Masked Scheduler's Ratings Smackdown

Some Masked Mail for your Tuesday. EC asks the following:
"It's like folklore on TVBTN. 'This time period on this network is a death slot. No show will succeed there.' My thinking is a time period is a 'death slot' until a good show is put there. Then the curse is lifted. For example, there are time periods where execs are convinced all that will work there is some oddball drama. They all fail. Then they give up and stick in a police procedural. And lo and behold, the show does well."
Although scheduling still matters, the ability to watch everything at one's own schedule has made the concept of death slots a bit obsolete -- but not completely. During my time in scheduling, I would separate shows into four quadrants:
- Great Show/Great Time Period: These were the shows that could not help but succeed. I would often argue with our marketing people that the lead-in would do most of the work of making the show a success, and there was no need to over-promote it. That didn't stop these shows from getting more attention than they deserved, because in TV the notion of "marketer, market thyself" was part of the game. "Friends" was a good example of this quadrant, as it started out hammocked between "Mad About You" and "Seinfeld." I don't think any of us knew what we had, so it wasn't over-marketed and the timeslot did the work.
- Great Show/Sh**ty Time Period: Shows that needed the most attention and where marketers earned their salaries. We need to get the audience to the show, especially if the show leads off the night and is in a time period where the network has not had a lot of success. "Providence" fell into this category in the Friday 8 p.m. time slot. Our marketing group did an outstanding getting people there, and it helped that we premiered it right after the holidays. It was a perfect feel-good show to promote at Christmas time.
- Sh**ty Show/Great Time Period: This would apply to several of the Must-See TV satellite shows. I won't bother making a list; I'm sure many of you are going through them as you read this. Many of these shows would often make the top 10 even if they fell precipitously from the anchor show. These shows were also quite profitable given their lower license fees, and some actually survived into a second season. Problem was, we knew they could never survive on their own, and the time periods they occupied were too valuable for us to keep them there for an extended run.
At FOX, the notion of putting live-action comedies behind "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy" usually fell into this category, while a Great Show like "Bob's Burgers" has been left to manage for itself without the benefit of one of the two classics as a lead-in.
- Finally, we have the Sh**ty Show/Sh**ty Time Period quadrant, where no amount of promotion will save the show. I guess this would come closest to what you would consider a "death slot." This was generally the last timeslot that was filled when we were setting the schedule. Don Ohlmeyer would often say "You can't love all your children equally," and these were the little puppies who just needed to fend for themselves and hope for a miracle. It rarely happened.
Once in a while something would surprise us, but for me, putting all our shows into one of these four quadrants would help me strategize with the various departments in terms of the allocation of all our resources.
Questions? I make up answers if you send them to, and I'm on the Twitter @maskedscheduler.

Broadcast primetime live + same-day ratings for Monday, April 2, 2018

The numbers for Monday:

Time Show Adults 18-49 rating/share
Viewers (millions)
8 p.m. The Voice (NBC) (8-10 p.m.) 1.9/7 9.91
American Idol (ABC) (8-10 p.m.) 1.4/5 7.08
The Big Bang Theory (CBS) – R 1.3/5 7.02
Lucifer (FOX) – R 0.4/2 1.70
Legends of Tomorrow (The CW) 0.4/2 1.25
8:30 p.m. Young Sheldon (CBS) – R 1.2/5 6.56
9 p.m. The Big Bang Theory (CBS) – R 1.1/4 6.01
The Resident (FOX) – R 0.3/1 1.78
Penn & Teller: April Fool Us Day (The CW) – S 0.3/1 0.92
9:30 p.m. Living Biblically (CBS) 0.8/3 4.24
10 p.m. The Crossing (ABC) – P 1.0/4 5.45
Good Girls (NBC) 0.9/3 4.27
NCIS (CBS) – R 0.6/2 4.57


The premiere of “The Crossing” on ABC fell well short of “The Good Doctor’s” ratings in the 10 p.m. Monday spot, but the show’s numbers weren’t too bad.

“The Crossing” posted a 1.0 rating among adults 18-49 following “American Idol” (1.4, -0.2 vs. last week). It led the 10 o’clock hour in the demographic and in total viewers (5.45 million).

“The Voice” carried NBC to a win for the night with a 1.9, off a tenth of a point from a week ago. “Good Girls” was even with last week’s final 0.9. “Legends of Tomorrow” also held steady at 0.4 on The CW.

CBS’ “Living Biblically” (0.8) ticked up following a block of “Big Bang Theory” and “Young Sheldon” reruns. FOX took the night off opposite the NCAA men’s championship game on TBS.

Network averages:

Adults 18-49 rating/share 1.5/6 1.3/5 0.9/3 0.4/2 0.4/2
Total Viewers (millions) 8.03 6.54 5.49 1.74 1.09


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

11:35 p.m.

“Jimmy Kimmel Live”: 0.5/3, 1.8/5

“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”: 0.5/3, 1.8/5

“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” – R: 0.4/2, 2.1/6

12:35 a.m.

“Late Night with Seth Meyers”: 0.3/3, 1.2/4

“Nightline”: 0.3/2, 1.1/4

“The Late Late Show with James Corden” – R: 0.2/2, 0.9/3


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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