Masked Scheduler's Ratings Smackdown

Shows are what they are, and no amount of hype after a big football games is going to change their performance when installed in their regular time period. That was true last night with "Hunted," which I thought did OK in the Wednesday slot and, in fact, improved in the second hour. Verdict is out on its long-term viability but I honestly do not think CBS expected the show to retain most of that 4+ 18-49 rating.
Yesterday I said I would tell you about a tool I developed to determine where a show was in its life cycle. Back in 1994 we were debating whether or not to renew "Empty Nest." There were four of us having the debate. John Agoglia, our head of Business Affairs at NBC, and I were opposed to moving forward with another season. The two other folks in the room outranked us so "EN" came back for its final season in the fall of 1994.
After the meeting I started to think about how to best evaluate shows that were on the fence. I always believed that a series had a life cycle and, just as a doctor can look at a patient's chart, there must be a way to look at the "health" of a show.
I had met the GE R&D geeks who loved TV. They offered to provide their services if ever needed. I called them up and discussed this idea of evaluating the health of a show. We talked about the variables that would go into the modeling and how to visualize all this.
A few months later the geeks came to town and, very apologetically, showed me their work. I was blown away and the SERIES LIFE CYCLE was born. It became a valuable tool for the next few years in not only deciding whether to renew shows but also in providing insight into scheduling techniques.
The most significant use of SLC was when we were deciding whether to renew "Law & Order." There was a feeling by one of the senior execs that, to quote him, "'Law & Order' is a hobby, not a business." I totally disagreed, and I now had this tool to present my case. Not only did we renew "L&O" but I convinced my bosses to order three runs of 24 episodes and I vowed to run all 72 of them ... and I did! The rest is history and Dick Wolf still rules at NBC.
Yesterday's viewing:
- "Royal Rumble 1992" (streaming on the WWE NETWORK)
- "Outsiders" (L+1)
- "Suits" (L+SD) still ridiculous and they cut down on the cursing.
- "Lethal Weapon" (L+SD)
- "NXT" (Streaming on the WWE NETWORK)
Tomorrow I'll answer a question about the power of certain show runners and we'll see how "Riverdale" does. I liked the pilot.

Broadcast primetime live + same-day ratings for Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017

The numbers for Wednesday include an interview with the new president and a hard fall for a new CBS show in its regular home:

Time Show Adults 18-49 Rating/Share Viewers (millions)
8 p.m. Lethal Weapon (FOX) 1.4/5 6.25
Hunted (CBS) (8-10 p.m.) 1.3/5 5.48
The Goldbergs (ABC) – R 1.2/4 4.78
Law & Order: SVU (NBC) – R 0.8/3 4.16
Arrow (The CW) 0.6/2 1.68
8:30 p.m. Speechless (ABC) – R 1.1/4 4.02
9 p.m. Star (FOX) 1.2/4 3.87
Modern Family (ABC) – R 1.1/4 4.42
Law & Order: SVU (NBC) – R 1.0/4 5.15
Frequency (The CW) – F 0.3/1 0.83
9:30 p.m. Black-ish (ABC) – R 1.1/4 3.91
10 p.m. President Trump: The First Interview (ABC) – S 1.7/6 7.50
Code Black (CBS) 0.9/3 5.61
Chicago PD (NBC) – R 0.8/3 4.37


CBS’ “Hunted” took a serious fall Wednesday in its first airing in its regular home. The show, which had the biggest series premiere of the season on Sunday following the AFC Championship, fell 68 percent in adults 18-49 from a 4.1 to a 1.3.

On the (slightly) bright side, “Hunted” did outperform “Undercover Boss'” 8 p.m. numbers. “Code Black,” meanwhile, was on its average with a 0.9.

ABC had the night’s top show with a news special featuring President Trump. It drew a 1.7 in the 18-49 demo and 7.5 million viewers. The network’s comedies and NBC’s lineup took the night off.

FOX’s “Lethal Weapon” (1.4) and “Star” (1.2) both held steady with last week. “Arrow” (0.6) returned to The CW slightly lower, down a tenth of a point from its last episode. The finale of “Frequency” rose a tenth vs. last week to 0.3.

Network averages:

Adults 18-49 rating/share 1.3/5 1.3/5 1.2/4 0.9/3 0.4/2
Total Viewers (millions) 5.35 5.06 5.52 4.56 1.25


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

11:35 p.m.

“Jimmy Kimmel Live”: 0.7/4, 2.2/6

“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”: 0.6/4, 2.2/6

“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” – R: 0.3/2, 1.8/5

12:35 a.m.

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

“Nightline”: 0.3/2, 1.4/5

“The Late Late Show with James Corden” – R: 0.2/1, 0.9/3

Note: An earlier version of this story had the 18-49 rating for “Hunted” at 1.4; it was in fact 1.3, as now correctly noted above.


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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