Mythbusting: Would Broadcast Networks Kill for Ratings like The Closer's?

Categories: Cable TV

Written By

June 17th, 2009

the closer

Recently I was reading Mo Ryan’s review of TNT’s HawthoRNe when I saw this:

TNT's "The Closer" regularly gets ratings that broadcast networks -- not just NBC -- would kill for.

Let me get the drama out of the way:  NO! MYTH!  Not true.  No way.  Complete myth.

This isn’t a commentary on Mo (how can I not love a fellow fan of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine?) and it’s definitely not a commentary on HawthoRNe (I’ve never seen it) and it’s not a commentary on The Closer, either, which I sometimes watch and enjoy.  It’s a commentary on the notion that broadcast networks would kill for The Closer's numbers, because it simply isn’t true.

In fact, not even NBC would kill for The Closer’s ratings.  I’m not even sure the CW would kill for The Closer’s ratings and under current management, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t.  The Closer is many things, but a hit among young women is not one of them. In fact, it doesn't rate very well with younger people in general, which is why no broadcast network would be very interested.

In fairness to The Closer, if it were on broadcast television, say CBS, its numbers would surely be higher than they are on TNT.  High enough to be renewed?  That’s a hypothetical we will never know.  What I do know for sure is that CBS wouldn’t kill for the numbers it actually pulls and neither would any of the other broadcast networks.

This past year The Closer ran five episodes during TV’s “regular season” (the episodes aired in late January and through February). Thanks to our friends at the Television Bureau of Advertising who publish a consolidated top 100 shows among the advertising-centric adults 18-49 during the regular television season (not in the summer, unfortunately), we can see how things stack up relatively speaking.  Because of the way TVB’s site is designed, I can’t link you to the specific pages directly, but if you hunt around you can find the data, but I am including some of it below.

The episode of The Closer that aired on January 26, 2009 didn’t even make the consolidated top 100 shows with adults 18-49.  Several cable shows did that week though:

Rank Air Date Show Adults 18-49 rating
43 1/26/2009 WWE Raw 2.1
47 1/29/2009 Burn Notice 2.0
79 1/27/2009 Nip Tuck 1.5
86 1/30/2009 Monk 1.4
94 1/30/2009 Psych 1.3
95 1/28/2009 Meet the Browns 1.3
98 1/27/2009 The Office (TBS) 1.1

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And here are couple of weeks worth of information for weeks where The Closer did appear in the consolidated top 100.  I added in a couple of broadcast shows for those weeks just for comparative purposes.

Rank Air Date Show Adults 18-49 Rating
25 2/15/2009 NBA All Star Game 3.4
28 2/14/2009 NBA All Star Sat Night 3.1
53 2/15/2009 All Star Tip Off 2.1
55 2/13/2009 Dollhouse 2.0
61 2/9/2009 WWE Raw 2.0
66 2/14/2009 All Star Sat Night Tip 1.8
67 2/12/2009 Burn Notice 1.8
72 2/11/2009 Life on Mars 1.6
83 2/13/2009 Terminator: TSCC 1.4
85 2/13/2009 Monk 1.4
88 2/13/2009 Psych 1.3
89 2/9/2009 The Closer 1.3
91 2/10/2009 Nip Tuck 1.3
Rank Air Date Show Adults 18-49 Rating
43 1/26/2009 WWE Raw 2.1
47 1/29/2009 Burn Notice 2.0
79 1/27/2009 Nip Tuck 1.5
86 1/30/2009 Monk 1.4
94 1/30/2009 Psych 1.3
95 1/28/2009 Meet the Browns 1.3
98 1/27/2009 The Office (TBS) 1.1

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Rank Air Date Show Adults 18-49 Rating
37 2/23/2009 WWE Raw 2.3
65 2/25/2009 Life 1.6
67 2/27/2009 Dollhouse 1.6
70 2/26/2009 Burn Notice 1.6
80 2/23/2009 Jon & Kate Plus 8 1.4
90 2/23/2009 The Closer 1.2
91 2/27/2009 Terminator: TSCC 1.2
92 2/24/2009 Nip Tuck 1.2
99 2/23/2009 Family Guy (TBS) 1.0
 
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