New TV Series Performance and Prognosis

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October 6th, 2008

MAGNA Global is out with some new data on the neseason and particularly the new shows. Here are a few tidbits:

CBS has certainly had the best start when it comes to its returning series. Several of the network’s key programs have started out better than last season (Criminal Minds, CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, NCIS, How I Met Your Mother, Two and a Half Men, 48 Hours Mystery), while some others are only down marginally (Big Bang Theory, Survivor). Whether this holds up remains to be seen, but CBS couldn’t have asked for a much better start to the new season.

FOX has had a decent start to the season, as its returning Sunday animated comedies, The Simpsons, Family Guy, and American Dad, are outpacing last year, as is Bones.

ABC and NBC are not having the same success with returning series, as virtually all their non-football series are down from a year ago. Again, it’s too early to say this will continue, but it’s not a promising sign for either network.

ABC’s biggest declines come from their second-season series, which were cut short by the writers’ strike, and the network is sort of promoting as new (Dirty Sexy Money, Private Practice, Pushing Daisies). Of its more successful returning series, Dancing With the Stars, Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, and Brothers & Sisters, the declines are smaller (less than 10%). Ugly Betty, however, was down sharply in its premiere.

NBC’s problems run just as deep, as Heroes, Law & Order: SVU, E.R., and My Name is Earl were all down by more than 15 percent among adults 18-49. So far, only The Office and Biggest Loser are holding their own.

CW’s Gossip Girl is up significantly over last year at this time, and Supernatural is up slightly. Its only other two returning series to debut at this writing, America’s Next Top Model and Smallville are down a bit.

And relating to the recent discussion on our site about ad rates and performance for Fringe some interesting observations:

MAGNA’s research shows that the audience retention of Fringe’s commercial pods have so far been significantly greater than the typical FOX drama (helped no doubt by the network announcing that ?Fringe will return in 60, 70, or 90 seconds? before each national commercial pod).

We looked at Fringe in relation to other FIX dramas the week of September 22nd. Here are some of our key findings:

Fringe contained less than half the commercial load of the typical FOX drama.

Even more significant, the average length of Fringe’s national commercial pods was only 40% of the typical FOX drama. That’s because when FOX airs local commercials, they are part of its normal commercial pods, but in Fringe, the reduced pods are exclusively national, with a local pod broken out separately. So while the average commercial pod in other dramas was 3 minutes, 16 seconds, the average national commercial pod in Fringe was just 1 minute, 18 seconds.

Looking at Live + Same Day ratings, the average adult 18-49 rating fall-off from the program segment to the commercial pod for the typical FOX drama was 15%. For Fringe it was just 7%. This is a major improvement in audience retention.

You can download the entire report here. It also contains their own prognosis for the new shows. Compare them to our Renew/Cancel Index.

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