Masked Scheduler's Ratings Smackdown

It's Masked Mailbox day. CS asks an interesting question:
"So, as you are going through of Must-See TV and are getting to 'Friends' and 'ER,' I want to know whose idea was it to give the slot after 'Seinfeld' to Dabney Coleman? Three times before that, three different networks gave their best timeslot to 'Buffalo Bill,' 'Slap Maxwell' and 'Drexel's Class.' He kept being cast as the same unlikable character -- surprise viewers found him unlikable. Why did you think this time would be different?"
That is a really good question. As to why "Madman of the People" got the slot, I don't remember for sure, but I have to believe that it was probably our highest-testing comedy pilot that May. "Friends" was not an especially high-testing pilot, and although it was well-received inside the building and got the "Mad About You"/"Seinfeld" hammock, "MOTP" probably tested broader. I don't think we yet knew that we had tapped into a young-adult audience that we could build on. Remember this was more than 20 years ago. Networks were still the place for scripted programming, and the broader the better.
Regarding Dabney Coleman and his multiple at-bats in plum time periods, I think there was a feeling in the business that in the right vehicle, he would be a big star. There was a lot of evidence that people liked crotchety characters, but I think the problem with Dabney Coleman was he never had his Edith or Weezy. Good rule: Dislikable characters need someone the audience can identify with who loves and accepts the dislikable character.
Finally, every network casting exec had their favorites who would be cast over and over in comedies and fail every time. Craig Bierko, who ironically was in "Madman of the People," was an NBC darling, as was Paula Marshall. They were show killers back in the day.
There was a second part to the email from CS that was echoed in this question from CM, who writes:
"Keep up the good work on the site. What do you think about all the TV reboots? Especially NBC 'Will & Grace' (already renewed!) and 'Miami Vice.'"
I'm sure I've talked about this before, but in the spirit of reducing the cost of failure and investing in success, reboots make a lot of ratings and financial sense, even if they are a sign of creative bankruptcy in the biz. They are not that different from what I have called "colonized hits," such as the "NCIS," "Law & Order," "CSI" and "Chicago" franchises that have filled up several hours of the CBS and NBC schedules. Having worked in scheduling for over a quarter of a century, I would be lying if I didn't say there is a comfort to knowing that there is a floor to some hours of your schedule so that you can focus on other trouble spots.
In the case of "Will & Grace," these are pros both in front and behind the camera, and given cultural changes and probably a bit more freedom of expression, it will be fun for fans of the show to see them back together. I feel that they will not skip a beat. "Miami Vice" will, I assume, be more of a re-imagining than a return of the two leads. At least I hope so. "MV" is one of my all-time faves. The Masked Wife and I used Cooper and Burnett as our banking passwords back in the day.
Bottom line for me is you can't fault the networks for rebooting series, especially when you see other platforms like Netflix doing the same thing. I strongly disagree with the great critic Alan Sepinwall that this trend toward more reboots will, in some way, influence how writers end series. The viewer is more forgiving, and it's simply another reimagining.
Tweet me @maskedscheduler, and email questions to

Broadcast primetime live + same-day ratings for Monday, Aug. 7, 2017

The numbers for Monday:

Time Show Adults 18-49 Rating/Share
Viewers (millions)
8 p.m. The Bachelorette (ABC) (8-11 p.m.) – F 2.1/8 7.47
American Ninja Warrior (NBC) (8-10 p.m.) 1.5/6 6.28
So You Think You Can Dance (FOX) (8-10 p.m.) 0.7/3 2.66
Kevin Can Wait (CBS) – R 0.7/3 4.11
Supergirl (The CW) – R 0.2/1 1.20
8:30 p.m. Superior Donuts (CBS) – R 0.6/3 3.48
9 p.m. Mom (CBS) – R 0.6/2 3.72
Hooten & the Lady (The CW) 0.2/1 1.10
9:30 p.m. Life in Pieces (CBS) – R 0.5/2 3.18
10 p.m. Midnight, Texas (NBC) 0.8/3 3.13
CBSN: On Assignment (CBS) 0.4/2 2.46


The finale of “The Bachelorette” scored its best ratings of the season en route to a good-sized ratings win Monday night.

The three-hour finale averaged a 2.1 rating in adults 18-49 and 7.47 million viewers, season highs in both measures. (It also gave “Jimmy Kimmel Live” a ratings bump; see below.) “The Bachelorette” was down some, however, from last year’s finale, when the last episode and “After the Final Rose” averaged 2.4 and 8.4 million viewers.

“American Ninja Warrior” (1.5) improved by a tenth of a point vs. last week for NBC, while “Midnight, Texas” held steady at 0.8. A two-hour “So You Think You Can Dance” came in at 0.7 on FOX, even with last week. “Hooten & the Lady” (0.2) was also steady for The CW.

Network averages:

Adults 18-49 rating/share 2.1/8 1.3/5 0.7/3 0.5/2 0.2/1
Total Viewers (millions) 7.47 5.23 2.66 3.24 1.15


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

11:35 p.m.

“Jimmy Kimmel Live”: 0.6/3, 1.9/5

“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”: 0.5/3, 1.5/4

“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”: 0.4/2, 2.4/6

12:35 a.m.

“Nightline”: 0.3/3, 1.2/4

“Late Night with Seth Meyers”: 0.3/2, 1.0/4

“The Late Late Show with James Corden”: 0.2/2, 1.0/4

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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