NBC's Kings Left at the Starting Gate


Monday, March 16, 2009
Prime-Time Ratings:
Weekend Highlights
Ratings Box:
What's Hot/What's Not
On the Air Tonight:
Prime-Time Programming Options
TV Tidbits:
Notes of Interest

TV Trivia Time:

The 1950s


Prime-Time Ratings:

Weekend Highlights

Friday 3/13/09

Note: The following results are based on the fast affiliate ratings (Live Plus Same Day data).  



ABC 3.5/ 6
NBC 3.0/ 5
Fox    2.5/ 4
CW    1.2/ 2

CBS: 10.20 million, ABC: 5.18, NBC: 4.68, Fox: 4.13, CW: 1.88

-Adults 18-49:

CBS: 2.2 rating/7 share, ABC: 1.6/ 5, NBC: 1.5/ 5, Fox: 1.4/ 4, CW: 0.7/ 2


Note: Any prior rating results are based on the final nationals. Since the level of DVR penetration has increased from 20 percent at this same point last year to approximately 28 percent at present, the overall results may be negatively impacted.


-Friday’s Winners:

(Keeping in mind the expectations are lower)

Ghost Whisperer (CBS)


-Down but Not Out:

Numb3rs (CBS)

-Friday’s Losers (excluding repeats):
Wife Swap (ABC), Howie Do It (NBC), Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Fox), Everybody Hates Chris (CW), The Game (CW), Friday Night Lights (NBC), Dollhouse (Fox), 20/20 (ABC), Dateline (NBC) -- that’s nine different “losers” on one night!


-Ratings Breakdown:

It was a clean sweep for CBS on this typically lackluster Friday, with its combination of Ghost Whisperer (Viewers: 11.11 million; A18-49: 2.6 rating/9 share), Flashpoint (Viewers: 9.44 million; A18-49: 1.9/ 6) and Numb3rs (Viewers: 10.05 million; A18-49: 2.0/ 6). But the network needs to strengthen the 9 p.m. hour next season in order to keep lead-out Numb3rs dominant. While Flashpoint is a big improvement over fall occupant The Ex List, under a 2-rating among adults 18-49 is a concern. And the retention out of Ghost Whisperer this week -- 85 percent in total viewers, 73 percent in the demo -- is not as strong as it once was.  


ABC finished in the distant No. 2 spot in both total viewers and adults 18-49 with its line-up of Wife Swap (Viewers: #2, 4.50 million; A18-49: #2t, 1.4/ 5), Supernanny (Viewers: #2, 5.63 million; A18-49: #2, 1.7/ 5) and 20/20 (Viewers: #2, 5.18 million; A18-49: #2, 1.6/ 5). While Supernanny deserves props for continuing to build out of Wife Swap, Wife Swap is just not capable of anchoring the evening. And both non-scripted hours might be better off as fill-ins (and not regularly scheduled occupants). Note to ABC: Why not raid corporate cousin Disney Channel’s programming closet and set up a night of kids and tween driven comedies? Remember T.G.I.F.?


NBC finished in the No. 3 spot care of two episodes (original and repeat) of the fading Howie Do It (Viewers: #3, avg. 4.36 million; A18-49: #2t, avg. 1.4/ 5), lackluster Friday Night Lights (Viewers: #3, 4.86 million; A18-49: #3t, 1.5/ 5) and Dateline (Viewers: #3, 4.68 million; A18-49: #3, 1.5/ 5). But if the rumors are true and NBC is indeed looking to renew its deal with DirecTV, Friday Night Lights could be around for two more seasons.


Fox continues to struggle with its combination of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Viewers: #4, 3.93 million; A18-49: #2t, 1.4/ 5) and the recently introduced Dollhouse, which picked up some steam at 4.42 million viewers (#4) and a 1.5/ 5 in the demo (#3t). Even so, it is still a losing performance. Coming up on April 17 in the Friday 8 p.m. hour: the return of Prison Break.


Last, and very least in every half hour, was the CW’s Everybody Hates Chris (Viewers: 1.83 million; A18-49: 0.7/ 2), The Game (Viewers: 2.07 million; A18-49: 0.8/ 3) and a repeat of America’s Next Top Model (Viewers: 1.86 million; A18-49: 0.7/ 2), which just does not perform well in non-originals. If I were programming the CW, I would pursue non-scripted shows of a lifestyle nature (see HGTV) for Friday next season.


