In the light of the many gushing “Look At How Great Some New Shows Are Doing!” stories all over the TV media, I thought it would be interesting to look at which returning shows are down big from last season.

Five dramas (90210, CSI, One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl, Desperate Housewives Ghost Whisperer) have retuned this season down more than 20% in the adults 18-49 demo ratings from last season.

The CW’s returning shows have fared particularly badly this season compared to early last season. And to put the “hit” status of Vampire Diaries in perspective, after 4 weeks last fall 90210 had an adults 18-49 rating average of 1.8. Vampire Diaries average after 4 weeks of the season: 1.7. Although I realize the CW targets primarily women 18-34, I don’t have access to ratings averages in that demo.

On the other hand, the standouts for growth vs. last season are the very well publicized ratings increase of NCIS, and the less well publicized relative growth of the Fox animated comedies (Simpsons, American Dad, Family Guy).

On average vs. last season, in the 18-49 demo, Fox is up 10%, CBS is flat, NBC is down 10%, ABC is down 9%, and the CW is flat. These overall network averages include their entire primetime line ups, not just scripted shows in their old timeslots like the table below.

Error Update: I copied and pasted some wrong numbers in the table earlier, and several shows initially had incorrect average ratings. Although there were no big changes in the order, after correction, Desperate Housewives’ ratings fall turns out to be greater than Ghost Whisperer’s. Also, Family Guy’s average includes one repeat airing already this season. Last season’s averages *potentially* contain a repeat in the first 4 weeks as well.

Adults 18-49 ratings averages after 4 weeks of the broadcast season in 08-09 and 09-10:

Show Net 2009-10 STD 18-49 Rating (LIVE+SD) 2008-09 STD 18-49 Rating (LIVE+SD) Change
90210 CW 1.1 1.8 -39%
CSI CBS 3.8 6.2 -39%
One Tree Hill CW 1.1 1.7 -35%
Gossip Girl CW 1.1 1.6 -31%
Desperate Housewives ABC 4.7 6.1 -23%
Ghost Whisperer CBS 2.1 2.6 -19%
Brothers & Sisters ABC 3.1 3.8 -18%
CSI:NY CBS 3.4 4.1 -17%
Numb3rs CBS 1.8 2.1 -15%
Grey’s Anatomy ABC 5.8 6.6 -12%
Supernatural CW 1.2 1.4 -14%
The Office NBC 4.2 4.7 -11%
Criminal Minds CBS 3.9 4.3 -9%
Two And A Half Men CBS 4.7 5.1 -8%
CSI: Miami CBS 4.1 4.4 -7%
New Adventures of Old Christine CBS 2.0 2.1 -5%
Gary Unmarried CBS 2.3 2.3 0%
The Simpsons FOX 4.1 4.0 2%
American Dad FOX 3.5 3.3 6%
Family Guy FOX 4.8 4.5 7%
NCIS CBS 4.6 3.7 24%

The table above contains the season to date adults 18-49 ratings averages after the 4th week of the broadcast season for scripted shows on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and the CW that returned in the 2009-10 season to their 2008-9 season timeslot. Cold Case isn’t in the list because the ratings average data I have for 2008-9 notes that even for the first 4 weeks it was in more than one timeslot.

Nielsen TV Ratings: ©2009 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved.

Posted by:TV By The Numbers

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