While the 2011-12 broadcast primetime season doesn't officially begin until September 19, Fox's Cops begins with new episodes tonight, and a few primetime shows will have "early" 2011-12 season premieres next week, so its time for a little 2011-12 network ratings ranking prognostication.
Unlike the TV entertainment media, which attempts to look across the new shows and pick winners and losers and gauge network fortunes from them, my prognostication has nothing to do with the ups and downs of rookies (pre-season guessing on which I think is mostly a fools errand), but instead fixed trends that are subject to far less guessing.
Fox is likely to once again (it would be their eighth consecutive season) top the adults 18-49 ratings.
- Fox beat CBS by 0.6 ratings points last season.
- Fox has the Major League AL championship series this fall (vs. NL last fall). Not only is the AL almost always higher rated, but it will likely feature at least one (and maybe both) of the Yankees or Red Sox. A plus for Fox.
- Last year's World Series had a bad matchup for ratings (SF v. Texas, but Go Giants!) and went only 5 games, producing among the worst ratings results for the WS ever. Regression to the mean would indicate likely improvement here. A likely plus for Fox.
- Fox had the Super Bowl last season, but not in 2011-12. That gained them 0.5 ratings points*. A big minus for Fox.
- Fox will have the NFC Championship in primetime in 2012. That will gain them 0.1-0.2 ratings points*. A plus for Fox.
- While broadcast entertainment programming ratings will continue their multi-decade ratings slide, NFL football ratings look likely to remain reasonably stable to up as they have in recent years. A mild plus for Fox Sundays.
- CBS had the AFC Championship game in primetime last season. That gained them about 0.1 ratings points last season*. That game will not be in primetime in 2011-12. A minus for CBS.
- While broadcast entertainment programming ratings will continue their multi-decade ratings slide, NFL football ratings look likely to remain reasonably stable to up as they have in recent years. A mild plus for CBS Sundays.
- ABC beat NBC by just 0.2 ratings points last season.
- NBC has the Super Bowl, which should net them an additional 0.3 ratings points* this season vs. last season.
- While broadcast entertainment programming ratings will continue their multi-decade ratings slide, NFL football ratings look likely to remain reasonably stable to up as they have in recent years. A plus for NBC Sundays.
ABC should finish fourth.
Univision will certainly finish fifth, but expect them to close the gap with the English broadcasters.
The CW will certainly finish sixth.
Of course, the above just accounts for the relative positions of the networks, all English broadcast network ratings will likely fall another 5% or so, as has been their trend since I was a young man.
*Fox gains (and loses) more from one time events because they program only 15 hours of primetime/week, vs. 22 for ABC, NBC & CBS. Fox haters can save their breath whining about how comparing 15 hrs/week to 22 hours/week is unfair. That's standard industry practice. Where are those whining about the advantage the CW gets by programming just 10 hours a week? Rage against the machine all you'd like in private.