Masked Scheduler's Ratings Smackdown

ABC has to be relieved with the initial ratings for "American Idol." If they can keep it close to a 2.0, that would be a win in my book. The FOX O.J. stunt didn't appear to harm the show, and now ABC needs to roll up its sleeves and make a great show with some promising talent, because "American Idol" is about the talent.
It will be interesting to see what happens when it goes head-to-head with "The Voice" tonight.
Here are my observations on the return of "American Idol" at least the first night of auditions. I just spent four columns telling you about my relationship with the show, so I speak as both a fan and a broadcaster.
The initial two hours should appeal to the "base" of "Idol" fans as well as to the recently lapsed. It remained true to "American Idol." The producers did not try to reinvent the show but rather served up a rather typical audition episode.
I thought ABC did a solid job in building a judges' panel. Luke Bryan did an acceptable Keith Urban-like performance, Katy Perry was quite good, and the big surprise for me was Lionel Richie, who came across as the Yoda of the panel. The judges did a fine job of offering constructive advice to those who did not go on to the next round. They connected with the kids, and overall it was a comfortable mix. I wish there was a bit more conflict among the judges, some sincere differences of opinion. Maybe that will come.
Ryan Seacrest felt notably absent from the festivities, and I think that was a good thing given the current situation. For me his role is to keep the trains moving once we get to the live shows, and the less we see of him now gives ABC options down the road if needed.
The show did feel a bit too manufactured, and the vignettes did not feel raw enough. I always felt you wanted to capture something real about these kids. I tweeted last night that I gave ABC props for waiting 90 minutes before the first Disney crossover promotion. Please keep them to a minimum. I know part of bringing the show over to ABC is to give you these opportunities but be discrete.
If there was a theme to the festivities it was, "Don't judge a book by its cover." It felt like a lot of the kids who got tickets last night got them because you did not expect them to be as good as their appearance or voice indicated. They did not look like an "American Idol" winner. Because the bar was set a bit low, some of them may not have been as good as we thought, nor did they have the range of ability needed to go far in the contest.
I would always tell Mike Darnell that on the first show, we need one kid who you felt could be the next "American Idol." I didn't see one last night.
For me, ABC did what it needed to do -- i.e., bring back "American Idol" and not some version of the show that would not satisfy the core audience and those who could be persuaded to give it a second chance. I'll check back in after the auditions.
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Broadcast primetime live + same-day ratings for Sunday, March 11, 2018

The numbers for Sunday:

Time Show Adults 18-49 rating/share
Viewers (millions)
7 p.m. America’s Funniest Home Videos (ABC) 1.1/5 6.02
60 Minutes (CBS) 0.9/4 9.22
American Ninja Warrior: USA vs. the World (NBC) (7-10 p.m.) – S 0.8/3 3.55
Bob’s Burgers (FOX) – R 0.4/2 1.53
7:30 p.m. Bob’s Burgers (FOX) 0.7/3 1.83
8 p.m. American Idol (ABC) (8-10 p.m.) – P 2.3/8 10.34
O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession? (FOX) (8-10 p.m.) – S 1.2/5 4.40
60 Minutes (CBS) 0.9/3 8.47
9 p.m. NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS) 0.9/3 7.99
10 p.m. Deception (ABC) – P 1.3/5 6.10
Timeless (NBC) – P 0.8/3 2.96
Madam Secretary (CBS) 0.6/2 6.31


On one hand, Sunday’s premiere of “American Idol” on ABC had smaller ratings than any of the show’s 15 season debuts on FOX.

On the other hand, the show matched expectations for the current ratings climate and gave ABC a big upgrade from 8-10 p.m. “Idol’s” 2.3 rating among adults 18-49 was on par with the show’s 2016 average on FOX and more than double what “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and “Shark Tank” averaged from 8-10 earlier in the season.

“AFV” scored a 1.1 for ABC, and the premiere of “Deception” drew a 1.3, leading the 10 o’clock hour by half a point. The network had its best Sunday with regular series programming since Sept. 30, 2012.

The Season 2 premiere of “Timeless” on NBC didn’t fare as well. It posted a 0.8, down a tenth of a point from its finale last season and 0.3 off its season average. On CBS, “NCIS: Los Angeles” (0.9, -0.2) and “Madam Secretary” (0.6, -0.1) returned from six-week hiatuses to smaller numbers.

FOX got a 1.2 from its special “O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession?,” a repackaging of a 2006 interview that was yanked at the time.

Network averages:

Adults 18-49 rating/share 1.7/7 1.0/4 0.8/3 0.8/3
Total Viewers (millions) 8.19 3.49 8.00 3.40


: 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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