Source: Nielsen Media Research data (R = repeat)

Saturday 3/14/09

Note: The following results are based on the fast affiliate ratings (Live Plus Same Day data).  



Fox    3.3/ 6
ABC 3.0/ 6
NBC 2.1/ 4

CBS: 6.44 million, Fox: 5.38, ABC: 4.57, NBC: 3.15

-Adults 18-49:

Fox: 1.8 rating/6 share, CBS: 1.2/ 4, ABC: 1.0/ 3, NBC: 0.9/ 3


Note: Any prior rating results are based on the final nationals. Since the level of DVR penetration has increased from 20 percent at this same point last year to approximately 28 percent at present, the overall results may be negatively impacted.

-Saturday’s Winners:

-Saturday’s Losers (excluding repeats):

The night overall, as usual.

-Ratings Breakdown:

It was a typically low-rated Saturday of mixed leadership, with CBS the most-watched network and Fox No. 1 among adults 18-49. Third overall was NBC, followed by barely visible ABC.


CBS opened the evening with a repeat of NCIS (Viewers: #2, 5.03 million; A18-49: #2, 1.0 rating/4 share at 8 p.m.), followed by a repeat of The Mentalist (Viewers: #1, 7.24 million; A18-49: #2t, 1.2/ 4) and 48 Hours Mystery (Viewers: #1, 7.05 million; A18-49: #1, 1.4/ 4) from 9-11 p.m. Notice the growth for The Mentalist encore. Fox was at recent levels care of the veteran combination of Cops (Viewers: #1, avg. 5.47 million; A18-49: #1, avg. 1.8/ 7) and America’s Most Wanted (Viewers: #3, 5.28 million; A18-49: #1, 1.8/ 6). But both non-scripted shows have lost considerable steam in the demo from one year earlier. 


In the battle of the two-hour repeats, Dancing With the Stars on ABC got more mileage than Celebrity Apprentice on NBC, but that is not saying much. Take a look:

Saturday 8-10 p.m.
Dancing With the Stars R (ABC)

Viewers: 5.01 million (#3), A18-49: 1.1/ 4 (#3)

Celebrity Apprentice R (NBC)

Viewers: 2.43 million (#4), A18-49: 0.8/ 2 (#4)


Am I the only one who thinks this is a dull season of contestants on Dancing With the Stars?


NBC moved past ABC in the 10 p.m. hour, with a repeat of Law & Order at 4.59 million viewers (#2) and a 1.2/ 4 among adults 18-49 (#2). A repeat of the Castle pilot on ABC dipped to 3.69 million viewers and a 0.9/ 3 in the demo, which was last in both categories. I would not get too used to Castle if I were you.


Source: Nielsen Media Research data (R = repeat)

Sunday 3/15/09


ABC 6.5/11
NBC 4.0/ 7
Fox    2.9/ 5
CW    0.9/ 2

-Percent Change From the Year-Ago Evening (Sunday, March 16, 2008):

CBS: +35, ABC: +14, CW: no change, Fox: -12, NBC: -29 

Note: The fast affiliate results for Sunday will be posted at by 12 p.m. ET. Go to the website, click on Ratings Box (the first category), then Last Night’s Results, and Sunday, March 15, 2009.   


-Yesterday’s Winners:

60 Minutes (CBS), Desperate Housewives (ABC), Cold Case (CBS)


-Yesterday’s Losers (excluding repeats)

Dateline (NBC), Hole in the Wall (Fox), Kings (NBC), Celebrity Apprentice (NBC)


-Ratings Breakdown:

CBS finished first in the overnights on this third Sunday in March, with an 18 percent advantage over second-place ABC. But ABC is expected to rule among adults 18-49 once the fast affiliate ratings are released (and posted at The two-hour series-premiere of NBC drama Kings did not benefit the network, which finished in the distant No. 3 spot. Fourth overall was Fox, followed by the CW, which at this point should consider giving the night back to the affiliates. 


