Nielsen Ratings for Tue, March 4: Jericho is Toast

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March 5th, 2008

Scoreboard for Tue. March 4, 2008 FOX NBC CBS ABC CW
Total Viewers (million) 20.94 8.91 7.72 5.41 2.30
Rating/Share: Adults 18-49 7.5/18 3.3/8 2.1/5 1.8/5 1.1/3

FOX and American Idol continued its dominance, but as fans of American Idol aren't worried about the show being cancelled I'm jumping directly to Big Brother 9, Jericho and CBS bashing.

First let me be clear: fans of Big Brother and Jericho,  I love you.  I'm pretty sure Bill G. does too, but I don't like professing love on behalf of other people. But Bill and I both fancy ourselves as hack business analysts and we are trying to understand the business.   CBS' decision to continue with Big Brother 9 and Jericho in these slots doesn't make sense to me.

But the news is worse, and far worse for Jericho than it is for Big BrotherBig Brother can lay claim to at least outperforming the rerun of NCIS in the 18-49 demo and it has the following going for it:  it doesn't cost anything to make (relatively speaking) and it has the good fortune, at least on Tuesdays, of facing off against According to Jim and Carpoolers on ABC

Jericho doesn't have those luxuries, and finished dead last in viewers and the 18-49 demo in a time period won by a rerun of Law & Order: SVU on NBC.

It's great that the PR flacks at CBS are trumpeting all the alternative/online video sources for watching Jericho, but the purpose of being in business is to make money.  If you don't want to trust my analysis about the television industry in general, I don't blame you! :)  But trust me about this: CBS (nor any network) has figured out how to monetize (make money) with the online stuff yet, so none of that's particularly meaningful to the networks today in March 2008.  Someday it will be hugely meaningful, but today is not that day.

Whenever and however CBS pulls the plug, Jericho is absolutely done on CBS.  The good news for the fans is CBS seems to want to let it run its course.  I'd suggest to the fans that your problem isn't with CBS, it's with the producers of Jericho.  If you really want to save this show and have it continue, don't send nuts to CBS, send them to the producers and BEG THEM to move this show onto the CW or some other network.  Jericho would be the most popular show on the CW and could thrive there.  The producers, actors, writers and everyone else involved in Jericho would have to take a bit pay cut to do that.   They may not want to, and I won't hold that against them, but I believe the show could thrive on another network, just not a major broadcast network (sorry CW, you're not major, but I love, love, love me some Supernatural anyway!).

In other news, the premiere of FOX's New Amsterdam was the second most watched thing on television last night even though it lost more than half the lead-in from Idol and then lost even more in the second half hour.

Today's (as well as the next few days) worth of data were half-hourly, and though that is sort of a pain in the butt for me to clean that up and make it look pretty in the table below, it is a lot more informative.  Jericho has great fans because they stay the whole hour!  Jericho gained a few viewers the second half hour.  But that's the only good news.   If you really want to save your show, beg the producers to take the necessary pay cuts (it could still be profitable!) and move it to CW or one of the cable nets.  It's just not a show that makes sense (from a business perspective) on a major broadcast television network.

Update 3/5 11:20a PST: One of the commenters brought up that I should've mentioned that election results were a big deal yesterday in some states and impacted ratings.  I agree, I should've mentioned it.  Now I have.  Sadly, barring a miraculous amount of new viewers in the coming weeks, my opinion remains Jericho is toast on CBS regardless.

The night's full (half hourly) details:

Time Network Show Viewers (Millons) 18-49 Rating/Share HH Rating
8:00 FOX American Idol 26.5 9.7/25 15.2
  CBS NCIS (Repeat) 10.5 2.1/5 6.9
  NBC The Biggest Loser 6.96 2.8/7 4.5
  ABC Just for Laughs 5.04 1.3/3 3.4
  CW Americas Next Top Model (Repeat) 1.64 0.7/2 1.2
8:30 FOX American Idol 29.95 11.2/27 16.7
  CBS NCIS (Repeat) 10.74 2.2/5 7
  NBC The Biggest Loser 7.41 3.2/8 4.7
  ABC Just for Laughs (Repeat) 4.83 1.4/3 3.2
  CW Americas Next Top Model (Repeat) 1.57 0.7/2 1.1
9:00 FOX New Amsterdam (Premiere) 14.94 5.1/12 9
  CBS Big Brother 9 7.08 2.6/6 4.6
  NBC The Biggest Loser 9.56 3.8/9 6
  ABC According to Jim 5.58 1.9/5 3.7
  CW One Tree Hill 2.92 1.4/3 2
9:30 FOX New Amsterdam (Premiere) 12.37 4.0/10 7.5
  CBS Big Brother 9 6.25 2.4/6 4.1
  NBC The Biggest Loser 10.76 4.4/11 6.9
  ABC Carpoolers 4.17 1.5/4 2.8
  CW One Tree Hill 3.05 1.5/4 2.1
10:00 ABC Primetime: What Would You Do? 6.3 2.2/6 4.4
  CBS Jericho 5.85 1.8/5 3.9
  NBC Law & Order: SVU (Repeat) 9.37 2.9/8 6.5
10:30 ABC Primetime: What Would You Do? 6.52 2.3/7 4.6
  CBS Jericho 5.91 1.8/5 4
  NBC Law & Order: SVU (Repeat) 9.41 2.9/8 6.5

