Masked Scheduler's Ratings Smackdown

For network TV, there was a lot going on last night, and it resulted in a lot more half hours going well over a 1 rating in 18-49. Competition and showmanship still have their rewards in the business.
I just want to follow up a bit on this "Twin Peaks" thing. "Twin Peaks'' premiere L+SD audience was 506,000 viewers. That's everyone, not even 18-49. Given that the audience that watched the short-lived original on ABC back in the early '90s is 25 years older, I’m going to assume that the audience skew for this show may be older than several other "prestige" series on the premium and streaming channels.
That's a real number, and it can be compared to similar numbers (apples to apples) for other "prestige" series -- and it tells us something, no matter how hard some try to deny it.
Sure, other things like "buzz" matter, but isn’t "buzz" supposed to lead to something that can be monetized like, for instance, driving interest to check out the premiere episodes? I mean, don't you want to get in on the conversation on social media? I'm so confused.
The new thing to say is "but that doesn’t tell the whole story," as if everyone doesn’t know by now that the linear L+SD rating doesn't tell the whole story ... but it tells a story.
"Twin Peaks" was a fluke. I call shows like this "Emperor's New Clothes" shows. It premiered, if I remember correctly, on a quiet Palm Sunday to huge, surprising numbers. "TP" was a very poor testing pilot, and ABC marketed it in a sort of honest way, not hyping it and sort of admitting that they had no idea what this was, but you may want to check it out.
If my memory serves me it ran against a repeat Jesus movie on NBC, where I was head of audience research at the time. I remember our marketing chief, Vince Manze, complaining that there was a "Bloopers" on before the movie and he was walking around the building in Burbank screaming "Bloopers Jesus, Bloopers Jesus." It became our mantra for marketing incompatible shows. But I digress.
"Twin Peaks" was the XFL of scripted series, as ratings rapidly fell off the table and, after its initial short run, it was exiled to Saturday night for much of its second season. Of course, some impressionable young'uns were so in awe of "Twin Peaks" that they vowed to grow up and be TV critics.
My point is that the L+SD ratings tell a story. They don't give us everything, but I believe that, in ratings, all delayed viewing tells is that the rich get richer and the poor get a little less poor. When you start out with only 506,000 viewers, you will have an awesome percentage growth story. The new thing is apps. "Twin Peaks" resulted in a surge in users of the Showtime app, if I understand the spin. Whatevs.
At the end of the day, Showtime brought back a show that was rejected the first time out and appears to be again. Some will fan the flames on social media, but for most of us, we've moved on.
Scream at me on Twitter @maskedscheduler and email me at
I'm going on hiatus for a week. I'm not pulling a Bill O'Reilly, I swear.

Broadcast primetime live + same-day ratings for Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The numbers for Wednesday:

Time Show Adults 18-49 Rating/Share Viewers (millions)
8 p.m. Survivor (CBS) (8-10 p.m.) – F 1.9/8 8.55
Movie: Dirty Dancing (ABC) (8-11 p.m.) 1.3/5 6.59
Shots Fired (FOX) – F 0.9/4 3.41
Law & Order: SVU (NBC) – R 0.7/3 4.03
Arrow (The CW) – F 0.6/3 1.68
9 p.m. Empire (FOX) – F 2.4/9 6.91
Law & Order: SVU (NBC) 1.3/5 5.80
The 100 (The CW) – F 0.3/1 0.98
10 p.m. Law & Order: SVU (NBC) – F 1.4/5 6.22
Survivor Reunion (CBS) 1.4/5 6.21


The final night of the 2016-17 season brought improved ratings for several season finales. “Empire” led the night in adults 18-49 with a 2.4 ratings, up 0.3 from last week’s early number (and 0.2 from its final rating). It was the show’s best rating since late March.

“Survivor” scored a 1.9 for its finale, a high for the spring cycle. “Law & Order: SVU” closed its season with two episodes drawing 1.3 and 1.4, its best numbers since February. “Arrow” (0.6) and “Shots Fired” (0.9) each improved a tenth of a point vs. last week, and “The 100” was steady at 0.3.

ABC’s “Dirty Dancing” remake earned an OK-not-great 1.3. It was at least consistent, holding at 1.3 across all three hours and posting very steady viewer numbers for its entire running time (6.52 million at 8 p.m., 6.68 million at 9 and 6.56 million at 10).

Network averages:

Adults 18-49 rating/share 1.7/7 1.7/7 1.3/5 1.1/4 0.5/2
Total Viewers (millions) 7.77 5.16 6.59 5.35 1.33


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

11:35 p.m.

“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”: 0.7/4, 2.1/6

“Jimmy Kimmel Live”: 0.5/3, 1.9/5

“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”: 0.4/2, 2.4/6

12:35 a.m.

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

“Nightline”: 0.3/3, 1.2/4

“The Late Late Show with James Corden”: 0.2/1, 1.0/4


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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