Masked Scheduler's Ratings Smackdown

Some Masked Mail today. First up is WQ, who has a dream:
“It was just announced that ABC will air 'Deception' in the post-'American Idol' spot on Sundays in March. Earlier I expressed to you that this would've been my preferred choice of all the new dramas they had lined up for the spring, and you yourself also thought the move would make sense. If 'Deception' succeeds, I think I should seriously consider becoming a network program scheduler myself."
I would keep my day job if I were you. Everybody thinks that scheduling (even is this non-linear, streaming world) is a sexy job. They generally think of the job as simply putting shows in time periods and playing some sort of chess game with the competitive networks. Honestly, that's a very small part it.
Scheduling is so much more than that. That's why most schedulers have the term "strategic program planning" in their title. Scheduling involves articulating a game plan for the network that incorporates the interests of all the involved parties. The scheduler should have no personal agenda and has to be able to deal with a variety of both creative and business executives with a wide range of personality quirks. Also, she or he needs to have the trust and confidence of their bosses, who turn to the scheduler for the most objective and honest opinion on a variety of topics.
The sexiest part of the job is, in many ways, the easiest part. You also have to ask yourself if you can communicate and synthesize a variety of points of view and deal with the pressures of the work. You also have to be willing to take responsibility for your decisions.
Speaking of which, this comes from GP:
"I'm curious to ask what you would do in this position. As you know, ABC set their spring lineup to include 'American Idol' airing on Monday nights against 'The Voice.' If you were scheduling NBC's spring lineup, would you shift 'The Voice' to Tuesday and Wednesday or just hope for the best?"
If I were at NBC, I would do nothing. Making the changes that you suggest would disrupt the entire schedule and not necessarily result in significantly better ratings for "The Voice." One of my golden rules of scheduling was to always try to make the other guys do the dirty work for you, i.e., make them react to your moves and help you while hurting themselves in the process. There are smart people scheduling both networks, and I think they know that we are no longer in a zero-sum game. Both shows can co-exist.
During the weeks that they go head-to-head, I do not know where the shows are in their run. I assume "Idol" is in auditions and Hollywood week or whatever they will call the middle part of the show. "The Voice" will be a little farther along, but regardless, there are so many ways to watch both, even if they are on in the same time period. I think everyone will stick with their own plans.
Got questions? Bring it. or @maskedscheduler on Twitter. Also, if you go to my blog,, there's all sorts of good stuff there from my days as a scheduler at NBC and FOX.

Broadcast primetime live + same-day ratings for Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018

The numbers for Thursday:

Time Show Adults 18-49 rating/share
Viewers (millions)
8 p.m. The Big Bang Theory (CBS) 3.0/12 15.65
Superstore (NBC) 1.1/4 3.85
The Four: Battle for Stardom (FOX) (8-10 p.m.) 1.0/4 3.27
Child Support (ABC) – R 0.7/3 3.49
Critics’ Choice Awards (The CW) (8-10 p.m.) – S 0.3/1 1.27
8:30 p.m. Young Sheldon (CBS) 2.5/10 14.02
The Good Place (NBC) 1.0/4 3.09
9 p.m. Mom (CBS) 1.6/6 9.53
Truth and Lies: The Tonya Harding Story (ABC) (9-11 p.m.) – S 1.4/6 6.63
Will & Grace (NBC) 1.1/4 4.13
9:30 p.m. Life in Pieces (CBS) 1.2/5 7.13
Great News (NBC) 0.6/2 2.39
10 p.m. SWAT (CBS) 1.1/4 6.33
Chicago Fire (NBC) 0.9/3 5.23


“Will & Grace” hit a season low Thursday night, while CBS’ comedies stayed well ahead of the rest of the field and ABC got solid numbers from its latest “Truth and Lies” documentary.

CBS led the night in both adults 18-49 and total viewers. “The Big Bang Theory” (3.0 rating in adults 18-49), “Young Sheldon” (2.5), “Mom” (1.6) and “Life in Pieces” (1.2) were all down a tenth of a point vs. last week, but they all remained above their season averages. “SWAT” was steady at 1.1.

“Will & Grace’s” 1.1 was its lowest of the season, off 0.3 from its previous low last week. “Chicago Fire” was down two tenths to 0.9 for NBC, while “Superstore,” “The Good Place” and “Great News” were even with a week ago.

ABC’s “Truth and Lies: The Tonya Harding Story” posted a 1.4, up from a 1.1 for the previous installment (“Waco”) last week. “The Four” was off a bit to 1.0 for FOX, and the Critics’ Choice Awards drew a 0.3 on The CW.

Network averages:

Adults 18-49 rating/share 1.8/7 1.2/5 1.0/4 0.9/3 0.3/1
Total Viewers (millions) 9.83 5.58 3.27 3.99 1.27


Late-night metered market ratings (adults 18-49, households):

11:35 p.m.

“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”: 0.6/3, 2.8/8

“Jimmy Kimmel Live”: 0.6/4, 2.1/6

“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”: 0.6/3, 1.9/5

12:35 a.m.

“The Late Late Show with James Corden”: 0.3/3, 1.3/4

“Nightline”: 0.3/3, 1.3/4

“Late Night with Seth Meyers”: 0.3/2, 1.2/4


Rating: Estimated percentage of the universe of TV households (or other specified group) tuned to a program in the average minute. Ratings are expressed as a percent.
Fast Affiliate Ratings: These first national ratings are available at approximately 11 a.m. ET the day after telecast. The figures may include stations that did not air the entire network feed, as well as local news breaks or cutaways for local coverage or other programming. Fast Affiliate ratings are not as useful for live programs and are likely to differ significantly from the final results, because the data reflect normal broadcast feed patterns. 
Share (of Audience): 
The percent of households (or persons) using television who are tuned to a specific program, station or network in a specific area at a specific time. 
Time Shifted Viewing:
 Program ratings for national sources are produced in three streams of data – Live, Live +Same-Day and Live +7 Day. Time-shifted figures account for incremental viewing that takes place with DVRs. Live+SD includes viewing during the same broadcast day as the original telecast, with a cut-off of 3 a.m. local time when meters transmit daily viewing to Nielsen for processing. Live +7 ratings include  viewing that takes place during the 7 days following a telecast.

Source: The Nielsen Company.

Posted by:Rick Porter

Rick Porter has been covering TV since the days when networks sent screeners on VHS, one of which was a teaser for the first season of "American Idol." He's left-handed, makes a very solid grilled cheese and has been editor of TV by the Numbers since October 2015. He lives in Austin.

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