Beginning with Kings, the aforementioned two-hour debut was stalled at the gate, with a mere 4.1 rating/7 share in the overnights from 8-10 p.m. Take a look how Kings declined in every half hour (never a good sign, of course):

Kings (NBC) – series premiere
8:00 p.m.: 4.6/ 8 (#3)
8:30 p.m.: 4.3/ 7 (#3)
9:00 p.m.: 3.8/ 6 (#4)
9:30 p.m.: 3.7/ 6 (#3)

One year earlier in this block, the second half of a two-hour edition of Dateline and a repeat of Law & Order was considerably stronger at an average 6.3/10 in the overnights. Do the math and that is a loss of 35 percent. Let’s be honest: did anyone really think this show would work?


Minus the benefit of any lead-in support, a one-hour edition of NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice dipped to a distant third-place 4.4/ 7 in the overnights at 10 p.m. Earlier in the evening on NBC was Dateline at a third-place 3.3/ 6 from 7-8 p.m. In other words, it was a night of “losers” for the wilted Peacock net.


CBS opened the evening with granddaddy 60 Minutes at a dominant 9.3/16 in the overnights at 7 p.m. That led into The Amazing Race at an also first-place (but considerably weaker) 6.2/10 at 8 p.m., followed by still potent Cold Case (#2: 8.4/13), which deserves to be renewed for next season, and on-the-fence The Unit (#2: 7.1/12) from 9-11 p.m. The Amazing Race will, of course, outdeliver 60 Minutes among key adults 18-49. 


Former powerhouse ABC continues to lose steam on Sunday with its combination of veteran America’s Funniest Home Videos (#2: 4.5/ 8), which is a show that will apparently outlive all of us, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (#2: 5.7/10), Desperate Housewives (#1: 8.6/13) and Brothers & Sisters (#1: 7.2/12). Retention for Brothers & Sisters out of declining Desperate Housewives was an improved 85 percent last night. As for the occupants on Wisteria Lane, wouldn’t it be wiser to get rid of Teri Hatcher’s annoying Susan instead of Nicollette Sheridan as sultry Edie? Did you ever notice how Hatcher’s story lines never really fit into the show?


Fox was off, but not running with two episodes of the ridiculous Hole in the Wall at an average 1.5/ 3 (#4) from 7-8 p.m. That led into below-average performances for animated The Simpsons (#4: 3.8/ 6), King of the Hill (#4: 3.4/ 5), Family Guy (#3: 4.1/ 6) and American Dad (#4: 3.5/ 5) from 8-10 p.m. In all likelihood, upcoming Family Guy spin-off The Cleveland Show will end up on this night next fall. 


The CW capped off the evening with a repeat of Jericho (#5: 0.6/ 1), which does not belong in prime-time, and repeat theatrical Moonstruck (#5: 1.1/ 2 from 8-10 p.m.), a Mr. TV favorite. Cher, of course, reached her acting zenith in this theatrical. Too bad she has all but disappeared from the movie scene.

Source: Nielsen Media Research data

Ratings Box:

What’s Hot/What’s Not   


-National Ratings in Primetime – Week of March 9 To-Date:

Four days into the week of March 9, Fox holds a significant advantage. But keep in mind, of course, that two of these nights include American Idol. Once Friday through Saturday is factored in, CBS is likely to gain dominance in households and total viewers. Here are the final national results for Monday, March 9 through Thursday, March 12:


Fox: 9.4 rating/15 share, CBS: 7.7/12, ABC: 6.0/10, NBC: 4.7/ 7, CW: 1.4/ 2, MNTV: 0.9/ 1

Total Viewers:

Fox: 16.28 million, CBS: 12.52, ABC: 9.31, NBC: 7.34, CW: 2.12, MNTV: 1.37

Adults 18-49:

Fox: 5.8 rating/15 share, CBS: 3.4/ 9, ABC: 2.9/ 8, NBC: 2.8/ 7, CW: 0.9/ 2, MNTV: 0.5/ 1

Source: Nielsen Media Research data

On the Air Tonight:
Prime-Time Programming Options

Monday 3/16/09
 8:00 p.m. Dancing With the Stars (two-hours)
10:00 p.m. Castle
 8:00 p.m. The Big Bang Theory
 8:30 p.m. How I Met Your Mother
 9:00 p.m. Two and a Half Men
 9:30 p.m. The Big Bang Theory
10:00 p.m. CSI: Miami
 8:00 p.m. Chuck (R)
 9:00 p.m. Heroes (R)
10:00 p.m. Medium (R)
 8:00 p.m. House
 9:00 p.m. 24
 8:00 p.m. Gossip Girl
 9:00 p.m. One Tree Hill
 8:00 p.m. Masters of Illusions

 9:00 p.m. Magic’s Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed (R)

-Of Note on Cable:

Judge Judy, a Mr. TV favorite, will be the guest on tonight’s edition of Larry King Live on CNN at 9 p.m. ET. 


