Dead Zone: The Shrinking Hours For Broadcast Primetime Ratings Success
Robert noted that it may be time to think differently about CBS’s 10pm shows. I think that’s just a symptom of the enlarging dead zone during broadcast primetime when new shows have a very hard time launching and veteran shows wither.
Saturday was the first night to be part of the dead zone. No broadcast network programs “living” original scripted episodes on Saturday night.
While there’s been lots of lip service about, and some weak efforts at, putting scripted shows back on Friday night, only CBS is even remotely serious about it. And for all the PR hoo-ha about Blue Bloods, and CSI:NY this season, their week five 1.8 adults 18-49 ratings were below/no better than those of the now cancelled Ghost Whisperer (2.1), and Numb3rs (1.8) in the same week last season.
Now 10pm from Sunday-Thursday seems to be becoming part of the dead zone as well. ABC’s had two seasons in a row of 10pm rookie ratings failures, and last week, CBS’s 10pm shows (CSI: Miami, The Good Wife, The Mentalist, Hawaii Five-0, Defenders) were their lowest rated scripted shows from Sunday-Thursday (although Rules of Engagement tied Mentalist and Five-0).
Whether it’s competition from cable, people watching earlier shows on DVRs (don’t fall for the Jedi Mind Tricks!), or as Jay Leno suggested people are just going to sleep earlier, 10pm’s become a problem for broadcast.
If you can’t launch a new show at 10pm, or Friday, or Saturday, and moving a veteran show to one of those timeslots means diminished ratings (eg. The Mentalist), that puts some serious limits on the number of timeslots available for new show “success”.
What’s a broadcast network to do?