Masked Scheduler's Ratings Smackdown

"Prison Break" got off to a promising start. Like "The X-Files" the show returned not only with the brothers but also with much of the cast intact. Might explain why "24: Legacy" is having a tougher time of it in spite of the football boost.
For me "Prison Break" will always be one of the best examples of how network executives can sometimes not grasp why a successful show is working and therefore miss the mark when they try to replicate its success.
"Lost" came on ABC at the start of the 2004-05 season and became an instant phenomenon. "Imitation is the greatest form of television" is a phrase often used in the biz, and the networks saw "Lost" as a development target for the 2005-06 season. Problem was, the networks never really understood why "Lost" worked. All they knew was that it was sci-fi. Well, it wasn't.
Fast forward to the start of the 2005 season and there were three attempts at emulating "Lost." NBC put a show called "Surface" on the fall schedule. CBS premiered "Threshold," and ABC not only tried their version of a "Lost" wannabe with a show called "Invasion" but put it on after "Lost," which was a smart move. Problem was, none of these shows were "Lost," and none of them lasted beyond their freshman year.
Back in the 2004-05 season we developed and piloted "Prison Break." I believe that it was developed "off cycle," which means we made it and tested it before the insane pilot deluge in April and May.
I had just been given oversight of research, and I brought in a smart executive from NBC, Melva Benoit, to run the department. "Prison Break" was the first pilot that was tested under the new administration. When the results came in Melva called me concerned at how strong it tested. She was worried that our boss, Gail Berman, would think we had juiced the test to make her feel good given that this was our first. We hadn't.
What jumped out to me about the test were the strength of the venue (prison) and the deep roster of strong testing characters. It didn't dawn on me until "Prison Break" premiered to solid ratings that, while the other networks were pursuing the next "Lost" by going down the sci-fi path, we had inadvertently stumbled upon "Lost" with "Prison Break." I'll leave it up to you to think about the connections.
Moral of the story: When you drill down a little deeper in what makes for a successful show, you often see connections between shows that, on the surface, do not appear all that similar. Think about "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" and "Heroes," for example.
Last night's schedule:
- "Smackdown Live (USA, live)
- Cubs/Cardinals. Baseball's back baby.
- "The Americans" (FX, L+SD)
- "24: Legacy" (FOX, L+1)
- "The Goldbergs" (ABC, L+7)
Tweet me @maskedscheduler or send questions or comments to

Broadcast primetime live + same-day ratings for Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The numbers for Tuesday feature the return of a FOX series after eight years away:

Time Show Adults 18-49 Rating/Share Viewers (millions)
8 p.m. The Voice (NBC) 1.9/7 9.34
NCIS (CBS) 1.5/6 13.45
The Middle (ABC) 1.3/5 5.34
New Girl (FOX) – F 0.9/4 2.01
Legends of Tomorrow (The CW) – F 0.6/2 1.53
8:30 p.m. American Housewife (ABC) 1.2/5 4.35
The Mick (FOX) 0.8/3 2.11
9 p.m. Prison Break (FOX) – P 1.5/5 3.79
Bull (CBS) 1.3/5 10.98
Fresh Off the Boat (ABC) 1.1/4 3.83
Trial & Error (NBC) 0.9/4 4.14
iZombie (The CW) – P 0.4/1 0.98
9:30 p.m. Imaginary Mary (ABC) 0.9/4 3.46
Trial & Error (NBC) 0.7/3 3.19
10 p.m. Chicago Fire (NBC) 1.3/5 6.12
NCIS: New Orleans (CBS) 1.0/4 8.89
Agents of SHIELD (ABC) 0.7/3 2.20


The return of “Prison Break” after eight years away put up decent numbers for FOX Tuesday. Its 1.5 rating among adults 18-49 tied “NCIS” for the top scripted show of the night and was second overall behind “The Voice” (1.9, down 0.2 vs. last week).

The season premiere of “iZombie” didn’t fare quite as well. It returned to a 0.4 on The CW, down from a 0.7 for its Season 2 debut in fall 2o15 (which had a “Flash” lead-in) and off a tenth from its finale last season. The finale of “Legends of Tomorrow” scored a 0.6, on par with its season average.

Elsewhere, “Agents of SHIELD” came back from hiatus to a 0.7 for ABC, up a tenth from its last episode. The network’s comedies were all on the low side, and “Imaginary Mary” debuted in its regular home to a 0.9, even with “The Real O’Neals'” performance earlier in the season.

The finale of “New Girl” (0.9) held steady with last week on FOX, but “The Mick” was down a tenth at 0.8. “Bull” held at 1.3 for CBS. “NCIS: New Orleans’ (1.0) and “Chicago Fire” (1.3) each came down a tenth.

Network averages:

Adults 18-49 rating/share 1.3/5 1.3/5 1.2/4 1.0/4 0.5/2
Total Viewers (millions) 11.11 6.38 2.92 3.56 1.25


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

11:35 p.m.

“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”: 0.6/4, 2.4/6

“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”: 0.5/3, 2.7/7

“Jimmy Kimmel Live”: 0.4/2, 1.5/4

12:35 a.m.

“Late Night with Seth Meyers”: 0.4/3, 1.3/5

“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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