Masked Scheduler's Ratings Smackdown

A few days ago, ABC increased its orders for "Black-ish," "Grey's Anatomy" and "American Housewife" from 22 to 24 episodes each. Always a smart move. The Golden Rule of scheduling is "Reduce the cost of failure and invest in success."
This leads to the first Masked Mailbox question from TC: "I recently quoted your story about how the producers of 'ER' wouldn't deliver additional episodes, but when asked why, all I could say was 'Dunno.' Can you explain the reasoning?"
Historically, a full season order for a series is 22 episodes. A television season is about 36-37 weeks long. If you start the season off with five originals in a row and cover three sweeps periods, you have used 17 of the 22 episodes. That leaves just five originals for December, January, March and April. That's why networks often try to get two or three additional originals out of some of their more successful series.
Another "solution" is to divide series into two parts with "fall finales" and "winter premieres" and put a short order series in between as filler.
Every year I would beg John Wells, the showrunner of "ER," for two additional episodes, and every year he would respectfully turn down my request. John felt that creatively, he could not do more than 22 episodes, and that is generally the reason given by showrunners. Sometimes it's prior commitments by the talent both in front and behind the camera.
The problem with a show like "ER" is that sales would never want us to pre-empt it because of its high CPM. One year I approached Dick Wolf about covering three weeks of "ER" repeats with a three-part "Law & Order" where our heroes took on a "dream team" of attorneys in an O.J. Simpson-like story. Dick agreed, and "L&O" won the Emmy that year for best drama series. Maybe I played a small role in that.
LS has a question about the CBS comedy blocks: "Do you think they'll reduce one of the comedy blocks next year with 'The Big Bang Theory' being in its alleged final year? It's a relatively young slate, minus 'Mpm' and 'Life in Pieces.'"
Far be it for me to tell CBS what to do, but my guess is that they will stay with comedies on Monday and Thursday. In 2014-15, they went down to two comedies on Monday, then moved away entirely the following year with "Supergirl," but restocked and got back to four. Even if they are a bit ratings-challenged on Monday at the moment, there is a lot of wisdom in staying with the structure of your schedule and just reloading.
"Young Sheldon" returns Thursday, and keeping it behind "BBT" guarantees it can grow into a solid anchor comedy. Then it's about developing companions. They know what they're doing over there.
Questions can be sent to, and on Twitter it's @maskedscheduler.

Broadcast primetime live + same-day ratings for Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017

Note: FOX’s live World Series coverage may result in greater adjustments than usual for the network in the final ratings.

The numbers for Tuesday:

Time Show Adults 18-49 rating/share
Viewers (millions)
8 p.m. World Series Game 6 (FOX) (8-11 p.m.) 5.2/19 18.92
NCIS (CBS) 1.2/5 11.91
The Middle (ABC) 1.1/5 5.00
The Voice (NBC) – clip show 1.0/4 6.18
The Flash (The CW) 0.7/3 1.99
8:30 p.m. Fresh Off the Boat (ABC) 0.9/4 3.54
9 p.m. This Is Us (NBC) 2.0/7 8.32
Bull (CBS) 1.0/4 9.62
Black-ish (ABC) 1.0/4 3.59
Legends of Tomorrow (The CW) 0.4/2 1.43
9:30 p.m. The Mayor (ABC) 0.7/3 2.37
10 p.m. NCIS: New Orleans (CBS) 0.9/4 8.84
Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders (NBC) 0.8/3 3.60
Kevin (Probably) Saves the World (ABC) 0.6/2 2.68


Aside from a strong World Series game on FOX, Halloween night’s ratings were pretty frightful. Lower TV usage as people went out trick-or-treating — it was down about 6 percent from 8-10 p.m., including the World Series — meant smaller numbers pretty much across the board on the other networks.

Game 6 of the World Series earned a 15.1 household rating in metered markets, the best of this year’s series and the highest for a Game 6 since 2009 (there have been four since then). Ratings will probably adjust up a bit in the finals since the game ended before midnight ET.

“This Is Us” put up the best adults 18-49 rating after the World Series, but its 2.0 was a series low. “NCIS” (1.2, 11.91 million viewers) had the biggest total audience outside of FOX, but its viewership was down 9 percent from last week’s early ratings.

ABC’s comedies, CBS’ “Bull” and “NCIS: New Orleans,” NBC’s “Law & Order True Crime” and The CW’s “The Flash” and “Legends of Tomorrow” were all down as well, with declines between 0.1 and 0.3 in adults 18-49. “Kevin (Probably) Saves the World” managed to match last week’s 0.6. “The Voice” got a 1.0 from a clip show.

Network averages:

Adults 18-49 rating/share 5.2/19 1.3/5 1.1/4 0.8/3 0.6/2
Total Viewers (millions) 18.92 6.03 10.12 3.31 1.71


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

11:35 p.m.

“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”: 0.6/3, 1.9/5

“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”: 0.5/3, 2.8/7

“Jimmy Kimmel Live”: 0.5/3, 1.6/4

12:35 a.m.

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

“Nightline”: 0.3/3, 1.2/4

“The Late Late Show with James Corden”: 0.2/2, 1.3/5

Note: An earlier version of this post transposed two numbers in the viewer totals for “The Mayor.” It had 2.37 million viewers rather than 2.73 million.

: 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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