Mailbag: Why Would USA Air ‘Burn Notice’ Originals Against ‘Person of Interest’ Originals?

Categories: Cable TV

Written By

November 8th, 2012

I’m happy Burn Notice is coming back tonight, but it airs against Person of Interest. No problem for me, I have a DVR! But half of the viewers don’t have DVRs and it seems crazy to me to bring back Burn Notice back in November only to air it against Person of Interest which appeals to the same type of audience. I looked at the numbers for last fall when it also aired against Person of Interest and the numbers were much lower than the summer run. Why would they do that?


Dallas, Tx


I’m not really sure of the crossover between the two shows -- I like them both too, but that doesn’t mean anything. But for what it's worth, in its fall/winter run, I think Burn Notice will mostly air against Elementary. Because tonight's fall Burn Notice premiere is two-hours it's also airing against Person of Interest.

What I am sure of is that for USA shows, the “in-season” (against broadcast network originals) are almost always noticeably lower than the summer airings regardless of the show or its competition on the broadcast and other cable networks. If you had looked back prior to last year you’d have noticed a mostly similar trend for Burn Notice in terms of fall/winter vs. summer runs and that was before Person of Interest was a glimmer in CBS’s eyes.

So I’m going to convert your question into something more generic: “Why does USA even bother airing originals during the broadcast network regular season since ratings are typically noticeably better in the summer?”

My guess is it mostly boils down to one thing: advertising sales. For one, generically, there are a lot of advertising dollars put against the regular season and it’s harder to ensnare your fair share of them if you don’t have any original programming to offer. Also, there’s a particularly large amount of advertising dollars out there heading into, and just past the holiday season. As a result, advertising rates are probably higher in general which may more than offset the lower ratings vs. summer airings. Whatever the case it’s clear that USA makes (or at least projects it will make) more total advertising revenue for the year by airing some originals during the regular broadcast season instead of airing them all in the summer.


  • omabin

    Cool stuff. I have always wondered who does USA does it that way. Some shows I don’t actually bother to watch until the next summer because there is too much going on during normal season (such as Covert Affairs), but I will watch Suits as soon as I can as I reaaaaly love that show.

  • RobertKarl

    I don’t mind as long as they air it a second time later in the evening, which they do. I let TIVO sort it all out, and I end up getting both. NOTE: Here’s a trick to getting maximum coverage from your TIVO: First list broadcast network shows on your queue in Monday thru Sunday order; Second, list cable shows in order of interest. In this way, broadcast shows, which only air once a week will definitely be recorded, and cable shows, which air each episode up to six times in the same week, will be fit in around the broadcast schedule. In this way, I never miss one of the 50-60 episodes I record each week. (I have a 2-at-a-time TIVO, not the 4X model.)

  • USAmerica1st

    In the age of DVR who cares? But these networks, since the days when one network put Chicago Hope against ER on purpose and CH got slaughtered and had to be moved to be saved, networks have been ‘picking fights’, rather than going after easy wins. In my house, Burn Notice gets the nod and POI gets queued up!

  • Jenny

    I’m a fan of both shows & will have to decide which show to watch since they’re going to be on at the same time for me & I don’t have a dvr.

  • Dan S

    No sweat, I’ll simply record BN at midnight since it conflicts with both POI & P&R

  • EatMorePez

    In the age of DVR who cares?

    Probably the ~50% of TV viewers who don’t have a DVR.

  • DevdogAZ

    Don’t forget that USA also airs shows during the normal broadcast season so as not to have such long breaks between seasons. If they only aired original content in the summer, they’d have nine months between new episodes and nine months of no new content. By airing stuff during the season, they keep viewers conditioned to checking USA for new content, and they keep their shows relatively fresh in viewers minds.

  • DW

    the question is why is USA showing one of or the most popular show on the network up against new programs on big brother NBC?. its going to hurt the big guys ratings. especially @ 10

  • Bill Gorman

    @DW, when would you have USA air their new shows?

    NBC programs new shows during at least 22 weeks of the 35 week season?

  • Sue

    Will not miss POI tonight for sure.

    Can watch BN reruns later on USA.

  • Sue

    Not a smart move by USA :(

  • Shepherd

    @Jenny, eatmorepez

    USA repeats their originals so often that not having a dvr really shouldn’t matter much. You have what? 5-6 chances to watch BN every week?

  • Jim Kosmicki

    because until the recent ratings of a couple of shows, USA is what made NBC/Universal any actual money? Even if you don’t have a DVR, cable shows are re-run so often that nobody needs to miss a cable show when it conflicts with a broadcast show. The exception may be the more adult shows that can’t play until later in the evening (which is mainly FX anyway) – those have more limited re-run possibilities that could conflict with people’s need to get sleep at a reasonable time if they work the next day.

  • Hugh

    Good points. Makes sense to split seasons. Also means there’s less wait time between seasons.

  • Percysowner

    I have a DVR, so it doesn’t affect me, but even if it did, USA has most of its shows On Demand in my area, so I can always catch it that way. Plus it does get rerun several times during the week, I think.

  • DW

    @bill summer and these episodes in january then by the end of the short run feb sweeps and you only have one -two to fight over.

  • Annonimous

    I’ll die to watch some crossover between two teams. Although “Finch’s Fugitives” team have The Machine on their side and Finch resources, “Westen’s Desperados” have 3 top notch operatives, so i guess it’s draw.

  • laura

    I always DVR Burn Notice and watch it after the season finales of my shows in May then I begin watching USA programming until September.

  • Martin


    Grammar police here! Instead of “if you would’ve”, it should say “if you had”. With an if-conditional, only the imperfect or past perfect can be used.

  • mort

    it is easy. go two hours ahead and tape the repeat of the 10pm show. that is what i do.

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