Networks Prepare for the Upfront Annoucements

Monday, May 18, 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:

Upfront Week


Note: Due to the network upfront announcements, The Programming Insider will focus solely on the new primetime schedules for the remainder of the week. All regularly scheduled sections (Prime-Time Ratings, Ratings Box, On the Air Tonight, TV Tidbits and TV Trivia Time) will return on Tuesday, May 26.


Prime-Time Ratings:

Weekend Highlights

Friday 5/15/09

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



NBC   5.5/10
ABC   3.6/ 7
Fox    2.1/ 4
CW    1.1/ 2

-Total Viewers:

CBS: 8.98 million, NBC: 7.73, ABC: 5.67, Fox: 3.33, CW: 1.64

-Adults 18-49:

CBS and NBC: 2.0 rating/6 share each, ABC: 1.6/ 6, Fox: 1.2/ 5, CW: 0.7/ 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.


-Friday’s Winners:

Farrah’s Story (NBC), Numb3rs (CBS)
-Keep it On Sunday:

America’s Funniest Home Videos (ABC)


-Friday’s Losers (excluding repeats):
Prison Break (Fox), The Game (CW), 20/20 (ABC)


-Ratings Breakdown:

CBS was the most-watched network on this final Friday of the May 2009 sweeps, beating above-average NBC by 1.25 million viewers. Both networks were tied for first among adults 18-49. NBC’s noticeable increase from its recent Friday average stems from two-hour docu-drama special, Farrah’s Story. Third overall in both categories was ABC, followed by Fox and the CW.


A night of season-finales on CBS performed as follows:


8:00 p.m. Ghost Whisperer

Viewers: 8.93 million (#1), A18-49: 2.0 rating/8 share (#1)


9:00 p.m. Flashpoint

Viewers: 8.42 million (#1), A18-49: 1.8/ 6 (#2t)


10:00 p.m. Numb3rs

Viewers: 9.60 million (#1), A18-49: 2.1/ 7 (#2)


NBC opened the evening with back-to-back repeats of the soon-to-be officially axed Howie Do It at an average 5.30 million viewers (#2) and a 1.3/ 5 among adults 18-49 (#3) from 8-9 p.m. That led into aforementioned special Farrah’s Story at 8.94 million viewers (#2) and a first-place 2.4/ 8 among adults 18-49 from 9-11 p.m., which is a considerable improvement from the recent two-hour airings of Dateline. After tuning in to this sad tale of Farrah Fawcett’s ongoing battle with cancer, I am a true admirer of this courageous lady. Farrah…our prayers are with you.


Over at ABC, the two-hour season-finale of Sunday staple America’s Funniest Home Videos did not impress, with 5.64 million viewers and a 1.6/ 6 among adults 18-49 from 8-10 p.m. — third in both categories. That led into veteran 20/20 at an also third-place finish in both total viewers (5.72 million) and adults 18-49 (1.6/ 5) at 10 p.m.


In series-finale news, the two-hour conclusion of Fox’s Prison Break went out with a whimper at just 3.33 million viewers (#4) and a 1.2/ 5 in the demo (#4) from 8-10 p.m. The one-hour season (or series) finale of CW sitcom The Game was considerably worse at a typically last-place 1.86 million viewers and a 0.9/ 4 among adults 18-49 from 8-9 p.m. But The Game could be back next season because it is still one season short of the number of episodes needed for off-network syndication. That led into a repeat of the season-finale of America’s Next Top Model on the CW at 1.41 million viewers and a 0.6/ 2 in the demo from 9-10 p.m. — also last in both categories. 


Effective next Friday, the CW will fill the 9 p.m. hour with second encore telecasts of Everybody Hates Chris and The Game. Fox will anchor Friday with the return of Don’t Forget the Lyrics.


Source: Nielsen Media Research data (R = repeat)

Saturday 5/16/09

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



NBC 2.5/ 5
Fox    2.5/ 5
ABC 2.2/ 4
CBS: 5.85 million, Fox: 4.02, NBC: 3.55, ABC: 3.52
-Adults 18-49:

Fox: 1.4 rating/5 share, ABC: 1.2/ 4, CBS: 1.1/ 4, NBC: 0.7/ 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.  


-Ratings Breakdown:

It was a typical low-rated Saturday of split leadership, with CBS the most-watched network and Fox No. 1 among adults 18-49. But under six million viewers and a mere 1.4 rating/5 share among adults 18-49 for the dominant network is nothing to boast about.


