Masked Scheduler's Ratings Smackdown

Not much to say about last night other than OUCH!
One day I will talk about this, but gang, gimmicks and stunt casting are a total waste of time.
I want to continue a discussion of why reports of network television's demise should be taken with a grain of salt.
When I started in the business back in 1980, the network formula went something like this:
- You pay a license fee to a studio for the right to broadcast an episode twice.
- You charge an advertiser for the right to air a commercial in the show and you guarantee an audience.
- You get a measure of the number of eyeballs watching the show that includes the commercials.
- If you under-deliver on the guaranteed audience, you will make up the difference by airing additional commercials until you make the advertiser whole.
The difference between the cost of programming plus the money paid to affiliates to air your shows on their stations, and the money you take in, more or less determines your profit or loss.
When I started there were rules limiting the ownership of primetime programming, whose afterlife back then was reruns on network-affiliated and independent stations.
The "magic number" back then was 100 episodes, or about four seasons.
Finally, networks also owned stations that were quite profitable back then. When I was in TV stations research at NBC, we owned stations in New York, LA, Chicago, Cleveland and Washington, DC.
For those of you following the TV business you can look at each of these statements and see how network television has evolved since 1980. It is constantly evolving.
Tomorrow I'll point to the factors that will sustain the business as the same-day ratings decline.
Do you have a question or a comment? Well there's Twitter @maskedscheduler and e-mail at for you.
Last night's sked:
- "WWE Smackdown" (USA, mostly live)
- "Billions (Showtime, L+2) Between this and "Homeland," Showtime is providing Masked Wife and me with two of our current faves.
- "24:Legacy" (FOX, L+1)
- "Lethal Weapon" (FOX, L+7) Solid freshman season.

Broadcast primetime live + same-day ratings for Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The numbers for Tuesday include fairly steady numbers for a new NBC show and a heavy dose of reruns:

Time Show Adults 18-49 Rating/Share Viewers (millions)
8 p.m. The Voice (NBC) 2.2/9 10.69
NCIS (CBS) – R 0.9/4 9.24
The Middle (ABC) – R 0.9/4 4.32
The Flash (The CW) 0.9/4 2.65
New Girl (FOX) 0.8/3 1.98
8:30 p.m. American Housewife (ABC) – R 0.8/3 3.19
The Mick (FOX) 0.8/3 2.23
9 p.m. Trial & Error (NBC) 1.2/5 5.39
Bull (CBS) – R 0.8/3 7.02
Bones (FOX) 0.8/3 3.54
Fresh Off the Boat (ABC) – R 0.8/3 2.87
Legends of Tomorrow (The CW) 0.6/2 1.76
9:30 p.m. Trial & Error (NBC) 1.1/4 4.36
Black-ish (ABC) – R 0.7/3 2.65
10 p.m. Chicago Fire (NBC) 1.5/6 7.10
NCIS: New Orleans (CBS) – R 0.7/3 6.13
People Icons (ABC) 0.7/3 3.18


“The Flash’s” musical crossover episode didn’t result in much of a ratings boost for the show. The CW series delivered a 0.9 rating in adults 18-49 Tuesday night, even with last week. It did improve slightly in viewers (2.65 million vs. 2.39 million last week). “Legends of Tomorrow” (0.6) was up, beating last week’s 0.5.

At NBC, “Trial & Error” was predictably a lot lower than “This Is Us” in the 9 o’clock hour, but the comedy held up fairly well in its second week. Its two episodes scored 1.2 and 1.1, averaging out fairly close to the 1.4/1.0 for last week’s premiere. “The Voice” (2.2) was off 0.3 from a week ago, and “Chicago Fire” returned from a brief hiatus with a 1.5.

“Bones” (0.8) rose a tenth of a point week to week for FOX, while “New Girl” (0.8) was steady and “The Mick” (also 0.8) came down a tenth. ABC’s comedies and CBS’ dramas were repeats.

Network averages:

Adults 18-49 rating/share 1.7/6 0.8/3 0.8/3 0.8/3 0.8/3
Total Viewers (millions) 7.55 7.46 3.23 2.82 2.20


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

11:35 p.m.

“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”: 0.7/4, 2.0/5

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

“Jimmy Kimmel Live”: 0.5/3, 1.7/5

12:35 a.m.

“Late Night with Seth Meyers”: 0.3/3, 1.1/4

“Nightline”: 0.3/2, 1.1/4

“The Late Late Show with James Corden”: 0.2/2, 1.1/4

: 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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