"Chuck's" Return Pleases Fans, Will Its Ratings?

Categories: Broadcast TV

Written By

April 27th, 2010

Monday night Chuck returned after a couple of weeks of reruns for its final six episodes of the season. "Chuck vs. the Honeymooners" was sure to make fans happy, even the "shippers" (perhaps, especially the "shippers") but will the ratings keep the fans in good spirits?

While I definitely agree with the Renew/Cancel Index for currently having Chuck listed as being in some danger of being canceled, I disagree with Bill on some of this:

With the Parenthood announcement, Chuck is the only NBC show who’s future is in doubt to me, and on the off chance that its ratings recover as they did last season, I’m holding it out of the remainder bin for one more week. Make no mistake, the ratings have to come back, or the show is history. They did come back about 20% at the end of last season. This season, who knows.

Specifically I disagree with "Make no mistake, the ratings have to come back, or the show is history."

For me,  Chuck is still a bubble show even with its most recent ratings., If the price is right, I could definitely see NBC ordering up 13 episodes as schedule filler even at the 2.1 rating with adults 18-49 that it got with its two most recent episodes.  The two episodes before that it was definitely in more perilous territory with a 1.9 adults 18-49 rating (yes, I know "that always happens when Daylight Saving Time starts, the ratings go down and come back, that happened last, year too!").

That said,  if  Chuck doesn't average a 2.0 or better over its last six* episodes, it's probably a goner, even if Warner Bros is willing to play "Let's Make a Deal" with NBC when it comes to licensing fees.

To be clear, I'm not saying that I think Chuck is a lock to be renewed if it pulls a 2.0 adults 18-49 for all of its remaining episodes.  I don't think that.  Even at a 2.1, or even if it goes up to a 2.2, for that matter, I'd still think it was in danger.  I just don't think it's a certainty that it's history if the ratings don't improve from its most recent performance.

A 2.0 is perhaps an arbitrary line to draw, but I'm drawing it anyway.  Sure, if you're at NBC and squint enough you might look at even a 1.9 adults 18-49 rating and think "hey, that's still 46 percent better than Trauma did last week!"   But if you're a broadcast network on some level, even if only psychologically,  a sub 2.0 rating for a scripted drama that's not airing on a Friday night is probably just too bitter of a pill to swallow.  Even for lowly NBC.

I'm using the following Chuck-fan report card to analyze the ratings for Monday's episode (once I see them):

Adults 18-49 rating

  • 2.4 and above: emphatic fist pump
  • 2.3: half-hearted fist pump
  • 2.1-2.2:  white knuckle time.  But it's not irrational to hope for renewal
  • 2.0:   white knuckle time with gnawed fingernails added, but not yet completely irrational to hope for renewal
  • 1.9:  Awwwwwww.
  • 1.8 or less:  Awwwwww, oh well, enjoy the final episodes!
  • Substitute 1.8/1.9 for the less rational/former Brooklyn Dodgers fans: It's been in repeats for two weeks and NBC hardly promoted last night's episode, just wait until next week!

*Since NBC's upfront announcement will happen on May 17, it seems likely that only the first three out of the last six episodes (last night's, plus May 3 and May 10) will factor into the renewal decision.

Chuck Season 3 Ratings:

Date Episode Household Rating/Share Live+SD 18-49 Rating Live+SD Viewers (000) Live+7 18-49 Rating Live+7 Viewers (000)
January 10, 2010 Chuck vs. the Pink Slip 4.2/6 3.0 7,703
January 10, 2010 Chuck vs. the Three Words 4.0/7 2.9 7,197
January 10, 2010 Combined 4.1/7 2.9 7,450
January 11, 2010 Chuck vs. the Angel de la Muerte 4.3/7 2.6 7,355
January 18, 2010 Chuck vs. Operation Awesome 3.8/6 2.5 6,650
January 25, 2010 Chuck vs. First Class 4.1/6 2.50 6,977 3.04 8,137
February 1, 2010 Chuck vs. the Nacho Sampler 3.9/6 2.44 6,732 2.97 7,818
February 8, 2010 Chuck vs. the Mask 3.9/6 2.23 6,596 2.75 7.790
March 1, 2010 Chuck vs. the Fake Name 4.0/6 2.43 6,701 3.00 7,894
March 8, 2010 Chuck vs. the Beard 3.8/6 2.3 6,367 2.73
March 15, 2010 Chuck vs. the Tic Tac 3.6/6 1.9 5,849
March 22, 2010 Chuck vs. the Final Exam 3.3/5 1.9 5.461 2.46 6,665
March 29, 2010 Chuck vs. the American Hero 3.3/5 2.1 5.679 2.57 6,667
April 5, 2010 Chuck vs. the Other Guy 3.3/5 2.1 5.792 2.61 6.822
April 26, 2010 Chuck vs. the Honeymooners
May 3, 2010 Chuck vs. the Role Models
May 10, 2010 Chuck vs. the Tooth
May 17, 2010 Chuck vs. the Living Dead
May 24, 2010 Chuck vs. the Subway
May 24, 2010 Chuck vs. the Ring: Part 2

(the updates to the table above are kept here)

Nielsen Ratings Data: ©2010 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved.

 
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