Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter is on record that he'd be thrilled if the show held on to most of its great ratings growth in the second season, but figured the media and web page traffic whores would declare anything other than sustained growth as a failure.
Mr. Sutter should be thrilled so far then since SOA's held onto most of last year's numbers, dipping only 5% with the advertiser coveted adults 18-49 versus last year. Last night's second episode pulled a 1.8 rating (2.4 million viewers) with adults 18-49. That's down only a tenth of a ratings point vs. last year.
Though the summer finales of TNT's The Closer and Rizzoli & Isles had many more viewers on Monday night than SOA had on Tuesday, they didn't fare as well with adults 18-49 earning a 1.4 and a 1.5 rating respectively.
I haven't seen the numbers for Covert Affairs finale last night on USA yet, but barring an upside surprise, SOA should ride again as basic cable's top scripted drama with adults 18-49 for the week. It will be hard for anyone in the media to spin ratings supremacy as failure, though not impossible: it happens with American Idol every year. But fortunately (in this context, at least) SOA didn't rise to such heights that many want to tear it down.
Update: here are the press notes via FX:
In Week 2, Sons of Anarchy continued to excel -- ranking as most-watched program in basic cable last night in M18-49 and the second most-watched in P18-49, behind the second season finale of Teen Mom/MTV. Additionally, a week-week-gain in W18-34 made for Sons’ most-watched episode in its history in that demo. Additional superlatives below. All data is Live+Same Day 000s; complete data sets attached.
Week to Week: SOA retained a solid 84% of its week-ago third season premiere in P18-49 (2,370 vs. 2,814), stronger than last year’s Week 1-2 retention (81%). M18-49 retention was stronger than W18-49 (87% vs. 80%); and P18-34 was stronger than P25-54 (91% vs. 81%). In fact, an uptick in W18-34 made for SOA posting its most-watched telecast in history in that demo. Key competitive notes in the time period include (P18-49):
· MTV: the second season finale of Teen Mom fell -9% from last week’s series high (2,712 vs. 2,977).
· USA: the first season finale of Covert Affairs was the second lowest-rated telecast of its season, down -12% week to week (1,865 vs. 2,120)
· History: a repeat of Swamp People vaulted +48% week to week (1,031 vs. 695).
· Covering a handful of mid-term primaries, two of the three cable news nets saw a fairly hefty surge week to week: CNN, +34% (195 vs. 145) and MSNBC, +15% (190 vs. 165); FOX News was even (327 vs. 328).
· Of note, PUTS were down -2% week to week at both 1000P (34.8% vs. 35.6%) and 800 – 1100P (33.8% vs. 34.4%).
Rank in its Basic Cable Time Period (Tuesday 1000 – 1100P): for the second straight week, SOA ranked #2 in its basic cable time period in P18-49. SOA’s 2,370 was slightly behind MTV’s Teen Mom (2,712) but +27% ahead of #3-ranked Covert Affairs (1,865), +130% ahead of #4-ranked Swamp People/History (1,031), and +148% ahead of #5-ranked Chopped Champions/Food (954). In all three men demos and in P25-54, SOA ranked #1.
· What’s more, in M18-49 and M18-34, SOA ranked #1 in its time period outright. In M18-49, SOA outperformed the season premiere of Parenthood on NBC by +19% (1,488 vs. 1,251). In M18-34, SOA bested #2-ranked Teen Mom/MTV by +32% (821 vs. 612) and #3-ranked Parenthood/NBC by +49% (821 vs. 551).
FX for the Night: SOA and Prom Night ranked FX #3 in primetime (1,146) – slightly behind USA (1,422) and MTV (1,255) but ahead of History (876), TBS (834), Discovery (595), and TNT (571) … to name a few.
· In all both M18-49 and M18-34, FX ranked #1: for example, FX’s 664 in M18-49 topped History (650), USA (554), TBS (435) and Discovery (43).
Among all basic cable primetime programs on Tuesday, SOA ranked #2 in P18-49 (2,370) behind the season finale of Teen Mom/MTV (2,712) but ahead of the season finale of Covert Affairs/USA (1,865).
· In all three key men demos and in P25-54, SOA was the most-watched program last night in basic cable. For example, in M18-49, SOA ranking #1 (1,488) was at roughly double the level of #2-ranked Warehouse 13/SYFY (751) and #3-ranked Teen Mom/MTV (732).
Quarter Hours built very nicely (P18-49), up +11% from its first to final quarter hour: 2,236/2,345/2,485/2,475
Click to the next page for a look at the Live+SD (live plus same day DVR viewing) numbers for the first two episodes of season three, plus all of season two of Sons of Anarchy.