CBS opened the evening with a repeat episode of The Mentalist (Viewers: #1, 4.86 million; A18-49: #3t, 0.7/ 3 at 8 p.m.), followed by another repeat of The Mentalist in place of Harper’s Island (Viewers: #1, 5.90 million; A18-49: #3, 1.1/ 4) and 48 Hours Mystery (Viewers: #1, 6.79 million: 18-49: #1, 1.5/ 5) from 9-11 p.m. Fans of Harper’s Island don’t fret: it returns to the 9 p.m. hour next Saturday. Fox, of course, aired its diluted combination of Cops (Viewers: #2, avg. 3.72 million; A18-49: #1, avg. 1.3/ 6) and America’s Most Wanted (Viewers: #2, 4.31 million; A18-49: #1, 1.4/ 5).


Elsewhere (and there wasn’t much else), NBC’s encore combination of Law & Order: SVU (Viewers: #3, 3.37 million; A18-49: #4, 0.7/ 3), Southland (Viewers: #4, 2.76 million; A18-49: #4, 0.6/ 2) and Law & Order (Viewers: #2, 4.52 million; A18-49: #3, 0.9/ 3) resulted in an overall finish of third in total viewers and fourth among adults 18-49. ABC capped off this bland night with repeat theatrical Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at just 3.52 million viewers (#4) and a 1.2/ 4 among adults 18-49 (#2) from 8-11 p.m.


As I have said on many occasions, All in the Family, MASH, The Jeffersons, Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart, Carol Burnett, The Love Boat and The Golden Girls…we miss you!


Source: Nielsen Media Research data (R = repeat)

Sunday 5/17/09


CBS   6.4/11
NBC 3.7/ 6
Fox    3.1/ 5
CW    1.0/ 2

-Percent Change From the Year-Ago Evening (Sunday, May 18, 2008):

NBC: +23, Fox: – 6, CBS: -11, CW: -17, ABC: -18

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, May 10, 2009.   


-Yesterday’s Winners:

60 Minutes (CBS), Desperate Housewives (ABC)


-Down but Not Out:

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (ABC), Survivor: Tocantins (CBS)


-Yesterday’s Losers (Excluding Repeats):

Dateline (NBC), Saturday Night Live: Just Shorts (NBC)


-Ratings Breakdown:

ABC dominated the Sunday overnights, beating a night of Survivor on second-place CBS by eight percent. In the distant No. 3 spot was NBC, followed by Fox and the CW.


CBS granddaddy 60 Minutes kicked-off the evening first in the overnights, with a 7.1 rating/13 share. That led into the two-hour season-finale of Survivor: Tocantins at a below-average 6.2/10 from 8-10 p.m. Take a look at the half-hour breakdown:

Survivor: Tocantins (CBS)
8:00 p.m.: 5.9/10 (#1)
8:30 p.m.: 5.9/ 9 (#2)
9:00 p.m.: 6.5/10 (#2)
9:30 p.m.: 6.4/10 (#2)

Winner J.T.’s 7-0 jury victory made this season-ending edition of Survivor one of the least memorable in the history of the franchise. Capping off the night for the Eye net was the live Survivor Reunion at a second-place 5.9/10 in the 10 p.m. hour. The last few minutes of Survivor: Tocantins perked up to a 7.0/11. As for Benjamin “Coach” Wade, let’s hope we never see or hear from him again.


The two-hour season-finale of aging Extreme Makeover: Home Edition opened for ABC with a 5.1/ 9 in the overnights from 7-9 p.m., building by half-hour as follows:

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (ABC)
7:00 p.m.: 3.9/ 7 (#2)
7:30 p.m.: 4.3/ 8 (#2)
8:00 p.m.: 5.4/ 9 (#2)
8:30 p.m.: 6.6/11 (#1)

One year earlier, an also expanded edition of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition ended the season with a 6.0/10 on May 18, 2008. Comparably, that was a loss of 15 percent.


EMHE led into the two-hour fifth season-finale of Desperate Housewives, which was the highest rated show of the evening at an 8.7/14 in the overnights from 9-11 p.m. Here is the half-hour breakdown:

Desperate Housewives (ABC)
 9:00 p.m.: 8.2/13 (#1)

 9:30 p.m.: 8.6/13 (#1)

10:00 p.m.: 8.8/14 (#1)
10:30 p.m.: 9.3/16 (#1)

Comparably, Desperate Housewives dipped by 19 percent from it’s year-ago season-ender, which was also two hours (10.8/17 on May 18, 2008). Unlike the glory of past serialized drama favorites like Dallas and Knots Landing, Desperate Housewives just does not know how to conclude the season with a bang, so to speak. Marc Cherry…give Michael Filerman a call.


