Masked Scheduler's Ratings Smackdown

You may have noticed that I have left the speculation of schedules to my colleague Rick Porter. I have a close relationship with the schedulers and appreciate how difficult the job is, especially in these times. They don't need my suggestions.
Next week as the skeds are announced, I will refrain from critiques and leave those to people far less qualified than me. I will, after all skeds are announced, try to give a more macro perspective on the state of the networks.
Here's a question about pilot testing from the Masked Mailbox. EC asks: "Are you going to talk about some of the pilots that tested best/worst?"
Some of the biggest hits were also high-testing pilots. At NBC, "The Cosby Show" and "Golden Girls" scored big. "ER" was one of the highest-testing drama pilots in NBC history.
One of the big surprises at NBC was "The Pretender." The pilot was called a miss by the development execs who worked on it, and we didn't even screen it. The testing came in, and it was at "ER" levels. We tested it a second time with similar results. "The Pretender" had a good run on the network.
Neither "Seinfeld," "Friends" nor "Mad About You" had strong tests. They were all in the weak to mid-moderate range of testing.
As I mentioned yesterday, at FOX "New Girl" stood out as a very strong testing comedy. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" was above the norms, but not in the Oh Wow range.
We had some solid drama tests at FOX including "24," "Empire" and "Gotham." One of my favorite pilots, "The Cure" (medical A-Team), had a strong test but never got a pickup for reasons that still boggle my mind.
I never saw the testing, but I have to believe that "Modern Family" had an exceptionally strong test. I thought it was the perfect pilot and was really upset that our studio licensed it to ABC rather than giving it to FOX. They were probably right, but it still hurts to this day.
The one really weak pilot I'll mention was a science fiction pilot called "Them." It was terrible, but the "creative" execs loved it and assumed it would get on the air. Sci-fi generally tests higher than other drama genres but this was below, way below, the norms by any measure. When we reported the results, we were actually accused of fixing the numbers because it was known that Research and I thought it was an abomination. Fortunately, we kept the tapes of the focus groups and were willing to play them for anyone interested. It was an unnerving experience.
Stuff going on, so other than "Total Divas" (E!, L+1), a quiet viewing night.
Tweet me at @maskedscheduler and email at

Broadcast primetime live + same-day ratings for Thursday, May 11, 2017

The numbers for Thursday:

Time Show Adults 18-49 Rating/Share Viewers (millions)
8 p.m. The Big Bang Theory (CBS) – F 2.6/11 12.60
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) 1.8/7 6.91
Masterchef Junior (FOX) 0.8/3 2.82
Law & Order: SVU (NBC) – R 0.5/2 2.78
Supernatural (The CW) 0.5/2 1.43
8:30 p.m. The Big Bang Theory (CBS) – R 1.8/7 10.06
9 p.m. Mom (CBS) – F 1.5/6 8.21
Scandal (ABC) 1.4/5 5.24
Chicago Med (NBC) – F 1.2/5 6.79
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX) (9-10 p.m.) – R 0.5/2 1.34
Riverdale (The CW) – F 0.4/2 0.95
9:30 p.m. Life in Pieces (CBS) – F 1.1/4 6.02
10 p.m. The Blacklist (NBC) 0.9/3 4.96
The Amazing Race (CBS) 0.9/3 4.08
The Catch (ABC) – F 0.6/3 2.98


The season finale “The Big Bang Theory” was up over last week’s preliminary ratings and led Thursday’s race, but it was off a good amount from last season’s final episode.

The CBS comedy drew a 2.6 rating among adults 18-49, up from last week’s early 2.4 (and even with its final number). It’s off about 23 percent from the 3.4 for the Season 9 finale last year. The “Mom” finale matched last week’s 1.5, while “Life in Pieces” (1.1) ended its season down a tenth vs. last week. “The Amazing Race” held at 0.9.

ABC’s “Scandal” (1.4) was up a tenth week to week, while “Grey’s Anatomy” (1.8) rose 0.1 from last week’s early rating and equaled its final number. “The Catch” ended with a 0.6, on par with last week.

“Chicago Med” (1.2) and “The Blacklist” (0.9) each grew by a tenth. The finale of “Riverdale” (0.4) on The CW and “Supernatural” (0.5) are both even with last week’s early numbers (“Riverdale” adjusted down in the finals). “Masterchef Junior” slipped a tenth to 0.8 for FOX.

Network averages:

Adults 18-49 rating/share 1.5/6 1.3/5 0.8/3 0.7/3 0.5/2
Total Viewers (millions) 7.51 5.04 4.84 2.08 1.19


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

11:35 p.m.

“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”: 0.6/3, 2.0/5

“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”: 0.5/3, 2.5/7

“Jimmy Kimmel Live”: 0.5/3, 1.7/4

12:35 a.m.

“Late Night with Seth Meyers”: 0.4/3, 1.2/4

“The Late Late Show with James Corden”: 0.3/2, 1.2/4

“Nightline”: 0.3/2, 1.0/3

: 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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