Masked Scheduler's Ratings Smackdown

Masketeer AP asks a short question that merits a longer answer.
"Hi Masked Scheduler,
"My question is how do networks decide when to announce premiere dates? I ask this as all the networks thus far have announced except ABC."
Networks usually have to figure out when shows premiere pretty soon after announcing their schedules. There are several reasons, but generally they fall into three areas.
Often budgets have to be submitted soon after the announcement, so the schedulers, in concert with research, finance and sales, need to work on a grid that has to be estimated and priced out prior to budget meetings.
Sales needs to be prepared for the upfront, and knowing premiere dates and some layout of episodes is essential in that some shows' premieres may be in demand and can be sold for higher CPMs.
Current programming executives need a grid for their show so they can provide the showrunners with delivery dates and alert them to any special episodes (holiday, crossovers etc.) that might require extra planning. The current execs (if they're doing their job) need to report back to the schedulers with any issues in delivering episodes so the schedule can be readjusted.
And you all thought this was cake.
Premiere dates are often shared with ad buyers, and for most of the time I was at the networks, premiere dates would general be held for the summer television critics press tour. Network presidents would reveal them as part of their TCA session.
Recently premiere dates seem to be coming out sooner. It's possible that in the new social media age, it's more difficult to keep the dates secret. It's also possible that by going out earlier, networks can play a bit of a chess game and change dates based on competitive schedules. I personally don't think that results in anything different, but whatevs.
At FOX, in figuring out premiere dates, I had the added issues of post-season baseball and "American Idol" to deal with. I wasn't aware that ABC had not announced their fall premiere dates. It's possible that with "Idol" coming on in midseason, that is impacting their fall plans in terms of deliveries and perhaps an earlier launch to the season.
I do like that, after years of trying to finesse premiere plans, the networks have returned to something resembling a classic premiere week. The strong shows will survive, so it's best to get the carnage over as soon as possible.
Keep the questions coming. It makes for more interesting posts. Send them to, and follow on Twitter @maskedscheduler.

Broadcast primetime live + same-day ratings for Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The numbers for Wednesday:

Time Show Adults 18-49 Rating/Share Viewers (millions)
8 p.m. Big Brother (CBS) 1.8/8 6.15
Masterchef (FOX) 1.1/5 3.42
Little Big Shots: Forever Young (NBC) 0.8/3 5.78
The Goldbergs (ABC) – R 0.6/3 3.01
Arrow (The CW) – R 0.2/1 0.86
8:30 p.m. Speechless (ABC) – R 0.5/2 2.18
9 p.m. Salvation (CBS) 0.7/3 4.29
The Carmichael Show (NBC) 0.7/3 3.27
The F Word with Gordon Ramsay (FOX) 0.7/3 2.10
Modern Family (ABC) – R 0.6/3 2.52
Legends of Tomorrow (The CW) – R 0.2/1 0.75
9:30 p.m. The Carmichael Show (NBC) – R 0.6/2 2.64
American Housewife (ABC) – R 0.6/2 2.24
10 p.m. Criminal Minds (CBS) – R 0.6/3 4.19
Modern Family (ABC) – R 0.6/3 2.37
This Is Us (NBC) – R 0.4/2 2.01
10:30 p.m. The Goldbergs (ABC) – R 0.5/2 1.98


FOX got a bit of a ratings bump Wednesday night as both of its Gordon Ramsay-fronted shows improved their adults 18-49 ratings vs. last week. “Masterchef” (1.1) and “The F Word” (0.7) each rose a tenth of a point.

“Big Brother” remained the night’s top show with a 1.8, though it was down a tenth from last week. “Salvation” held steady at 0.7 in its second week on CBS. NBC’s “Carmichael Show” was also even at 0.7, but “Little Big Shots: Forever Young” (0.8) lost a tenth from last week’s early numbers (it adjusted up in the finals).

Network averages:

Adults 18-49 rating/share 1.1/5 0.9/4 0.6/3 0.6/3 0.2/1
Total Viewers (millions) 4.88 2.76 3.58 2.38 0.80



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.

  • ‘Big Brother’ adjusts up: Wednesday final ratings – TV By The Numbers by

    […] Brother” adjusted up a tenth of a point in adults 18-49 from Wednesday’s fast national ratings to the finals. The CBS show finishes with a 1.9 rating, even with the previous […]


  • ‘Big Brother’ adjusts up: Wednesday final ratings ‹ Bully Pulpit

    […] Brother” adjusted up a tenth of a point in adults 18-49 from Wednesday’s fast national ratings to the finals. The CBS show finishes with a 1.9 rating, even with the previous […]


blog comments powered by Disqus