MAGNA Primetime TV Update Packed With Information

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October 15th, 2008

MAGNA Global out with another prime-time update today. Lots of interesting detail, often with more information on individual shows than we see directly from Nielsen and cable network data we never see.

One thing that continues this season to date is that prime-time top 5 English broadcast network viewership is down 7-9% whether you look at Live, Live+SD or Live+7, and ad supported cable viewership is up 12-14% for the same period.

Here are some highlights:

In the first three weeks of the new season we see new programs trying to emerge as hits and
other returning series try to rebound from long hiatuses due to the Writers’ Strike. FOX and CW
were trying to get a head start by premiering most of its programs in the first two weeks of
September, while the other waited until the actual start of the season, the week of September
22nd or later. Here are the key stories so far:

Overall television usage was up compared to a year ago on Live, Live plus Same Day,
and Live plus 7 Days. The largest increases, around 3-4 percent, were among older
demos (adults 35+ & 50+).

FOX is the only network experiencing gains from last season, mainly due to the success of
its new drama Fringe. But its only other new scripted program of the season, Do Not
Disturb, was quickly cancelled after only three telecasts (the only program canceled so
far this season).

ABC is just slightly down from last year. ABC was hoping for success in its Wednesday
lineup of sophomore series that were not given a full season because of the writers’ strike,
but Pushing Daisies, Private Practice, and Dirty Sexy Money are all down from last year.

CBS is only slightly down compared to 2007, but is slowly increasing as some of its series
had later premiere dates than other networks. New drama, The Mentalist, has been
performing well and has potential to be classified as a hit. Eleventh Hour had a strong
premiere, but we will see if it can keep it up. Other returning series, including its flagship
program, CSI, have gotten off to a solid start.

NBC has had a rough start to the new season as its new and returning series have not
made strong debuts. Poor performances by new series Knight Rider and America’s
Toughest Jobs have led to decreases of 17 percent among adults 18-49 and even higher
(-20%) among women 18-49. One bright spot is its new comedy Kath & Kim had a good
premiere, building upon its My Name is Earl lead-in.

CW is experiencing slight gains among its key target, women 18-34, due to strong
performances by Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, and 90210. We cannot say the same about
Privileged, which has struggled to deliver a 1.0 among adults 18-49 every week since its
premiere. After two weeks of MRC-produced Sunday night line-up, we see all programs
down from last year’s time period.

The report has a massive amount of data and you can download it here.

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