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

    So just why have networks allowed DVDs, iTunes, and streaming to happen with shows if it is not monetized in some fashion? They can’t possibly be doing it out of generosity. I admit to that data is data, but it’s never going to be. that. day. Until people get ticked enough to push it. I’ve said it before, I’m done with viewing current television if this goes because everytime I like a show passionately, it is yanked away from me like a spiteful parent pulling away the second half of a candy bar that was originally gleefully given.

  • Lily

    Nielsen is not effectively measuring now. Every measurement they take requires human interaction on the part of participants.

    Press a button. Fill out a diary. Oops, you’re watching something but you forgot to press that flashing button on your nielsen remote to indicate you are in fact sitting in front of your TV. oh well. That person just cost some show millions of viewers.

    Not to mention the amount of boxes out (what, 25,000?) in comparison to total households with television sets. 112 million? That’s a joke, right?

    My point is the whole human error factor is to great to be ignored – nielsen measurement techniques are too antiquated for today’s markets. Every household wants to be counted and the outcry for that is getting louder everyday.

  • Robert Hawkins

    I think this show lost alot of fans who are politically conservative with the over the top comparison of Kansas to Iraq. Battlestar Galacticas rating tanked after their Season 3 when they did a whole season comparing Caprica to Iraq. With all the anti-Iraq war movies bombing at the box office and what happened with BSG, one would think CBS and the makers of Jericho would have learned from that. Guess not. Hopefully they can get on cable somewhere and turn the show around and not alienate a significant chunk of its fan base.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    Jay, TiVo represents less than 20% of the overall DVR base and the season pass information reflects “recorded”, not watched.

    3000 downloads of Gossip Girl will shoot it to the top of itunes.

    I didn't see the DirecTV ratings — if you can point me to an official source, I'd appreciate it.

    Karen, the shows are digital to begin with now, distributing them online comes at no extra expense really (outside bandwidth, which CBS is stingy with, like NBC the quality of its video pales in comparison to FOX and ABC's online video offerings).

    It's not charity. It's just still very new, and still very marginal in terms of where and how most people still watch shows (which is ON tv). One thing sorely lacking for now on the internet is:

    1. measurement of how many people watched
    2. measurement of HOW LONG they watched
    3. demographic information

    Advertisers need all 3 to feel comfortable paying high CPM. CBS is only providing #1 of the above. That's not a function of CBS being bad, it's just a function of how immature the online video space is. As it matures it will be a very, very, very big deal.

    But in that world, it will be possible for a show like Jericho to find a nice audience without ever having been on TV to begin with.

  • frankj

    Most of the reviews I've seen of New Amsterdam were bad. It just seems too disjointed a plotline.

    Not that I'm outright rooting for the show to fail, but I am curious if Fox isn't going to start missing Sarah Connor's 18-49yr numbers before long.

  • 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://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.

  • Dave Mueller

    I know that TIVO's Season Pass info means it was recorded, not necessarily watched. However, I'd still say that there is a high correlation between # of people recording and # of people watching.

    Even if TIVO is less than 20% of the DVR base, that's a lot higher sampling than Nielsen, which is, what, 0.1% of the total viewership base, at most?

    I have no official source for the Direct TV ratings. On the Jericho message boards, some Direct TV subscribers say that there's a “what's hot” button or something similar that keeps track of overall # of Direct TV viewers viewing a certain show vs. other shows for a certain time zone. According to them, Jericho finished a strong #2 behind L&O on the East Coast, and was #1 in the Central time zone. Nothing official, and I don't know if there is anything official.

  • 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?

  • Seymour

    Yes charity. The producers worked very hard to come through with a brilliant season on a slashed budget, less time and with only 7 episodes, so noone would make any money from the viewers who watche it online. It the new trend.

  • 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?

  • Karen

    Well, to be honest, the people ON Jericho really did do a lot of charity work if you ask me. Not many people would come back with paycuts.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    Karen it would be great if there were some reasonable stats out for shows I know that do well (because they keep bringing them back!) on cable like the Stargate franchise. How much are the writers/actors/directors paid vs. the studio and how does that compare to a broadcast tv show.

    I think the paycuts I'm talking about are of along the lines of: would you work for $330,000 a year instead of $400,000. Hardly charity work from my standpoint ;)

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