Masked Scheduler's Ratings Smackdown

ES has some interesting questions here:
"Like many of your readers, I am constantly refreshing Deadline during the run-up to broadcast upfronts, eagerly awaiting the drop of Nellie's next 'primetime pilot panic.' Of course, I take the pieces with a grain of salt, understanding that sources have their own agendas, unknown variables will impact pickups, and the situation is fluid -- but I wonder what your take is regarding how to read pre-upfront trade pilot reportage?
"For example, when Nellie (Andreeva) says a pilot is 'heating up' or 'cooling off,' is that code for 'someone higher up weighed in and liked it/hated it'? On the rare occasion that a pilot goes completely unmentioned, does that mean it's DOA, and if not, why would it be off of the reporter's radar? As someone who's been on both sides, would love to know how you read and decode the various trades' pilot reports.
On a related and more random note, I've always wondered -- since nets typically have just a week or two between pickups and upfronts, how are trailers, logos, images prepared in time? Do nets cut trailers for every pilot and only release those that go to series?"
I have to believe that pilot screenings kick off this week and that means the manipulation of the TV reporters (especially Nellie) begins in full earnest. To be honest with you, when I was in the scheduling game, I pretty much ignored all the ink regarding which pilots were hot. That stuff generally comes from agents, studios or development executives who are trying to push their agendas.
Rather than reading Deadline and the trades, I would generally depend on internal intelligence. But as I have said here before, I would never let any of that interfere with what I felt the best strategy was for either FOX or NBC. I remember one scheduling week where all the other schedulers left me voicemails with bogus information about their schedules and shows.
Sometimes a pilot doesn't get the ink for all sorts of agendas, such as not having a real advocate at the network. Often a pilot can be shoved down the throat of the development executives by others up the food chain, and therefore no one will champion it to the Nellies of the world. "Back to You" was an example of that at FOX. Sometimes a pilot will be dismissed until the testing comes in, and then we have to rethink things. "The Pretender" was a pleasant surprise at NBC and made the schedule at the very last minute when we saw the "ER"-level testing for the show.
Regarding preparation for the upfront presentations, marketing will get dailies and rough cuts from the pilots, and in coordination with other areas will start cutting trailers. As the week continues, the entertainment execs will start prioritizing which pilots the marketing team should be focusing on. There have been occasions where a dark horse emerges, and the marketing team is informed to get cracking on the show.
Regarding images and the look of the upfront, that usually starts earlier. Funny story: While at FOX, I was up in a senior exec's office during pilot week. and he was being shown the look of the presentation. The marketing team was using "Bernie Mac" as the example. The exec said, "Enjoy that, because it's the last time you'll see the show." As we were leaving, I told the marketing team, "Keep working on it. It will be on the schedule." Again, this is all a crapshoot right up until the schedule is set. Anything can happen.
I love answering your questions, so email them to me at, and I'm on the Twitter @maskedscheduler. Give me a follow.

Broadcast primetime live + same-day ratings for Monday, April 30, 2018

The numbers for Monday:

Time Show Adults 18-49 rating/share
Viewers (millions)
8 p.m. The Voice (NBC) (8-10 p.m.) 1.6/6 8.67
Dancing With the Stars (ABC) (8-10 p.m.) – P 1.1/5 8.45
Kevin Can Wait (CBS) 0.8/3 5.02
Lucifer (FOX) 0.6/3 2.82
Supergirl (The CW) 0.5/2 1.51
8:30 p.m. Man with a Plan (CBS) 0.8/3 4.79
9 p.m. The Resident (FOX) 0.8/3 3.87
Superior Donuts (CBS) 0.7/3 4.14
iZombie (The CW) 0.2/1 0.72
9:30 p.m. The Big Bang Theory (CBS) – R 0.7/3 4.16
10 p.m. Good Girls (NBC) – F 0.9/4 4.24
Elementary (CBS) – P 0.6/3 4.68
The Crossing (ABC) 0.5/2 3.80


The all-athlete edition of “Dancing With the Stars” posted the franchise’s lowest premiere ratings Monday night. The show drew a 1.1 rating in adults 18-49, down 0.3 from the fall cycle’s debut and off a full point from the 2.1 for the spring 2017 cycle. “The Crossing” was also low at 0.5, off 0.2 vs. last week.

“The Voice” led the night for NBC with a 1.6, up a tenth of a point from a week ago. The season finale of “Good Girls” held steady at 0.9.

“Supergirl” ticked up a tenth to 0.5 on The CW, while “iZombie” was steady at 0.2. At FOX, “The Resident” was even with last week’s preliminary 0.8 (it adjusted up in the finals), but “Lucifer” fell a tenth to a series-low 0.6.

“Kevin Can Wait” (0.8) and “Superior Donuts” (0.7) each slipped a tenth from their last episodes on CBS, while “Man with a Plan” held at 0.8. “Elementary” premiered to a 0.6, down from 0.8 for its fall 2017 debut but in line with its 2016-17 average.

Network averages:

Adults 18-49 rating/share 1.4/5 1.0/4 0.7/3 0.7/3 0.3/1
Total Viewers (millions) 7.20 6.90 4.58 3.35 1.12


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

11:35 p.m.

“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”: 0.5/3, 1.7/5

“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”: 0.4/3, 2.5/7

“Jimmy Kimmel Live”: 0.3/2, 1.7/5

12:35 a.m.

“Late Night with Seth Meyers”: 0.3/3, 1.1/4

“The Late Late Show with James Corden”: 0.2/2, 1.1/4

“Nightline”: 0.2/2, 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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