NBC had nothing of note with its combination of a two-hour edition of Dateline (4.2/ 8) from 7-9 p.m., which managed to increase in every half-hour, and two-hour special Saturday Night Live: Just Shorts (3.1/ 5 from 9-11 p.m.), which lost steam in every half-hour. Take a look:

Dateline (NBC)
7:00 p.m.: 3.5/ 7 (#3)
7:30 p.m.: 3.7/ 7 (#3)
8:00 p.m.: 4.7/ 8 (#3)
8:30 p.m.: 5.1/ 8 (#3)
Saturday Night Live: Just Shorts (NBC)

 9:00 p.m.: 3.4/ 5 (#4)

 9:30 p.m.: 3.1/ 5 (#4)

10:00 p.m.: 2.9/ 5 (#3)
10:30 p.m.: 2.8/ 5 (#3)

Next was Fox care of repeats of King of the Hill (#4: 1.7/ 3) and American Dad (#4: 2.0/ 4) from 7-8 p.m., followed by the season-finale episodes of its animated 8-10 p.m. slate. Take a look:

Fox/Sunday 8-10 p.m.
8:00 p.m.: The Simpsons: 3.7/ 6 (#4)
8:30 p.m.: King of the Hill: 3.4/ 5 (#4)
9:00 p.m.: Family Guy: 4.4/ 7 (#3)
9:30 p.m.: American Dad: 3.5/ 5 (#3)

All four comedies were down from their year-ago season-enders, and King of the Hill is officially out of production. Any new episodes for next season are just leftovers.


Uneventful the CW, which is giving back Sunday to the affiliates effective next season, capped off the night with a repeat of Jericho (#5: 0.6/ 1) and repeat theatrical License to Kill (#5: 1.2/ 2 from 8-10 p.m.).   ABC Studios is reportedly interested in producing original episodes of sophomore drama Reaper to syndicate to CW affiliates for Sunday nights next season. Stay tuned. 

Source: Nielsen Media Research data

Ratings Box:

What’s Hot/What’s Not
-Final Thursday Nationals:

Led by two-hours of Grey’s Anatomy (including the season-finale at 10 p.m.), ABC won its fourth consecutive Thursday of the May 2009 sweeps in adults 18-49, beating second-place CBS by 35 percent in the demo. ABC has now finished first on every May sweep Thursday for the past three years, while building on its Thursday audience for the 6th consecutive week. 


There were 11 season-enders, in total, on this last Thursday of the sweeps. And they were:

My Name is Earl (NBC) – 8 p.m.

Viewers: 4.84 million (#4 in time period); A18-49: 2.0/ 7 (#3t)

Bones (Fox) – 8 p.m.
Viewers: 8.88 million (#2); A18-49: 2.6/ 8 (#2)
Smallville (CW) – 8 p.m.
Viewers: 3.13 million (#5); A18-49: 1.4/ 4 (#5)
Parks and Recreation (NBC) – 8:30 p.m.
Viewers: 4.29 million (#4); A18-49: 2.0/ 6 (#3t)
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) – 9 p.m. (two hours)
Viewers: 16.53 million (#1); A18-49: 5.9/16 (#1)
CSI (CBS) – 9 p.m.
Viewers: 14.81 million (#2); A18-49: 3.4/ 9 (#3)
The Office (NBC) – 9 p.m.
Viewers: 6.77 million (#4); A18-49: 3.5/ 9 (#2)
Hell’s Kitchen (Fox) – 9 p.m.
Viewers: 7.37 million (#3); A18-49: 3.2/ 8 (#3)
Supernatural (CW) – 9 p.m.
Viewers: 2.89 million (#5); A18-49: 1.3/ 3 (#5)
30 Rock (NBC) – 9:30 p.m.
Viewers: 5.69 million (#4); A18-49: 2.8/ 7 (#4)
CSI: NY (CBS) – 10 p.m.
Viewers: 12.77 million (#2); A18-49: 3.0/ 8 (#2)

What follows are the final national ratings for Thursday, May 14:

Total Viewers:

ABC: 13.28 million, CBS: 13.26, Fox: 8.14, NBC: 5.16, CW: 3.01

Adults 18-49:

