Masked Scheduler's Ratings Smackdown

I have been asked by several of you to elaborate on the issue of developing and programming for cohorts vs. demographics. I'll give it a shot.
When I was at NBC, I asked the GE R&D nerds to develop what I called "Series Life Cycle." I have talked about it here, but simply put, it was a way to look at the historical rating for a show as if you were looking at a patient's chart. You could trend whatever demos you wanted and it did all sorts of other nifty things.
I would use it to evaluate our shows and also see if I could ascertain any signs that competitive shows were showing signs of decline, and more importantly, why. You could also see that different genres had different life-cycle patterns.
Series life cycle came in handy and had a lot to do with how we managed "Law & Order," "Homicide" and "Mad About You," to name a few. We also used it to make the move of "Frasier" over to Tuesday against "Roseanne."
I would spend lots of time with the application, and one thing I noticed was a pattern to several FOX serialized shows like "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "Melrose Place." They were considered 12-24 female-oriented dramas, but what I observed was that the teens quickly left the show after a year or so, and the older 18-34 and 35-49 demos started to gain in audience. It occurred to me that I was seeing two phenomena at work.
First, people get older, so these shows weren't losing their teen viewers; rather their teen viewers were now 18-34s, and they were staying with the show. They just occupied a different demo break.
Second, these shows were not replenishing the teen viewers, and I started to realize that it was because a show was talking to a cohort and not a demo. Those moving into the teen demographic were looking for shows that spoke to them, not to their older brothers and sisters.
Programming for demos and not cohorts got both The WB and MTV in trouble. I think that if you target the younger part of the audience, you need to refresh your programming philosophy more than at a broadcast network like CBS, which keeps the lights on for you as you approach your later years.
Animation is a whole other story. There is something more universal about it, and it always amazed me that one of the most successful Saturday morning shows for decades was Bugs Bunny. Its audience kept replenishing itself.
Demos are arbitrary age breaks, but cohorts travel with a group through their evolving life experience, and each cohort is different. If that can be factored into programming you are ahead of the game.
Email me at with thoughts or tweet me @maskedscheduler.

Broadcast primetime live + same-day ratings for Thursday, March 29, 2018

The numbers for Thursday:

Time Show Adults 18-49 rating/share
Viewers (millions)
8 p.m. The Big Bang Theory (CBS) 2.4/11 12.94
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) 1.7/7 6.99
Superstore (NBC) 0.8/3 2.94
Gotham (FOX) 0.7/3 2.38
Supernatural (The CW) 0.7/3 2.00
8:30 p.m. Young Sheldon (CBS) 2.0/9 11.69
AP Bio (NBC) 0.6/2 2.10
9 p.m. Mom (CBS) 1.4/6 8.66
Station 19 (ABC) 1.2/5 5.83
Will & Grace (NBC) 0.9/4 3.73
Showtime at the Apollo (FOX) 0.6/3 2.48
Arrow (The CW) 0.4/2 1.14
9:30 p.m. Life in Pieces (CBS) 1.0/4 6.20
Champions (NBC) 0.5/2 1.92
10 p.m. SWAT (CBS) 0.9/4 5.34
Chicago Fire (NBC) 0.9/4 5.26
Scandal (ABC) 0.8/3 3.76


“Station 19” improved a little bit in its second week on ABC, but “Scandal” suffered some in a later timeslot. NBC’s comedies and “Chicago Fire” came in low.

“Station 19” posted a 1.2 rating among adults 18-49, up from 1.1 for last week’s two-hour premiere. (It was at 1.2 for its first hour.) “Grey’s Anatomy” (1.7) was off two tenths of a point, and “Scandal” fell three tenths to 0.8.

On NBC, “Superstore” (0.8), “AP Bio” (0.6), “Will & Grace” (0.9) and “Champions” (0.5) all hit or tied season lows. “Chicago Fire” also tied its season low at 0.9.

CBS led the night, although its comedies were also down some: “The Big Bang Theory” (2.4) and “Life in Pieces” (1.0) fell two tenths, and “Young Sheldon” (2.0) and “Mom” (1.4) lost a tenth apiece. “SWAT” held steady at 0.9.

“Supernatural” returned from two weeks off at 0.7, its best mark since mid-November and tying its season high. “Arrow” was steady at 0.4 on The CW. FOX’s “Gotham” was also steady at 0.7.

Network averages:

Adults 18-49 rating/share 1.4/6 1.2/5 0.8/3 0.7/3 0.6/2
Total Viewers (millions) 8.36 5.53 3.54 2.43 1.57


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

11:35 p.m.

“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”: 0.4/2, 2.7/7

“Jimmy Kimmel Live” – R: 0.4/2, 1.5/4

“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” – R: 0.4/2, 1.5/4

12:35 a.m.

“Nightline”: 0.3/2, 1.0/3

“Late Night with Seth Meyers” – R: 0.3/2, 1.0/3

“The Late Late Show with James Corden”: 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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