Masked Scheduler's Ratings Smackdown

Back from Vegas and the NCAA Tournament, which is one of the strangest in recent years.
Let's start off with this question from KM:
"Do you think the winter breaks do more than harm than good for bubble shows like 'Designated Survivor'? I know this year was an extended break with the Olympics, but when it returns after being off the air for 2 months with a series low number is it an out of sight, out of mind thing? And do you think it can somewhat recover the lost audience?"
There has always been a break in schedules between December and early or mid-January. We just never labelled them with terms like "Fall Finale" or "Midseason Premiere" or whatever fakakta term the networks come up with for these breaks. The longer breaks are another example of "cable envy," where the networks try to replicate the pattern of "Mad Men," "Breaking Bad" or "The Walking Dead" (all on AMC). Also, by delaying the return, the networks can run the shows without repeats for the remainder of the season.
I do think that for a show on the bubble like "Designated Survivor," the long gap does hurt the ratings. Also, and this is a pet peeve of mine, lying down for the Olympics is a mistake. The Olympic ratings are composed of lots of viewers who are not normally in the broadcast audience, and if you put on your original programming you will get your number.
When I was at FOX, we debated not airing "American Idol" against the Winter Games, but cooler heads prevailed and we did just fine.
Bottom line this is an ongoing issue. If you don't take the long break, you have fewer continuous episodes, and for a serialized show like "Designated Survivor," that could be more fatal than taking the long break.
I normally don't share fan mail, but I got this from HG who was reacting to my piece on how FOX's O.J. Simpson special came to be.
"Dear MS:
"Thank you for this great piece. When all of this went down, I was Judith Regan’s EP at Sirius. This whole episode was traumatic and a complete nightmare on our side as well. What they did to her was and is again horrendous.
"Your piece was spot on!”
JB wants to know: "Was Paula Abdul always the 'pop star' choice to judge, or were there other former women pop stars that 'Idol' tried to get?"
To the best of my memory, Paula was always our choice to be on the panel. Out instincts were correct in that she and Simon Cowell had several playful years together. It was a big loss to the show when she moved on. One day someone needs to explain to me why we always need two men and a woman on these panels. I think we're at a point where we should just pick the best three regardless of gender.
I can be questioned at or on Twitter @maskedscheduler.

Broadcast primetime live + same-day ratings for Sunday, March 18, 2018

Note: CBS’ live NCAA Tournament coverage may result in greater adjustments than usual in the final ratings.

The numbers for Sunday:

Time Show Adults 18-49 rating/share
Viewers (millions)
7 p.m. NCAA Tournament overrun (CBS) 2.9/14 12.18
Little Big Shots (NBC) – S 0.8/3 5.97
America’s Funniest Home Videos (ABC) 0.8/3 5.30
Bob’s Burgers (FOX) – R 0.5/2 1.42
7:30 p.m. 60 Minutes (CBS) 1.5/6 10.00
Bob’s Burgers (FOX) 0.7/3 1.69
8 p.m. American Idol (ABC) (8-10 p.m.) 1.8/6 7.74
Little Big Shots (NBC) – P 1.1/4 7.48
The Simpsons (FOX) 0.8/3 2.07
8:30 p.m. Instinct (CBS) – P 1.0/4 8.79
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX) 0.9/4 1.93
9 p.m. Genius Junior (NBC) – P 1.0/4 5.07
Family Guy (FOX) 1.0/4 2.31
9:30 p.m. NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS) 0.8/3 7.98
The Last Man on Earth (FOX) 0.7/3 1.61
10 p.m. Deception (ABC) 0.9/4 4.15
Timeless (NBC) 0.7/3 2.87
10:30 p.m. Madam Secretary (CBS) 0.6/3 6.37


“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” returned from a three-month hiatus Sunday with its best adults 18-49 rating of the season. The FOX show, which aired on Tuesdays in the fall, scored a 0.9 in the 18-49 demographic, building slightly on its “Simpsons” lead-in (0.8).

“Family Guy” scored a 1.0 for FOX, and “Bob’s Burgers” and “The Last Man on Earth” each came in at 0.7.

“Instinct” premiered to a 1.0 on CBS, pending updates. That would put it slightly ahead of the average for “Wisdom of the Crowd” (0.9) in the fall. “Instinct’s” 8.79 million viewers were also the most for any entertainment show on Sunday. “NCIS: Los Angeles” (0.8) and “Madam Secretary” (0.6) were in line with recent performances, pending updates.

“American Idol” led the night in adults 18-49 at 1.8, down half a point from its premiere the previous week but even with the Monday, March 12 episode. “Deception” (0.9) fell 0.3 from its premiere.

At NBC, the 8 p.m. premiere of “Little Big Shots” scored a 1.1, down from its 1.5 in-season average last year (it was on par with the June 2017 season finale). “Genius Junior” opened with a 1.0, and “Timeless” slipped a tenth week to week to 0.7.

Network averages:

Adults 18-49 rating/share 1.3/5 1.3/5 0.9/3 0.8/3
Total Viewers (millions) 6.23 9.01 5.35 1.84


: 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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