ABC: 4.6 rating/13 share, CBS: 3.4/10, Fox: 2.9/ 8, NBC: 2.3/ 6, CW: 1.3/ 4

Source: Nielsen Media Research data

On the Air Tonight:
Prime-Time Programming Options

Monday 5/18/09

Night 26 of the May 2009 Sweeps

 8:00 p.m. Dancing With the Stars  

 9:00 p.m. The Bachelorette (season premiere, two hours)

 8:00 p.m. Rules of Engagement

 8:30 p.m. How I Met Your Mother (season finale)

 9:00 p.m. Two and a Half Men (season finale)
 9:30 p.m. Rules of Engagement (season finale)
10:00 p.m. CSI: Miami (season finale)
 8:00 p.m. Deal Or No Deal
 9:00 p.m. Deal or No Deal
10:00 p.m. Medium
 8:00 p.m. 24 (season finale, two hours)
 8:00 p.m. Gossip Girl (season finale)
 9:00 p.m. One Tree Hill (season finale)
 8:00 p.m. Masters of Illusions

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


TV Tidbits:

Notes of Interest


-Upcoming on Fox:

Fox, which unveils its 2009-10 prime-time schedule this afternoon, has ordered 13 episodes of a new comedy called Brothers. The premise of this multi-camera comedy involves a retired NFL star (Michael Strahan) who moves back to his hometown and is reunited with his brother (Daryl “Chill” Mitchell), whose career in football was cut short because of a car accident. Brothers is expected to join already announced new comedy Sons on Tuscon and Family Guy spin-off The Cleveland Show, and new dramas Glee, Past Life and Human Target on the fall (or midseason) schedule. 


-Also at Fox:

The network has officially renewed underrated drama Bones, which works well no matter where the network schedules it, for two more seasons.


-Other Renewals:

As the networks put the final blueprints on their fall 2009 schedules, ABC picked three series hovering between renewal and cancellation: drama Castle, sitcom Better Off Ted and reality/competition True Beauty. Waiting for the axe to officially swing at ABC are recently introduced scripted hours Cupid and The Unsuals, and veteran According to Jim. Over at NBC, sophomore Chuck has been picked up for 13 additional episodes. And CBS is expected to keep sitcom Rules of Engagement and veteran drama Cold Case alive. 


-This, That & Other Rumors:

The latest rumor circulating is CBS potentially picking up drama Medium if NBC drops it. If higher rated Eye net scripted hours Without a Trace and The Unit are still on the fence, why would CBS want NBC’s rapidly deteriorating Medium?


TV Trivia Time:

Upfront Week


Which one of the following five established series has not been officially renewed for next season yet?

The Amazing Race (CBS)
Brothers & Sisters (ABC)
Celebrity Apprentice (NBC)
The Game (CW)
‘Til Death (Fox)

The answer to Friday’s question…


Who played Detective Christine Cagney in the 1981 made-for TV movie version of Cagney & Lacey?

Susan Anton
Angie Dickinson
Linda Evans
Markie Post
Loretta Swit

Is:  e) Loretta Swit, who wanted to leave MASH to join the cast of Cagney & Lacey once it ordered as a series, but could not get out of her contract.


-Current kudos goes to:
Don Abel, Mark Amato, David Balloratto, Ric Beddingfield, Matthew Berriman, Mark Binda, Gerry Bixenspan, Susan Brandes, Lisa Brause, Larry Collins, Annie Courtney, Audrey Davis, Reid Davis, John Ferlazzo, Arleen Fong, Leslie Franzen, Steve Gleason, Harold Goetz, Geoffrey Gordon, Sharron Harmening, Barb Hermberger, Kerry Hughes, Bob Ingersoll, David Jackino, Deb Kainer, Mary Kalnin, Marie LeFevre Karp, Tom Kilgallon, Danny Leclair, David Lederman, Richard Mann, Tony Naldrett,  Eric Peralta, Alan Perris, Jodi Perris, Alex Petrilli, Jr., Greg Phelan, David Primuth, Francine Purcell, Gordon Purcell, Colleen Roth, Marilyn Rutkowski, Greg Salerno, Julie Schrader, David Shearer, Kim Smith, DeWayne Snype, Joe Swaney, Jill Tarlow, Bobbie Termeer, Trenna Underhill, Laura Velazquez, Myndi Weinraub, Joel Wolk, John Wood, Ged Young, Ted Zawislak