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

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  • Karen

    Someone posted today on how hers was a Nielsen family but her ex-husband (now) controlled the remote, switching constantly between sports channels and she had to watch her programs at other houses. How often are Nielsen views actually controlled by one member? But it is moot. I will be told that Nielsen's are the only measures and that's just how it is.

    BTW, the ratings dip two Tuesdays apart. Weren't those BOTH election Tuesdays? Is that suspicious at all looking at the bounce? It seems to me *something* is affecting them other than disinterest.

  • Jake

    It is amazing the 2nd largest state in population with the number one tv market in Dallas/Fort Worth was watching election results so how do the numbers not change. Also large areas like Cleveland and Cinicinati were watching election results. So all this data that they sell ads with and base which shows get kept and which ones are canceled. How can someone pay millions of dollars for ad space if the numbers are skewed like this?

  • Rob

    “Jericho” aired in Houston, Texas last night from 2:30 am to 3:30 am. All network affiliates aired election returns in prime time rather than the last hour of network prime time. I expect the same was true throughout Ohio and Texas. Of course Jericho’s competition didn’t air either, but it could explain Jericho’s poor performance relative to last week, in which the entire network carried the show.

  • Karen

    I think that the ratings have stayed remarkably stable (even if not the CSI/LOST type of ratings they have been stable.) and it has nothing to do with politicizing anything (which IMO this is much more about giving up freedoms little by little or living like a large number of the world than Iraq). It has much more to do with scheduling, huge hiatus', running the reruns early in the summer and premiering the second season mid-spring and being a serial.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    Jake it’s not amazing. It is what it is and it’s also reasonable to use these numbers anyway. Were Jericho’s numbers impacted? Sure. But so were Law & Order: SVU’s.

    The problem with Jericho isn’t how advertising sales are done or how Nielsen works. The problem for Jericho is that not enough people watch it for it to be on a broadcast network like CBS. You could have added back in a million and a half viewers — it still doesn’t belong on CBS.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    To many people’s points above, since the election shows were not on the national broadcast networks they don’t appear in our overnight broadcast results.

    Any local election shows would not appear in any information we see.

    I’m sure there were people watching either cable news or local election shows [in those states], and they did reduce numbers somewhat, but it’s hard to know by how much.

    We will have cable news results for last night posted by Friday, so at least you can see how many folks were watching cable news in primetime last night.

  • frankj

    Robert, I'm curious about your take on the New Amsterdam pilot.

    I'm assuming if the show does okay it'll find it's audience level in the next few episodes, but the drop off of a few million viewers at the half hour has me wondering about other premiers. Did the audience for Sarah Connor drop off or gain during the premier? I know that it went up slightly during the finale, but that was well after it had settled down with a core audience.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    let me add on — it’s better for you fans to be practical and encourage the producers to take the show elsewhere. Perhaps one of my all-time favorte shows was Stargate: SG1. It started on showtime and ended on SciFi. They figured out how to make money doing the show via cable, syndication and DVDs.

    I LOVED the show. I miss Thor, Jack O, Daniel Jackson, etc. I like that it all continues on in some way with Stargate Atlantis.

    So what I am saying is I LOVE Stargate as I know MILLIONS of others do. But, it still would not have made any sense on a major broadcast network.

    Jericho doesn’t either. It’s not about whether the show is good, or whether it has millions of fans.

  • Robert Hawkins

    I know of several people who quit watching Jericho because of the Iraq plot line. Blaming the Nielsen system is pointless. Look at NCIS Tuesday at 8pm- a show that is positive on the military – it gets nearly 11 million viewers running up against American Idol. When Jericho was up against Idol at 8PM Wednesdays it was lucky to manage 8 million viewers for a first run episode, let alone a re-run. Jericho averaged 8-9 million for 2nd part of Season 2. This season, it was lucky to get 7 million. 1-2 million viewers from the stable season 1 ratings vanished. The plot line is the likely answer.

