the world can it be losing viewers? This is the best season yet – IMO. It has to be attributed to DVR/Tivo.

  • Andy

    Lost could never sustain a HUGE following because of the nature of the show. It can't gain new viewers so easily.

  • kayarn

    Lost's ratings are more or less meaningless. The show has been picked up for a 5th season. There is a 0% chance that the 6th and final season doesn't get picked up by ABC. I mean, if they don't, plenty of other networks would bend of backwards to pick up the show, complete with a ridiculous fan campaign.

    So yea, who cares. Other shows ratings are interesting because their lives depend on it. But that is not the case with LOST.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    Jon, of course I understand the economics to that extent.

    What I don't understand is why a borderline successful show, like Jericho, Cane, Friday Night Lights, Journeyman typically simply disappears if it is unable to make its economics work on broadcast TV.

    Why aren't shows like that *routinely* dropped down to a cable channel, with their costs trimmed at the same time?

    That's my understanding of what happened to Law & Order: CI's move to USA. NBC didn't want to pay Dick Wolf the “broadcast” price, but they'd pay him the “USA Cable” price, which was obviously more than the “cancelled” price.

    Why doesn't that happen more often?

  • Andy

    Lost could never sustain a HUGE following because of the nature of the show. It can’t gain new viewers so easily.

  • kayarn

    Lost’s ratings are more or less meaningless. The show has been picked up for a 5th season. There is a 0% chance that the 6th and final season doesn’t get picked up by ABC. I mean, if they don’t, plenty of other networks would bend of backwards to pick up the show, complete with a ridiculous fan campaign.

    So yea, who cares. Other shows ratings are interesting because their lives depend on it. But that is not the case with LOST.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    Jon, of course I understand the economics to that extent.

    What I don’t understand is why a borderline successful show, like Jericho, Cane, Friday Night Lights, Journeyman typically simply disappears if it is unable to make its economics work on broadcast TV.

    Why aren’t shows like that *routinely* dropped down to a cable channel, with their costs trimmed at the same time?

    That’s my understanding of what happened to Law & Order: CI’s move to USA. NBC didn’t want to pay Dick Wolf the “broadcast” price, but they’d pay him the “USA Cable” price, which was obviously more than the “cancelled” price.

    Why doesn’t that happen more often?

  • http://www.tv.com/users/vendbien/profile.php?tag=login;myprofile Jon V

    I agree with you 100% (although Dick Wolf, NBC, USA et al are an exceptional situation).

    I think the main reason is that there is not enough profit room for big production-cost shows that you mentioned to make money on cable… yet. If the networks keep losing share to cable that may change things.

    Greedy producers are once again the problem. To get 'good' talent, you have to pay. To have a 'good' show you have to have talent.
    Most producers would rather try another, new premise than continue on with a marginally profitable older show that hasn't shown that snap, crackle, pop they were hoping for. They all want that 'Next, Big Thing'. Also, no one is building new studios in Hollywood. You need a 'big' hit to keep your square footage.

    The whole landscape needs to change… and that just might happen with these new Guild contracts, the ratings on Reality, Net-to-TV (and vice-versa), cable-viewer inroads, etc. It's gonna be a new age for TV, shortly and I'm not sure I'm gonna like it if 'only' profit-margin is still the number one driver.

  • Jessica

    Why is everyone making a huge deal out of the fact that Lost is losing its viewerships. So what, some of them are even bringing out ridiculous theory as to why Lost is losing its viewership.

    The season premiere of New Lost might have sparked some positive reviews but the fact is that people are watching it on their own time. That means that some Tivo it, or download and watch it later, or even watch it online. These shows can be watched later when we have all these internet to watch it with COMMERCIAL free.

    There are other shows like American Idol, Survivor: Fans vs Favorites which are consistent or doing better week to week.

  • http://www.tv.com/users/vendbien/profile.php?tag=login;myprofile Jon V

    I agree with you 100% (although Dick Wolf, NBC, USA et al are an exceptional situation).

    I think the main reason is that there is not enough profit room for big production-cost shows that you mentioned to make money on cable… yet. If the networks keep losing share to cable that may change things.

    Greedy producers are once again the problem. To get ‘good’ talent, you have to pay. To have a ‘good’ show you have to have talent.
    Most producers would rather try another, new premise than continue on with a marginally profitable older show that hasn’t shown that snap, crackle, pop they were hoping for. They all want that ‘Next, Big Thing’. Also, no one is building new studios in Hollywood. You need a ‘big’ hit to keep your square footage.

    The whole landscape needs to change… and that just might happen with these new Guild contracts, the ratings on Reality, Net-to-TV (and vice-versa), cable-viewer inroads, etc. It’s gonna be a new age for TV, shortly and I’m not sure I’m gonna like it if ‘only’ profit-margin is still the number one driver.

  • Jessica

    Why is everyone making a huge deal out of the fact that Lost is losing its viewerships. So what, some of them are even bringing out ridiculous theory as to why Lost is losing its viewership.

    The season premiere of New Lost might have sparked some positive reviews but the fact is that people are watching it on their own time. That means that some Tivo it, or download and watch it later, or even watch it online. These shows can be watched later when we have all these internet to watch it with COMMERCIAL free.

    There are other shows like American Idol, Survivor: Fans vs Favorites which are consistent or doing better week to week.

  • Bryan

    LOST does not have to worry about rating. they are in till the end 2010 i think. They made a deal to end the show then with ABC so they can actually have a finish. ABC is committed and LOST stays even if it was under 10m people. Although as we get toward the end I think more and more people will tune in and want to see how it ends. So everyone move on and start saving Jerhico and Friday night lights They need our support!

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    Bryan, et al. When I comment on LOST's ratings, it is not relevant (at least not currently) at all in terms of being canceled. The show has well over 10m viewers still regardless, and always seems to win the 18-49 demo. Further, unlike Jericho where we can talk about the online viewing and whatnot, we KNOW Lost sells over a million units of its DVD seasons (another $50 millionish per season in revenue stream).

    However, diminishing viewers are indicative of what will likely be diminishing advertising rates and that's fair game for us to look at.

    It will be interesting to see what happens when the show moves to 10pm. While I have no doubt it will win the timeslot and the 18-49 demo, I'm curious about how many more viewers, if any, will bleed away.

    Let me reaffirm my love of LOST. Last Thursday's episode was one of the best hours (43 minutes) of episodic television I've ever seen.

  • Bryan

    LOST does not have to worry about rating. they are in till the end 2010 i think. They made a deal to end the show then with ABC so they can actually have a finish. ABC is committed and LOST stays even if it was under 10m people. Although as we get toward the end I think more and more people will tune in and want to see how it ends. So everyone move on and start saving Jerhico and Friday night lights They need our support!

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    Bryan, et al. When I comment on LOST’s ratings, it is not relevant (at least not currently) at all in terms of being canceled. The show has well over 10m viewers still regardless, and always seems to win the 18-49 demo. Further, unlike Jericho where we can talk about the online viewing and whatnot, we KNOW Lost sells over a million units of its DVD seasons (another $50 millionish per season in revenue stream).

    However, diminishing viewers are indicative of what will likely be diminishing advertising rates and that’s fair game for us to look at.

    It will be interesting to see what happens when the show moves to 10pm. While I have no doubt it will win the timeslot and the 18-49 demo, I’m curious about how many more viewers, if any, will bleed away.

    Let me reaffirm my love of LOST. Last Thursday’s episode was one of the best hours (43 minutes) of episodic television I’ve ever seen.

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