Nielsen Ratings Friday May 2, 2008: CBS and Moonlight Are Consistent

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May 3rd, 2008

Scoreboard for Fri. May 2, 2008 CBS NBC ABC CW FOX
Total Viewers (million) 9.11 5.73 4.72 3.90 3.36
Rating/Share: Adults 18-49 2.2/7 1.7/6 1.2/4 1.2/4 1.1/4

CBS took another Friday night during May sweeps and the week looks pretty much similar to last week across the board except that ABC ran an extra 20/20 instead of America's Funniest Home Videos.   And FOX was again dead last, beaten out by the CW and its outgoing WWE product, Friday Night Smackdown!  The CW's loss will be MyNetTV's gain.

Only CBS had any shows with a 2.0 or better in the 18-49 demographic.  Ghost Whisperer (2.3/8), Moonlight (2.1/6) and Numb3rs (2.4/7) all cleared the 2.0 bar.  No other shows did. Technically the 10pm hour of Dateline hit 2.0, but if you take Dateline over its full 9p-11p run, it didn't.

While not quite as awful as Saturdays its getting there other than CBS.  Sure, more younger people aren't at home on Fridays, but the reason the shows other than CBS don't pull better demo numbers is the programming. 

I know Marc Berman didn't have glowing things to say about on the bubble Moonlight (hey, at least he didn't call it a "loser"!).   The thing Moonlight probably has going for it is fairly remarkable consistency among its fan base. A four month hiatus didn't cause a drop of 2 million viewers. If that had happened we'd be writing the obituary already.  But the fans all came back. It beat everything it was up against on broadcast television and won the 18-49 demo for its timeslot.  Just like last week. These are all positive signs.

The only thing that should really concern Moonlight fans is CBS thinking something like this, "OK, no matter what we stick on at 9pm it loses a million viewers from 8pm and all of them and more come back at 10pm.  Can we put something on at 9pm that will perform as well as Moonlight and be cheaper?"

I'm hampered by not knowing the cost of producing Moonlight.  I know they could stick on The Price is Right and it would probably do fairly consistently in viewers, but at least a little worse than Moonlight in the demographic.   But you can't really syndicate repeats of game shows, or sell DVDs of game shows.  You can with scripted dramas and that winds up meaning extra revenue.

So the only way I see CBS pulling the plug on Moonlight is if they think they have a scripted drama that will perform as well or better that can be made for less money.  I'm more of a "a bird in the hand..." guy, but we'll have to wait just a little bit longer to see if CBS thinks as reasonably as I do.

Friday night's details:


Time Net Show Viewers (Millons) 18-49 Rating/Share
8:00 ABC 20/20 6.25 1.6/6
  CBS Ghost Whisperer 9.21 2.3/8
  NBC Most Outrageous Moments (R ) 5.02 1.4/5
  CW Friday Night Smackdown! (8p-10p) 3.9 1.2/4
  FOX Are We There Yet 8p-10p (R ) 3.36 1.1/4
9:00 ABC Duel 3.86 1.0/3
  CBS Moonlight 7.92 2.1/6
  NBC Dateline 5.65 1.7/5
10:00 ABC 20/20 4.04 1.2/4
  CBS Numb3rs 10.21 2.4/7
  NBC Dateline 6.53 2.0/6

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

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