  • Lily

    You said: CBS (nor any network) has figured out how to monetize (make money) with the online stuff yet, so none of that’s particularly meaningful to the networks today in March 2008. Someday it will be hugely meaningful, but today is not that day.

    I disagree. I think today is the day. How can you say they are not making money with it’s online success? That to me, is amazing. As a stockholder, I’m quite happy with what I see.

    I think some of you that analyze are just like nielsen, not up to par yet with new media, which is where the future of Television is going. Right. Now.

    Sure, Jericho is not a killer show against one that has been around for NINE seasons in terms of nielsen ratings, but it has one foot in the network and the other in new media. Can Law & Order: SVU say that? Nope. How many shows CAN say that? There aren’t many.

    Whoever decides to embrace those type of shows are going to come out the leader in the industry. Bet on it!

    Les Moonves does plan to pursue New Media. Imagine that..

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    Lily, I’ve been watching video on my ipod for over 2 years. I can beam internet tv to my 61″ widescreen.

    Internet viewing is NOT a profit center today. That doesn’t mean Les and other’s shouldn’t pursue it. I of course believe they should. Since it can’t yet effectively be measured, advertisers won’t pay much for it. Until that changes, it’s just the way it is.

  • Lily

    No the answer is this: If one little show, Jericho, can prove the nielsen rating system is flawed, down goes the monopoly. It's really that simple.

    nielsen numbers flip flop all over

    online buzz remains consistent and continues to grow.

    You tell me what's going on.

  • sheikyerbouti

    The problem with serial dramas like Jericho is that there are many people ,like me, who wont watch if they missed first few episodes. I thought the show sounded intriguing when I heard about it last year but never got around to watching it. However, I caught a few minutes of episode #1 season #2 and bought the box set for first season. Now Im up to date. Also the first serial Ive watched in its entirety and looks like its toast.

  • http://www.theshortbusriders.org Brian

    I once again watched it online (and had it recorded on my tivo, but my tivo has trouble recording CBS)

    I wish CBS would post how many people watched it online, to at least get a better idea of who is watching it.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    Frank, I didn't watch the premiere of New Amsterdam (largely because local TV critic Tim Goodman, whose tastes very often mirror my own crushed it like a bug).

    Sarah experienced something similar though she had higher ratings in the Sunday night premiere following a football game (18.29 million) than she did the next night (10.07 m) in her regular time slot after Prison Break. I suspect ~8 million is the core audience for Sarah.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    Lily, here's what's going on:

    online buzz does not = $$
    Nielsen ratings points DO = $$

    Someday online ratings points WILL = $$

    Someday is not today. By the way, I watched about 8 episodes of Jericho on my iPhone. I'm pretty sure I have the new media figured out just fine. I had my first TiVo DVR in 1998, how about you?

  • Karen

    Question, when CBS has the rights to the show, how is it the producers fault if Jericho is canceled. It appears the producers *have been trying* to get Jericho picked up elsewhere, but I’m guessing they have to be on a short leash having to wait for word from CBS and then get a deal with another network and retain at least a decent amount of people on the show before they move on. It sounds like a near impossible feat to me. The producers did not stick this show on at 10pm AFTER Big Brother (you telling me those people will turn their brains back on for Jericho?) on an American Idol night. No, it is their part that the came through with a *brilliant* season on a slashed budget, less time and with only 7 episodes. So, I think it is very unfair to be saying the producers aren’t doing anything or should be doing more to save the show.

  • Dave Mueller

    Well, the ratings are what they are, and I don't think directing umbrage at Robert does any good. He's just the messenger of what happens to be bad news.

    I strongly question the ACCURACY of the Nielsen #'s as far as giving an accurate picture of how many people are actually watching Jericho, but the numbers themselves aren't very good.

    Jericho is an absolute hit as far as I can tell with online presence, water cooler buzz, etc. but the ratings just don't show it.

    I disagree with the opinion that the “Ravenwood” storyline has cost it significant viewers. I'm conservative politically but I can accept it for what it is….a great story.

    I think there is still hope for the show, but it is hanging by a thin thread right now. I think another week equal to week 3 would have saved it. Now, I am not very positive.

    Let's hope SciFi, TNT, USA, or one of those channels will have the foresight to pick it up. It would be a big hit for any of them.

  • Dave Mueller

    It is strange though to see high ratings for the show EVERYWHERE you look EXCEPT Nielsen.

    Tivo Season Pass ratings….very high. Direct TV live ratings….quite good. Itunes ratings…great. Online viewings….very good. Nielsens….mediocre at best. Which one of these things doesn't fit???

  • Karen

    So again, can you tell me why these shows are digitized if they don't bring in any revenue? Why are the networks allowing streaming, iTune downloads etc. Is it just charity?

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