In Memoriam


Tony Award winning actor and political activist Ron Silver died yesterday in New York City of esophageal cancer. He was 62.


Silver, who began his acting career in 1971, got an early break on sitcom Rhoda as neighbor Gary Levy from 1976 to 1978. Other regularly scheduled series roles included stints on short-lived sitcoms The Stockard Channing Show, Dear Detective, Baker’s Dozen and the final season of Veronica’s Closet; and drama’s Chicago Hope, Skin and The West Wing, which netted him his second of two Emmy Award nominations. In 1988, Silver won The Tony Award for David Mamet play Speed the Plow. And his theatrical film credits included Semi-Tough, Silkwood, Enemies: A Love Story, Reversal of Fortune and Ali. His most recent appearance was in upcoming big screen drama A Fonder Heart.


Silver is survived by his ex-wife, Lynne Miller, and two children, Adam and Alexandra.


Paul M. Hughes, the former Chairman of Hughes Broadcasting Partners and OG Holdings, passed away on March 11. He was 70-years old. Prior positions included President of King World Broadcasting and President of Viacom International’s Broadcast and Entertainment Divisions. Hughes was also active in his community for the Greater Hartford MLK Youth Fund, 20 Hartford Urban League and the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich, Connecticut.


Hughes is survived by his wife, Maureen; children Caroleen Mackin, James Hughes and Nancy Hughes; his sister Bernardine Hughes; and seven grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested any contributions to be made in his name to the Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York. The address is 1 East 91st Street, New York, N.Y. 10128.


TV Tidbits:

Notes of Interest


-New Name for Sci Fi Channel:

Cable net Sci Fi Channel will unveil a new name today at its upfront presentation to advertisers in New York: Syfy, which will officially kick-off on Tuesday, July 7. The goal of the new name is to broaden the perception of the audience of its programming that includes fantasy, paranormal, reality, mystery, action and adventure and, of course, science fiction.

-NBC Announces “Infront” Date:

NBC, which likes to get a jump on the competition, will unveil its fall 2009 prime-time schedule to advertisers on May 4 and 5 in New York, followed by presentations in Chicago on May 7 and Los Angeles on May 12. Traditional upfront announcement week, May 18-21, will kick-off with Fox on Monday, May 18, followed by ABC (May 19), CBS (May 20) and the CW (May 21).  In the past, Fox has traditionally closed the week. Also presenting that week will be ESPN and Turner Broadcasting.


TV Trivia Time:

The 1950s


Which one of the following five dramas was set in the 1950s?

Call to Glory
The Family Holvak
Father Murphy
I’ll Fly Away
Mulligan’s Stew

The answer to Friday’s question…


Where were Cousin Oliver’s parents en route to when they dropped him off at the Bradys on the fifth (and final) season of The Brady Bunch?

The North Pole

South America


Is:  e) South America. Too bad they did not take the little “jump the sharker” with them! All together now…


Here's the story of a lovely lady
Who was bringing up three very lovely girls.
All of them had hair of gold, like their mother,
The youngest one in curls.

Here's the story, of a man named Brady,
Who was busy with three boys of his own,
They were four men, living all together,
Yet they were all alone.

Til’ the one day when the lady met this fellow
And they knew it was much more than a hunch,
That this group would somehow form a family.
That's the way we all became the Brady Bunch.

The Brady Bunch,

The Brady Bunch
That's the way we all became the Brady Bunch.


-Current kudos goes to:
Gerry Bixenspan, Brian Carney, Tom Condosta, Annie Courtney, Maureen Goldman, David Jackino, Bob Ingersoll, Ken Jobe, Synda Kollman, Anne Leahy, Roberta Lee, Tony Naldrett, Joel Rapp